Colin Kaepernick has what it takes to win a Super Bowl.
At least, that’s what ex-San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said Tuesday in a PFT Live report on NBC Sports Radio. According to Harbaugh, Kaepernick, who is now a free agent with no takers, needs time to mature.
“I think (Kaepernick) is an outstanding player,” Harbaugh said. “I think he’s a great competitor who’s proven it in games and has the ability to be not only an NFL starter but a great NFL player. “(He) will be just fine. He’ll just keep plugging away, and I think you’ll see he’ll have a great career and be a great quarterback (and) win championships.”
Harbaugh compared to Kaepernick’s career to his own stint in the NFL from 1987-2001. Harbaugh didn’t see action as a starter until his fourth year. Kaepernick was only a backup for a year before coming as the 49ers’ No. 1 guy in the 2012 season.
Kaepernick was known last year more for protesting the “Star Spangled Banner” than his performances on the football field. However, at 29, there is time to put the turbulence behind him, Harbaugh said.
“A lot of quarterbacks really come into their own in their late 20s and even their early 30s,” Harbaugh said.
Much of Kaepernick’s allure came against Green Bay in the 2012-13 playoffs when the primarily read-option QB stunned the unsuspecting Packers for 181 yards and a 45-31 win. He followed up with 402 yards in the next season’s opener against Packers, officially ushering in what was billed as a new era of NFL quarterbacks.
Kaepernick went on to pass for 3,000 yards in 2013 and 2014, but he only threw for 1,600 with six touchdowns in 2015. In 2016, the former Nevada standout threw for 2,241 and 16 TDs, but the 49ers finished a dismal 2-14.
“It seems that these days people aren’t as patient,” Harbaugh continued. “They want to label someone as being great or not being able to play, being a bust so quickly these days. Even after they label them great, then if a quarterback struggles for a season, all of a sudden they can’t wait to tear them down. Build them up to tear them down.”
What about the guy who refused to stand for the national anthem? While for many, the answer is part of another debate altogether. The kneel-down failed to resonate for a few weeks. But, when it did catch on, players from several NFL team followed suit. It also caught the attention of colleges and high school programs across the country and bringing up the United States Constitution and whether the national anthem and American flag are symbols of oppression.
And now, the San Francisco 49ers are apparently moving on. The club is reportedly looking at three young quarterbacks with Mitch Trubisky (North Carolina), Deshaun Watson (Clemson), and DeShone Kizer (Notre Dame).
Colin Kaepernick donates $50,000 to Meals-on-Wheels, $50,000 to Love Army for Somalia in latest round of donations https://t.co/ABO3l3YLBJ— BigTimeFootball® (@BigTimeFootball) March 21, 2017
Harbaugh’s support for Kaepernick comes a year after U.S. President Donald Trump ripped him, saying the quarterback should “find a country that works better for him.” Trump also took mild shots at Kaepernick Monday during a speech in Kentucky.
As for the Super Bowl, Kaepernick has been there before. After dispelling Green Bay in the 2013 playoffs, the 49ers advanced to a showdown with Baltimore in a brothers Harbaugh coaching duel that went to the elder John’s Ravens. Kaepernick was 16-for-28 passing for 302 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 62 yards and another score.
Kaepernick was also an early choice for game MVP even though he tossed a first-half interception. He then failed to convert in the red zone more than once and blew a two-point conversion that would have knotted the game.
The Ravens squeaked by with a 34-31 win, and Joe Flacco earned the trophy for Most Valuable Player.
[Image by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images]