Colin Kaepernick has made change to what the 49ers have become since taking over at quarterback. Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh drafted him in the second round of the 2011 draft to be the franchise quarterback of the future. Kaepernick has shown the intangibles a quarterback needs in order to be an NFL quarterback.
While it isn’t always about putting up touchdown stats or passing yards for a quarterback, but what he does after a mistake. Kaepernick has engineered scoring drives for all five turnovers he committed this season. On the flip side, Alex Smith failed to score points for the 49ers in each of his last 10 interceptions.
“We have to score, that’s our whole offense mentality,” said Kaepernick. “We have to bounce back from a turnover.”
Quarterbacks rebounding from their own mistakes quickly is rare, according to Harbaugh.
“Every time there’s been an interception that he’s thrown, or safety or turnover, [Kaepernick] has responded with a scoring drive,” said Harbaugh. “I think that’s rare. I think that’s a rare quality. And so far he’s shown that he’s got that ability to come back.”
Harbaugh said he is amazed with the work ethic of Kaepernick and his ability to keep his composure after a turnover. Most quarterbacks would struggle or lose confidence if they make a mistake, but Harbaugh has seen the poise from Kaepernick to keep playing hard.
“As a quarterback, when you throw an interception in a game, there’s a tendency the next time to double check things,” said Harbaugh. “It’s not the way to do it. You want him to trust in what he sees and cut it loose. He’s shown a rare ability to do that, to not double check.”
Here is what happened each fumble or interception Kaepernick committed and what’s happened after it.
Turnover No. 1:
Kaepernick threw an interception in the second quarter against the New Orleans Saints. Drew Brees ended up throwing a pick-six on the ensuing Saints possession. Kaepernick responded on his next drive with a 45-yard pass to Delanie Walker followed by a short six-yard touchdown pass to Frank Gore.
Turnover No. 2:
Kaepernick tossed a pitch over the head of Ted Ginn Jr. resulting in a fumble on a triple option play against the St. Louis Rams. CB Janoris Jenkins recovered the loose ball resulting in a Rams touchdown. With the game tied after the touchdown and two-point conversion, Kaepernick scrambled for 50 yards to put the 49ers in field goal range. He later threw a pass on-target which would’ve resulted in a touchdown, but the ball was dropped by Delanie Walker. The team settled for a field goal to put the 49ers up 13-10.
Turnover No. 3:
Kaepernick threw an interception with the ball intended for Randy Moss in the end zone against the New England Patriots to start the third quarter. Stevan Ridley fumbled the ball on the next possession and the 49ers were in the red zone thanks to Dashon Goldson’ fumble recovery. Frank Gore ended up recovering a botched snap and ran it in the end zone for a touchdown. When Kaepernick had the opportunity to throw the ball again, he threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree on the ensuing 49ers’ possession.
Turnover No. 4:
Kaepernick threw an interception against the Seattle Seahawks in the beginning of the fourth quarter in Week 16. On the next possession, Kaepernick converted a fourth-and-17 by throwing a touchdown pass to Delanie Walker.
Turnover No. 5:
Kaepernick threw a pick-six to Sam Shields in the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers. He converted a third down with a 45-yard pass to Frank Gore and followed it up with a 20-yard run of his own for a touchdown on the next possession.