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COHN: Kaepernick's pregame ritual a glimpse of new QB concept

  • SF QB Colin Kaepernick runs for 30 yards in the first quarter during San Francisco's victory over the Green Bay Packers, Saturday Jan. 12, 2013 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

SANTA CLARA

One of my Sunday pleasures is watching Colin Kaepernick warm up before games.

I sit in the press box at home or on the road waiting for him to appear, usually two hours before the game. He comes out in shorts and a sweatshirt, comes out when the field is deserted except for the practice-squad guys, and he goes through a long, involved routine.

San Francisco 49ers vs. Green Bay Packers

X

He is an athlete getting his body ready. I am not saying he is a quarterback getting his body ready. "Athlete" is the operative word.

He runs wind sprints the length of the field, runs them alone, a solitary man practicing a solitary pursuit. Then he stretches his body on the grass in the end zone. With one side pressed against the turf, he does scissor kicks. He rolls onto the other side and performs more kicks.

He keeps warming up his legs, does nothing with his right arm for a long time. You think of a hurdler. He does dynamic stretching, working his hamstrings while he jogs and jumps. Every movement he's choreographed. Kaepernick is an athlete methodically awakening every relevant muscle in his body.

After a long time, he starts to throw the ball, but not the way you think. He stands still and throws without moving his legs. The first throw is usually 15 yards and it's a bullet. He throws using only his upper body.

When he's ready, he uses his whole body — plants his feet and throws like a quarterback. This he does for a long time while Jim Harbaugh observes. The whole time he is unto himself, behind an invisible barrier. He carries himself like an athlete in a solo sport — a runner, a fighter, a tennis player. He was a pitcher in high school, threw a 94 mph fastball, got drafted by the Cubs — and in baseball, pitcher is as solitary as it gets. He is a man alone the way Jerry Rice was alone before games. He immerses himself in his world of brain and body and he gets ready.

I imagine when he returns to the locker room he is drenched in sweat. I imagine many football players could not survive his warm-up.

I have seen him without his shirt. Every muscle in his upper body is defined — he could be the chart of the body's muscles in a doctor's office. When I see his upper body, I think boxer — Muhammad Ali, Ray Leonard.


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