During the 2010 college football season, former NFL coach and legendary broadcaster John Madden tripped over plenty of Nevada games on TV. And Madden was impressed by the team’s quarterback, Colin Kaepernick.
“When I watched him, he had a strong arm,” Madden tells Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times. “You knew that. There’s a thing where a guy doesn’t have a strong arm, or the guy’s too small, or he can’t run — Kaepernick could do all those things.”
So Madden tried to find out why there wasn’t more NFL buzz about Kaepernick.
“I remember I said to [Raiders owner] Al [Davis],’What’s wrong with Kaepernick?’ And Al said,’Nothing.’ But I think Kaepernick was just under the radar.”
The nudge from Madden may have gotten Kaepernick on to Oakland’s Raider. Kaepernick has said he thought the Raiders would be drafting him.
“I always wondered, what was wrong with him?” Madden said. “Because I couldn’t see anything wrong. I just thought, there must be something wrong with him because he was never in play [among the top prospects]. Wherever the line was, he was next guy.”
Madden’s right. The first tier in 2011 consisted of Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, and Christian Ponder. All were taken in the first 12 selections of the draft.
Then came the Bengals at No. 35, who took Andy Dalton over Kaepernick. (Secretly, the Bengals could be regretting that one.) With the next selection, the 49ers removed Kaepernick from the board.
Madden is now a fan of Kaepernick, whose performance likely has been elevated by coaching from Jim Harbaugh. Kaepernick possibly wouldn’t have had the same impact with a different team. He’s had a huge impact in a fairly short time with the 49ers, and one of the big story lines for the coming season will be whether he can continue to do what he did in 2012 — especially with a depleted receiving corps.