Road to the Super Bowl: The Colin Kaepernick Story
We all know Colin Kaepernick as the QB of the 49ers, but what people might not know much about, is how he got there. When Colin was born, his mother Heidi Russo, a (now) 44-year old nurse from Colorado, was 19 years old, nearly broke, and out of wedlock. She cared for him for a few months before giving him up to Rick and Teresa Kaepernick, who had two children. They had also lost two boys to heart defects. They claim it was a major factor into why the chose to adopt Colin. After Heidi dropped Colin off with the Kaepernicks, she would receive letters and pictures from them every so often until Heidi asked that they cease. She simply found it to be too painful to see her son grow up.
In his youth, Colin excelled at sports. He began playing football at age eight, and by age nine, was the starting quarterback. In high school, Colin grew to be an unbelievable three-sport athlete. He was an all-state football, basketball, and baseball player. Oddly enough, it was his baseball skills that caught collegiate attention, not his football abilities.
He was listed on the 2006 MLB website as being a draftable prospect out of high school. He was a two-time all-state pitcher. He finished his senior season with a record of 11-2, an ERA of 1.265, with 10 complete games, and 97 strikeouts. He touted a 92 mph fastball, which we still see today on the football field. The Chicago Cubs selected Colin in the 43rd round of the 2009 MLB draft.
During his senior football season, Colin led his high school to their first-ever California state playoff victory and was named the Central California Conference (CCC) MVP. However, college scouts felt he had an unorthodox throwing motion, and believed him to be too light (he was 6’ 5”, 170 lbs. at the time). In his high school offense, he was also rarely allowed to run, as they tried to protect him from injury. As we all know now, this is a big part of his game. At the end of the football season, he still had no scholarship offers to play football.
It wasn’t until a University of Nevada scout saw him play in a basketball game later in the year that he got noticed. Colin played through the game with a 102 °F fever, and absolutely dominated. Nevada decided to offer him a football scholarship, which he signed in February of 2006.
At the outset, Colin redshirted. A move you see pay dividends from time to time (like redshirt freshman guard Ben McLemore for the University of Kansas, talked about as a potential #1 overall pick in the NBA draft). The next year, as a redshirt freshman, Colin got his chance to play after the Nevada starter went out for the season with a foot injury. Entering halfway through the second quarter, Colin amassed 384 passing yards with 4 TDs and 60 yards rushing in a loss to Fresno State. The next week, he led the Wolfpack into Boise State (who had never lost to a WAC conference foe at home). The game went to four overtimes, but Nevada came up short. Kaepernick’s stat line? A whopping 177 yards rushing with two scores and 243 yards passing for 3 TDs. He went on to set WAC records and consistently rank in the nations top-five in QBR. By the end of his senior season, he was the only NCAA Division I player to throw for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 in three straight seasons. He was selected 45th overall by the San Francisco 49ers, who traded up picks with the Denver Broncos in order to draft Colin.
As for his NFL career, well, as Alex Smith knows best: it came on in a blaze. Can he keep the heat for one more game?