|Off to the Super Bowl but is the 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick up to the challenge? |
It doesn’t happen often. The Superbowl is a sacred place, a land that is ridiculously difficult to get to, and even more difficult again to conquer. Many have tried and only a chosen few have prevailed. The challenge increases exponentially when your team has a rookie QB at the helm. Nevertheless that’s exactly what San Francisco will try this coming Sunday night, as they go into the game with rookie Colin Kaepernick leading the way.
Kaepernick is an interesting young man. Just 25 (Rookies are a little older in the States than you might expect, as 99% of them complete a full college career before being selected into the NFL) he was a standout QB for his college team, Nevada, where he won plenty of awards for excellence at the QB spot. The 49ers took interest, and chose him in the 2nd round of the NFL draft with the 36th overall pick. He has an absolute cannon of an arm, and as he exhibited in particular against the Packers, a surprisingly veteran-like ‘touch’ on his passes too. The kicker, the kid is lightning quick out of the pocket, and can beat you not only with his arm, but his legs too.
This means Baltimore are going to have to keep an eye on the 49ers receivers, RB Frank Gore, and also Kaepernick rushing on his own.
However, history is against San Francisco. Just how difficult a challenge faces the 49ers and their fresh faced, multi tattooed young star? The fact of the matter is, no true rookie QB has ever won the Superbowl. Kurt Warner was hardly a rookie when he won it with the Rams, he had played both in NFL Europe and in the Arena football league too. Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady were both actually in their second years in the NFL when they won it, something some people forget.
The Superbowl is simply not a welcoming place for rookie QBs.
Can Kaepernick buck that trend? The funny thing is, much depends not on him, but on the defence that San Francisco has on the ‘other side’ of the ball. The 49ers have an absolutely dominant line, huge, fast defensive backs and a defensive coordinator who is not afraid to gamble with multiple, unique ‘Blitz’ looks that have confused opposition QBs all season long.
The game will probably come down to Baltimore players QB Joe Flacco and RB Ray Rice. Either, or preferably from a Ravens point of view, both of those guys are going to have to have superb outings for the Ravens to have a chance. Rice is going to have to gain some yards in the rushing game in order to open up gaps for Flacco and his strong arm to exploit. The Ravens love the play-action pass, but that tactic goes out the window completely if you can’t convince the opposition you are going to run the ball with any authority.
The problem for the Ravens is, there is no better front seven (the linemen and linebackers, basically) in the NFL than the 49ers. Ray Rice, talented and gutsy as he is, has his work cut out for him, and the 49ers will basically force Flacco to air it out and beat them over the top. You have to consider, can Flacco do this on his own?
So back to our original question. Can rookie QB lead his 49ers to the Superbowl? Absolutely, yes he can, however almost as much depends on his team’s defence as on his arm (and in Kaepernick’s particular case, his legs!).
My pick (would love to hear yours in the comment section below): San Francisco -3.5
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