The Pittsburgh Steelers believe they are going to have their hands full with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, when they play this Sunday at 1 p.m. in Pittsburgh. After an injury to Alex Smith early in the 2012-2013 season, Kaepernick took the NFL by storm. In 13 games, he had a quarterback rating of 98.3, and even led the 49ers to the Super Bowl against the Baltimore Ravens.
While Kaepernick was able to reach the NFC Championship Game again during the 2013-2014 season, many analysts and fans believe he has been regressing since his Super Bowl run. Poor throwing accuracy and turnovers have been his achilles heel, both of which are unforgivable for an NFL quarterback. In a year where not much is expected of Kaepernick and the 49ers, it appears as though they may surprise us.
According to ESPN, the Steelers believe that Kaepernick is not the same quarterback as last year. After watching his week 1 performance against the Minnesota Vikings where he had no turnovers and acted as a game manager, the Steelers believe he is looking more poised than ever. Steelers starting linebacker Jarvis Jones believes Kaepernick looks more patient as well.
“That was a big thing to see. He was more patient in the pocket looking for the pass. He got out on some runs, but it wasn’t the old Kaepernick that you see that, just when he gets on a run, he’s trying to break tackles and stuff like that. He was more about getting the yards, getting the first down and getting down. Him trying to turn into a running back after he broke the pocket, we didn’t see that Kaepernick.”
According to numerous sources, Kaepernick has also worked on his throwing accuracy in the offseason. While he only completed 17 passes for 165 yards in the opening game, he still gave his team a chance to win. He also ran when he had to, adding in 41 rushing yards. While the Steelers believe Kaepernick is more patient and poised, they still know that he can beat them with his legs. In order to prepare for this possibility, they are using quarterback Michael Vick to simulate Kaepernick’s running in practice, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.
At the moment, the Pittsburgh Steelers are six-and-a-half point favorites over the San Francisco 49ers for Sunday’s showdown. Still without Le’Veon Bell, the Steelers offense is not going to be as powerful as it can be. If Kaepernick can prove that he has improved his accuracy and patience, he can be the X-factor in giving the 49ers a chance to overcome the odds.
[Image via Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images]