Colin Kaepernick and his no good fourth quarter

Kaepernick is good, but he crumbled with the NFC title on the line

1/21/14 in NFL   |   ZacWassink   |   74 respect

Jan 19, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) leaves the field after the 2013 NFC Championship football game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY SportsWe're all about to learn a lot about San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

The stage was set on Sunday night for Kaepernick to play the hero role. Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson had, roughly 80 seconds into the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship Game, hit Jermaine Kearse with a perfectly thrown 35-yard touchdown pass that put Seattle ahead 20-17. Kaepernick had, up until that point, played OK but not great. His time to shine had arrived.

Kaepernick instead crumbled. He held onto the football for too long on a third-and-six, presenting Cliff Avril with the opportunity to strip the ball away from Kaepernick and give the Seahawks possession at the San Francisco 23-yard line.

The defense of the 49ers bailed Kaepernick out on the following drive, stopping the Seattle offense on a fourth-and-goal at the one-yard line. He wasted that new life two plays later, floating his worst pass of the evening toward Anquan Boldin, a ball that was easily picked off by Kam Chancellor.

It wasn't over for Kaepernick and company just yet. His team's defense nearly caused what could have been a massive turnover, and the Seahawks were ultimately held to a field goal. A game-winning touchdown drive, one that would have been the potential start of a legacy, was within reach.

Kaepernick did take a few steps toward greatness. He hooked up with Frank Gore for a 17-yard completion on a fourth down. Kaepernick then, in four plays, moved San Francisco into the red zone with under a minute left on the clock. With four downs remaining and multiple timeouts left in his pocket, Kaepernick readied himself under center.

Seattle defensive back Richard Sherman has picked up plenty of headlines for the fantastic play he made in the corner of the end zone when he tipped a pass that was intercepted by teammate Malcolm Smith; and also for the promo he cut on the field afterward. Sherman's highlight reel moment aside, that was a play that Kaepernick absolutely cannot make in that situation.

While pressure was coming from his right side, Kaepernick had a huge pocket that he could have stepped into, an opening that would have allowed him to put a little bit more air underneath the ball rather than throwing off of his back foot. A championship quarterback such as Wilson reads the play and makes the right move. Kaepernick did not, and thus his pass wasn't placed where it needed to be.

Kaepernick making that throw was also a sign of panic. He had, when he took the snap, 32 seconds left to work with. His offense was just 18 yards shy of the end zone. There was no reason for Kaepernick to force a throw into double coverage in that scenario. Anything other than giving the ball away – a sack, a scramble, a short completion, an incomplete pass – would have been acceptable.

Instead, the moment and everything that came with it got to him.

Winning such a massive contest is often about not making a play and instead living to fight another day. That's a hard lesson for any young quarterback to learn, but a necessary one if he is to take that next step from a guy who can merely go on Sundays to one who can hoist trophies.

Kaepernick unquestionably has the goods to win multiple championships. Go back and watch some of the great plays he made with his arm and with his legs against the best defense in the league in prime time if you don't agree. There's more to be learned from losing than from winning, and there are many lessons Kaepernick can take from Sunday night.

He can be one of the best at the position. How Kaepernick responds from this disappointment will have a major impact on his getting to that level.

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1/23/14   |   Scott   |   54136 respect

As much as I'm not a Kaepernick or 49ers fan, I give the guy props for standing up in front of the press taking full responsibility for the loss.  You can't turn the ball over 3 times in the final 15 minutes in a close game and expect to win in Seattle