According to ESPN NFL analyst Ron Jaworski, "Colin Kaepernick could be one of the greatest quarterbacks ever."
The Cardinal fan wants to be excited about his/her team. A new coach, a new direction, a new quarterback, an established superstar in Larry Fitzgerald, a budding superstar in Patrick Peterson, a brand new pet Honey Badger. With so much excitement being generated at Cardinals camp, this fan base badly wants to predict great things for 2013. But it can't. Not realistically. San Francisco and Seattle are too good.
So good that Bruce Arians felt the need to prick the league favorites just to cast some doubt over the established perception that the Niners and Seahawks are practically mortal locks to make the playoffs and would prove too much for even an improved Cardinals team to overcome. "I don't see the dominance that everybody else is talking about," he said of his chief division rivals.
Hardly bulletin board material. After all, he didn't say they weren't good. He just said they weren't going to be dominant. And yet, it became a national story because the generally accepted opinion is that San Francisco and Seattle will be dominant. And, oh by the way, St. Louis is also receiving high praise as an improved team this preseason.
This must be what Khloe Kardashian feels like to have lost 100 pounds and still be the least attractive person in the family. The Cardinals' front office may very well have put together a playoff-caliber team, but on paper they're the fourth best team out of four in their division.
And if that wasn't a bitter enough pill to swallow, now the most respected quarterback analyst on television is, in essence, telling Cardinal Fan that the 49ers are only going to get better in the years to come, that Colin Kaepernick has only begun to reach his potential as an all-time great.
And as bold a statement as it was to offer up for our consideration, I think Jaws may be right.
You see, Jaws was doing more than projecting a young player's long-term potential. He is also looking at where the game is headed. To use my favorite phrase, he wasn't just looking at the trees, he was reading the forest.
The NFL game is in a constant state of change. And right now, the league is doing everything it can to benefit offensive production. The way the game is being officiated, the way the quarterback is being protected, the way the receiver is being protected, the infusion of fast-break football (which is what I call Chip Kelly's offense), all of it works to benefit the quarterback, and more specifically the athletic quarterback. If you think the QB is valuable now, wait 'til Colin Kaepernick types begin routinely leading their team in passing AND rushing. And between arm strength, throwing accuracy, physical size, and athletic speed and maneuverability, Kaepernick is the most physically gifted of all the young quarterbacks that have recently entered the league and played at a Pro Bowl level from the word 'go'.
In addition, Kap seems to be setting out on a long and fruitful bromance with the best young coach (Jim Harbaugh) in football -- the same coach who tabbed the Nevada quarterback as the best player in the 2011 draft and moved up to get him in the second round, so the Cardinals wouldn't.
Look, I'm not saying Colin Kaepernick is destined to someday be mentioned in the same breath with Unitas, Manning or Elway, and frankly neither is Jaws. But the changes of the modern day game coinciding with the emergence of a freak athlete of a quarterback could surely result in production like we've never seen before. He has to keep working. He has to stay humble and driven. He has to keep his nose clean. And he'll need the organization to continue surrounding him with talent. If those elements are satisfied, then, yes, Colin Kaepernick could very well be the future face of the NFL and, as Jaws said, an all-time great.