“If Colin Kaepernick were to come to you and say, ‘Jeff, I’ve topped out as an NFL quarterback, I don’t have the answers, I want to be the best I can be I and I want you to mold me,’ what would you say? What would you do with him? How good could he be with you as his coach?” These are the questions I ask.
The “Jeff” I’m asking over the phone is Jeff Garcia, the four-time Pro Bowl quarterback and the last protégé of the great Bill Walsh. That Jeff.
He takes a deep breath. “I don’t know. It all starts with wanting to be coached. I’ve… I’ve… I’ve, uh….” – Garcia chooses words carefully here – “I’ve been more than willing to have that opportunity to work with him in the past and, for whatever reason, it just hasn’t materialized.”
Kaepernick turned him down – that’s the reason. Went to Kurt Warner for help instead. And we see how that turned out. Not good.
Back to Garcia: “You have to want to change. You have to want to adapt yourself to what is going to allow you to be successful in the NFL, and it goes beyond just mechanics. It’s mental. The approach.
“I would want to just hear how he sees the game and how he talks about the game and what he sees when he steps to the line of scrimmage and what starts to go through his mind as far as the decision-making process. When you look at the great quarterbacks in the NFL, they’re able to foresee certain things that are happening, but they’re not predetermining their decision-making because things can change at the snap of the ball. To be able to go through the process of elimination in your mind and to be able to do that quickly, that takes a special gift, a special talent, and it takes a lot of repetition.
“You have to have it all. You have to have good feet. You have to have a quick delivery. You have to have a great mindset and an ability to adapt, an ability to read, an ability to process in a matter of two, three seconds. Being able to see how that all works within him, how he’s wired, would be the interesting thing to experience, and then take it from there. Because there will have to be some breakdown and build back up if he wants to be what he wants to be in the NFL.”
“Do you think Bill Walsh would have wanted to coach Kaepernick, or would Walsh have passed on that project?” I ask.
“You know,” Garcia says, and then he sighs. “I don’t want to make this a negative thing about Colin. Whether he is a guy that Bill would have liked or not, I think Bill would have taken on the opportunity to help mold and build Colin into a quarterback that can run his system efficiently.
“With Bill, it wasn’t just ‘my way or the highway.’ He would adapt to your abilities. And I think that is important, because Colin is a different type of quarterback. He brings a different skill set than a lot of other quarterbacks that are out there. And that’s one of the things from an athletic-ability standpoint he was able to get away with or utilize earlier in his first couple years of playing that he’s not having a chance to utilize as much today.