It wasn’t until game 10 of his second season as a quarterback with the San Francisco 49ers that Colin Kaepernick finally got the call to lead his team in a regular season game, but once Kaepernick took the field, it started a whirlwind that hasn’t stopped yet. Once starting quarterback Alex Smith went down with a season-ending injury, Kaepernick stepped in and finished his first partial season at the helm by narrowly missing a Superbowl following a loss to the NY Giants in the NFC Championship game.
“It’s been an amazing experience my first year, especially with the year we had,” Kaepernick said. “It was amazing. I hadn’t been there the years before when things weren’t so good, but you can tell a lot of the players that have been there, it was different to them. They were excited about it. When you get that vibe from your teammates, you know that it’s really something special. I think having it be like that your first year it’s almost harder to appreciate how hard it is to get there because you haven’t not been there.”
“It’s a little different that way, but it was such a great run. It was a lot of hard work by our team. Hopefully in the future years we can finish it off. I think everybody is going to have that in the back of their head for a long time. We’ll definitely be ready for next season and what’s to come. ”
Kaepernick was in Sparks Saturday night speaking to local parishioners at the Summit Christian Church. The former Nevada Wolf Pack star and current 49ers starting quarterback was making his second appearance at the local church after talking with its members last spring.
Kaepernick has made no secret of his faith and used Saturday’s speaking engagement to elaborate about how his faith has played a big role in his life and athletics.
In his first NFL playoff game Kaepernick endured a very close contest with the New Orleans Saints in which the games outcome was in question until the last seconds of the game. As a first year starter Kaepernick was on pins and needles on the sidelines as the game clock ticked down.
“The last five minutes of that game, I was like ‘Alright, we’re going to win. We might not win now. Wait, yeah we’re going to win. Oh, we only have like 30 seconds left. Oh, okay, we won. Let’s get off this field, I’m about to have a heart attack over here.’ It’s worse watching than it is playing. When you’re playing, you’re so focused on what you have to do, and everything that is going on, that it’s almost more relaxing than just watching.”
The transition from college superstar to NFL back up was not without its challenges for Kaepernick his first year with the 49ers.
“The amount of time you put in and the mental aspect of the game is crazy,” Kaepernick said. “There’s times where I’ll be in the football offices at 6:30 in the morning and won’t leave till 7:00 or 8:00 at night. Looking back, it’s a constant grind. People always tell you that as a rookie you’re going to hit a rookie wall at some point in the season and I did start to notice the effects of the long season.”
“You have four preseason games, plus the 16 games, and then we went two games into the playoffs, so that is almost two college seasons when you add up all the games. There is a point during the season where you’re kind of like ‘Man, we’re just going, and going and going.’ You don’t really know when it’s going to end, you just keep going.”
Kaepernick’s move from the starting quarterback and leader of his college team at Nevada to the back up role behind Alex Smith in San Francisco may have been the most difficult part of the transition from NCAA to NFL.
“For me, the hardest thing was not playing,” Kaepernick said. “My whole life, I’ve always played. And this year I didn’t. You get so used to being in the mode of being on the field and competing that when you’re not, you almost feel off because you’re not doing what has become accustomed to you. So the change in what I was doing, and what I was used to, didn’t feel quite right.”
Colin’s faith played a major role in helping him deal with the unknown and rigors of his new position.
“I know there were times in the season where you start looking at things, especially this being my first year and not playing. I’d ask God what his plans are for me,” Kaepernick said. “What is God trying to do with me right now? For me, there were times where I’d wonder if I was in the right place and in the right situation, and you have to fall back on God in situations like that and trust him and know that his plan is perfect for you. Wherever you’re at, whatever you’re doing, that’s what his plan is for you and you have to make the best of it and keep moving forward and keep striving and things will work out.”
Without his faith in God, Kaepernick feels that the game he loves wouldn’t hold quite the attraction that is does when he is able to incorporate his faith with football.
“I don’t think most people look at football players as what they’re doing out here is trying to glorify the Lord,” Kaepernick said. “I think a lot of people think of it as oh it’s a game, let’s go win. Ultimately, that’s your goal, that’s what you want to do, but you also want to glorify the Lord on your way to doing that.”
“My faith is the basis from where my game comes from. I’ve been very blessed to have the talent to play the game that I do and be successful at it. I think God guides me through every day and helps me take the right steps and has helped me to get to where I’m at. When I step on the field, I always say a prayer, say I am thankful to be able to wake up that morning and go out there and try to glorify the Lord with what I do on the field. I think if you go out and try to do that, no matter what you do on the field, you can be happy about what you did.”
As a star NFL player Kaepernick is happy to be able to use his exposure as a platform to potentially influence others and show them how his faith has helped him and may be able to provide the same solace to others who have seen the positive effect it has had for him.
“It’s almost indescribable. Growing up, I was the kid that was running around looking at high school athletes in my area that were doing well and saying ‘Man, one day I’m going to be like that,’ and then I’d meet someone that was in college or the pros and think ‘Man, that’s my dream, that’s what I want to become,’ and to be a in a position where you can be a role model for kids like that and send a positive example, a positive message to them, I really want to take advantage of that opportunity and send the right message and be a good role model to those kids.”