Quickly, what do you remember about Colin Kaepernick’s Super Bowl performance?
Well, there was that awful pick. And I feel like he missed a few open receivers. I guess he played well enough, but I don’t know, it just kind of looked like the gravity of the moment got to him at times.
That’s how I felt Sunday as the purple confetti rained down inside the Superdome and the 49ers sauntered off the field. But then I looked at Kaepernick’s stat line: 16-of-28 for 302 yards, one touchdown and one interception for a quarterback rating of 91.7. He also ran the ball seven times for 62 yards and a score.
Remember—this was a guy making his 10th career start. And if the 49ers had been able to find the end zone on that final drive, his name would have been thrown into the mix for Super Bowl MVP.
Like he did all postseason long, Kaepernick got off to a slow start in this game. On the 49ers second possession, on a second-and-goal from the 8-yard line, he had Michael Crabtree open in the front of the end zone and Randy Moss open in the back of it. Kaepernick kind of threw the ball between the two wide receivers and it ended up incomplete. Then there was the interception and a badly overthrown pass intended for Moss.
But the second-year signal caller seemed to be energized by the third quarter blackout—going 8-of-15 for 163 yards and a touchdown to go along with 46 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown from that point on. He had a 4-of-4-for-72-yards-and-a-touchdown stretch thrown in the middle there, too.
And Kaepernick wasn’t the only offensive player who showed out on Sunday. Crabtree had five receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Vernon Davis also had a 100-yard game. And Frank Gore racked up 110 yards and a score on just 19 carries.
All off those playmakers will be back in San Francisco next year, and all five starting offensive linemen are locked up for next season as well. Defensively, only two starters—nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga and free safety Dashon Goldson—will become free agents next year.
So despite their current disappointment, the 49ers are in a much better position than most teams across the NFL landscape.
Recent history says it will be tough for San Francisco to get back to the Super Bowl. No team has made consecutive appearances in the game since the Patriots did it following the 2003 and ’04 seasons. But with almost every starter back in 2013 and the progress Kaepernick showed in his short time as the starter, there’s no reason to think the 49ers won’t have another chance to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
Maybe I’m drinking the Kool Aid after following this team all season. But when you look ahead to next season, really, who’s got it better than them?