has started just seven regular-season games in two years in the NFL. (Robert Beck/SI)
Colin Kaepernick was brilliant last season after taking over for Alex Smith, as he led the 49ers' on their run to the NFC West title and took them to within a few yards of a Super Bowl championship.
It was impressive. It was surprising. It was enough, apparently, to convince ESPN's Ron Jaworski that we may be witnessing all-time greatness at work.
"I truly believe Colin Kaepernick could be one of the greatest quarterbacks ever," Jaworski said Wednesday on ESPN. "I love his skill set. I think the sky's the limit."
Jaworski has never backed down from heaping high praise on certain NFL signal callers, but nevertheless, that's a pretty eye-popping statement. Kaepernick's emergence was one of the big storylines of the 2012 season, as he completed 62 percent of his passes and completely transformed San Francisco's offense. With Kaepernick at the helm, the 49ers switched to an attack that took full advantage of his running abilities via such tactics as the read-option.
Still, Kaepernick has just seven regular-season starts (and three in the playoffs) under his belt -- Alex Smith was the starter before he suffered a concussion a little more than midway through last season. The bar for greatness has also already been set exceptionally high in San Francisco, thanks to quarterbacking legends Joe Montana and Steve Young.
The 25-year-old Kaepernick may have only started scratching the surface last season. Given a full offseason and preseason to work as the No. 1 QB, he might thrust himself into the mix as a Pro Bowler or All-Pro candidate in 2013.
Of course, you could argue that he's not even the best quarterback in his division -- Russell Wilson has at least a claim to that title. And the NFC also includes such A-list QBs as Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Eli Manning and Robert Griffin III, a glittering sample of the talent on display today at the game's most important position.
Ron Jaworski believes Kaepernick can be better than all of those guys, and maybe better than any QB who has come before them.