By Danny O’Neil
“Person of Interest” is a weekly feature in which we put the microscope on one player from the Seahawks’ upcoming opponent. This week, it’s San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick.
• Position: Multi-dimensional quarterback, potential cornerstone
• Height: 6-4
• Weight: 230
• Age: 26
• Experience: Third season
He began the season hailed as a cornerstone, one of four young quarterbacks who could be counted on to lead his team into the next generation.
Kaepernick was a second-round pick in 2011 who stepped in for Alex Smith halfway through last season and never looked back. He started seven games, led the 49ers to a pair of playoff victories and was one completion away from San Francisco winning a Super Bowl.
Things look a lot different one season later. Kaepernick is an undeniably explosive runner with a strong arm, but there are some rough edges in his game. He’s got a hiccup in his delivery that results in a longer-than-ideal release and he has had three different games with a passer rating below 50.
Of course, he’s also been piloting an offense that is noticeably devoid of receiving threats. Receiver Anquan Boldin and tight end Vernon Davis are the only two players who have caught touchdown passes for the 49ers this season, though Michael Crabtree is now back from a torn Achilles tendon.
Whether Kaepernick will be a franchise cornerstone remains a question, but there is no doubt he is the wild card, an X-factor who can change the game.
Like Seattle, San Francisco seeks to establish the run game. Like the Seahawks, the 49ers then seek to run play-action passes off that run game. And like Russell Wilson, Kaepernick is a dual threat to both run and pass.
“He’s shown a tremendous range of ability,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “He can run it like crazy. He’s a big, strong, fast guy who can run and get out and strike you dead. He’s got a big arm.”
Kaepernick has faced the Seahawks twice, both at CenturyLink Field, and he’s 32-for-64 passing for a total of 371 yards, one touchdown and he has been intercepted four times. If the 49ers win Sunday, they’re going to need a big performance from Kaepernick.