NEW ORLEANS, LA- One should never judge a book by its cover.
That's a normality for the pretentious and superficial folk. Some are entrenched in today's tabloid journalism, and what a better place to display that ignorant posture on the NFL's biggest stage, the Super Bowl.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been a lightning rod for the media in the days leading up to the biggest game of his young career; he has a special story to tell in reaching the pinnacle game of a professional football player.
Kaepernick's adventure to NFL stardom has been covered ad nauseam in how he supplanted injured quarterback Alex Smith. But there's more to the athletic and gun-slinging Kaepernick the average fan may not know. Laden with tattoos that make him resemble a warrior and blessed with an arm strong enough to chuck a baseball 90 mph, Kaepernick puts trust in himself, faith and family.
"It's played a huge role. My faith is something that I lean on every day just to make sure I'm doing the right thing," Kaepernick said. "I always pray before every game, just thanking the Lord that he woke me up this morning and gave me this opportunity to step on the field."
The Lord also made sure Kaepernick found a loving family when he was put up for adoption. The adoption went through the proper channels and resulted in a better life for the Wisconsin native. Kaepernick's parents formulated his success, which is a storyline inquiring minds undoubtedly are intrigued with. People want to know more about Kaepernick not just because he's on the biggest stage in North American sports, but out of mere curiosity.
The NFL is a complete attention grabber and Kaepernick has maintained his cool gracefully throughout the entire process. Would he receive the same treatment of practically having his entire life under a microscope had the 49ers not reached the Super Bowl? Probably not, and the media could care less if he handled the deluge of personal questions poorly. Kaepernick has not, however.
Kaepernick was asked what he would say to kids waiting to be adopted during the hoopla that is NFL Media Day.
"Just keep your head up. God has a plan for them. You might not be able to see it right now, but he has one."
Much like how young people look up to Kaepernick, the second-year signal caller was inspired by former Green Bay Packers Super Bowl champion Reggie White. White, of course, was an inspiration to many and put his faith in the Lord as evidenced by his catchy moniker, the "Minister of Defense." Kaepernick enjoyed the way White played the game and handled himself.
Kaepernick's admiration for White was a crutch growing up and further cemented his belief that there truly is someone out there watching over you. Kaepernick said his faith is something to lean on and keeps him grounded. And now is the best time to invest in a higher power with all of the attention and shenanigans that come with playing in the Super Bowl.
There's a particular Bible verse, Psalm 18:39, that stands out for Kaepernick.
"The verse says, 'You arm me with strength for battle. You make my adversaries bow at my feet.' Basically it's saying that the Lord has given me all the tools to be successful, I just have to go out there and do my part to uphold that."
Kaepernick,a Turlock native,whose 10th career start will be Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens, has a tool box littered with "weapons" he plans on using to bring the city of San Francisco its sixth Super Bowl title. The 49ers are a perfect 5-0 in the final game of the NFL season and one more win would match the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most in league annals. His nine starts mark the third fewest by a QB entering the Super Bowl.
He hasn't resembled an inexperienced player since coach Jim Harbaugh made the controversial switch under center. Kaepernick has always waited for this moment and was groomed by former college coach Chris Ault, who's known as an offensive genius and actually contemplated moving Kaepernick to safety. Boy, are the 49ers glad Ault didn't go with those instincts?
Ault helped the precocious Kaepernick flourish in the pistol and read-option offense so much that San Francisco selected him in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Kaepernick knew the offense would benefit him in the NFL.
"I thought it would work to some extent. I didn't think it was something you could run every play," Kaepernick said. "There are too many good athletes on defense at this level. Not so much the speed, just the fact that everybody is good on defense. There are not really too many people you can just pick on in the NFL like there is in college."
Don't tell that to the Green Bay Packers. Green Bay was shredded by Kaepernick in the Divisional round of the playoffs to the tune of 263 yards passing, two TDs and one interception in a 45-31 rout. He also set the NFL single-game record for a quarterback with 181 yards rushing and two mores scores. Down 17-0 in the NFC Championship game at Atlanta, Kaepernick had a touchdown pass and relied on running back Frank Gore and a stingy defense. And that's what good quarterbacks do; they improvise and understand it's a team concept.
"I think people have put too much focus on me. I don't think they realize the other weapons we have on this team," Kaepernick said. "I don't think they realize the great offensive line that we have. There are a lot of other parts on this team that do great things to make it easy for me to go out there."
The offensive line has tightened up its pass protection with Kaepernick under center, and that's largely credited to his ability to move in and around the pocket. Smith, who has handled losing his job in stride and doesn't have nearly the athletic talent, said Kaepernick is a good player and sees the field very well. Kaepernick and Smith have a great working relationship even though it may seem the opposite. Kaepernick said Smith has done everything he can to help him progress, but understands the NFL can be a cruel business.
"It's a competitive situation. The NFL is a business and you have to take advantage of the opportunity when you have it," Kaepernick said. "Alex is a great guy. I have nothing but great things to say about him, but at the same time you have to try and do what's best for you at the same time."
Kaepernick said God watches over everybody and has a plan for all. His plan was set in the early stages of life and is now in the forefront of the highest level of football, and perhaps that defines the meaning behind his "Against all Odds" tattoo across his chiseled chest. He has defied the odds so far with an avant garde form of self-expression.
While God may not be cheering for one particular team to win Super Bowl XLVII, he has Kaepernick convinced he we won't be in this alone with faith, family and teammates on his side.