Kap better without Coach Khaki Pants

Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .

Add Frank Gore’s name to the growing list of Colin Kaepernick bashers. The former San Francisco 49ers running back, now with the Indianapolis Colts, said this week of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, “He’s smart. He makes me feel young. He runs the huddle. I never had that.” Kaepernick, who was Gore’s quarterback the last three seasons, simply responded by saying he wasn‘t worried about Gore’s comment. The Kaepernick bashing has to stop. This is a guy who is 29-16 as a starter in the NFL and has already been to two NFC title games and one Super Bowl. He’s thrown for more than twice as many touchdowns as interceptions (50-21) in his career and is just nine yards away from going over the 10,000 mark in rushing and passing yards combined in his career. The best is yet to come. How many Super Bowls has Andrew Luck played in?

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The early reports out of 49ers camp, despite Gore’s comments, have all been favorable where Kaepernick is concerned. His new and improved throwing motion has gotten good reviews. And he’s taking more control of the huddle. The 49ers now even let Kaepernick verbally call out the plays in the huddle during practice. Former 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, as if he was coaching some 14-year-old high school freshman, would pop his head into the huddle at practice and call the play. That says more about Harbaugh than it does about Kaepernick.

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Harbaugh leaving the 49ers will be the best thing to ever happen to Kaepernick’s career. Coach Khaki Pants might have been good for Kaepernick early in his career. He was always supportive of Kaepernick and showed a ton of confidence in Chris Ault’s former quarterback. He took Kaepernick by the hand and guided him to the Super Bowl in 2012. But Kaepernick’s development seemed to hit a wall under Harbaugh’s conservative, all-controlling guidance. Kaepernick can be one of the most explosive players in the NFL. He just needs a coach who allows him to be unique.

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Don’t be surprised if Cody Fajardo sticks with the Oakland Raiders this season. Fajardo has to overcome many of the same concerns that have plagued Kaepernick. His throwing motion is long and deliberate, he doesn’t read defenses all that well, he locks onto one receiver and he isn’t all that accurate. But, also like Kaepernick, he’s a once-a-generation athlete. You don’t just release quarterbacks as athletic as Fajardo, especially when the alternative is Matt McGloin. Fajardo could very well land on the Raiders’ practice squad or, if Matt McGloin is traded, make the 53-man roster as the No. 3 quarterback behind Derek Carr and Christian Ponder.

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Wolf Pack coach Brian Polian insists he has no idea right now who’s going to be the starting quarterback in just 27 days when the Pack opens the season against UC Davis. He also says he has no preconceived notion about who he wants to win the job. Believe him if you want to. Polian has been around football too long to not have any preconceived notion about who should be the starting quarterback just four weeks before the start of the season. The most revealing statement Polian made this week about the quarterback situation was when he said Wisconsin transfer Austin Kafentzis would be given every opportunity to win the starting job if he’s declared eligible by the NCAA. That says all you need to know about the other three (Hunter Fralick, Tyler Stewart, Dante Mayes) quarterbacks.

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This is Stewart’s fourth season at Nevada, Mayes’ third and Fralick’s second. And Kafentzis, who had all of one practice under his belt as of Thursday morning, will have the chance to just walk into northern Nevada this summer and win the starting job for the next four years? Good for Polian. That’s exactly the right thing to say. Stewart, Fralick and Mayes haven’t earned a thing by simply sitting behind Fajardo. They have to earn the job. The position of starting quarterback at Nevada is not to be taken lightly. There’s a storied tradition to live up to, a standard of excellence. You don’t simply become the starting quarterback because that’s what it says in the departed quarterback’s will. If Kafentzis is the best quarterback on the roster he should start, no matter how long he’s been in northern Nevada.

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If Ault was still the head coach there’s little doubt Stewart, the only quarterback on the roster who has started a game at the Division I level, would start against Davis. He’d also probably allow Stewart to take his lumps against Arizona the following week. See Tyler Lantrip in 2011. Don’t forget Ault made Kaepernick wait five games and Fajardo four games before they were given the keys to the offense. And they both also had a full year of studying as pistol apprentices at Nevada under Ault on their resumes. Kafentzis’ only pistol experience is watching Kaepernick highlights on YouTube.

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What does Polian know about playing quarterback? Well, not much. But he watched Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M, Andrew Luck at Stanford and Brady Quinn and Jimmy Clausen at Notre Dame. So he knows what the position should look like. What does he know about picking a starting quarterback? Even less than nothing. This is the first quarterback decision of his career. What Polian does know is the scoreboard. He has made it clear the quarterback at Nevada must put points on the board. He also said the quarterback must not turn the ball over but Fajardo turned it over plenty and never was in jeopardy of losing his job. So it’s all about points. “The scoreboard doesn’t care how you get to the end zone and it doesn’t care what year the quarterback is,” Polian said. In other words, “Just score, baby.”

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