SEATTLE -#8211; Colin Kaepernick deserves praise. Really, he does. He lost the game to the Seahawks 23-17, well not all by himself. But if you were assigning blame, you'd call him the goat.
Sure, he deserves some praise. The only reason the 49ers were in the game, the only reason they were close enough to break your heart, is because of Kaepernick. Go figure him out.
He is so complicated. He defies all normal coaching parameters. One moment you are cursing him and in your next breath you are worshipping him for his improvisational skills and his unreal ability to play outside the boundaries of conventional quarterback play.
What a talent.
What a heartbreaker.
He is virtually the entire 49ers' offense, ran for 130 yards.
Relevant questions: Where is the 49ers' offense? What we saw, is that what it amounts to?
Back to Kaepernick -#8211; Good Colin. In the second quarter, he set up a touchdown with a 58-yard run, ran through a bunch of Seahawks, bouncing around like a pinball. Untouchable.
But he lost the game with bad play at the end -#8211; three turnovers in the second half. Good grief. Before we talk about the turnovers, let's walk into the postgame 49ers' locker room, into that room of ghosts. Let's get the feel.
Kaepernick wandered out of the shower. Looking dazed. He wore a green towel around his waist. No journalist went near him. Niners' public relations said he would talk in the interview room, and people left him alone knowing he would speak presently. Left him alone out of politeness.
They also left him alone the way you leave a grieving relative at a funeral. It was hard to find the words. You didn't want to intrude on his sad moment.
The receivers' lockers were near Kaepernick's. Anquan Boldin sat on his stool facing the depth of cubicle. Looking at nothing. Next to him, Michael Crabtree looked into his locker, staring at the void -#8211; the void of a season that had ended.
Crabtree whispered something to Boldin. Boldin is like an older brother to him, and you assumed -#8211; got the feeling -#8211; Crabtree was looking for solace, for a way to understand what happened. To handle it.
Nearby, Kaepernick slipped out of his towel and got dressed. Now, he sat on his stool and put on his shoes -#8211; sneakers. He said nothing. He stared at nothing. Maybe he thought about the second half. He needed to think about the second half, how he played under the game stress that defines and ruins quarterbacks.
While he dressed, Boldin started to leave the room. But he stopped and let a media group gather around him, hands holding microphones aimed at his mouth.
How did Kaepernick play? That's what everyone wanted to know.
"He played a great game," Boldin said, "made plays outside the pocket with his legs. Made some great throws. Played a heck of a game."
As you know, that was only half the story. It was a teammate protecting a teammate. We are not teammates, so, we ask hard questions.
Colin, Can you be a quarterback when the world is going nuts and everything depends on you? Can you do it, Colin?