Balls: Kap should be seen, not heard 

click to enlarge 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick has gotten rave reviews from Santa Clara camp, but his improvement needs to be seen on the field first. - TONY AVELAR/AP
  • Tony Avelar/AP
  • 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick has gotten rave reviews from Santa Clara camp, but his improvement needs to be seen on the field first.
Nice to hear so much positive talk about the, ahem, new-and-improved Colin Kaepernick at Levi’s Stadium the other day.

“I didn’t even know that was Colin,” joked Vernon Davis, still rumored to be the 49ers tight end after a thoroughly rotten season. “No, seriously. He was working on his drop-back, and I was just, ‘Who is that?’”

C’mon, wasn’t it was the 49ers who hosted the media spinfest on Friday? What was Davis supposed to say —“Our quarterback is a punk, and I just wish he’d get me the damn ball for a change”?

At least Kaepernick wasn’t plugged into his headphones permanently since we last saw him. He spent three months with ex-QB Kurt Warner in Phoenix, where they worked on mental approach. He also spent time on his mechanics with Dennis Gile, the 49ers quarterback coach.

“I feel like there’s been quite a bit of change,” Kaepernick said. “Obviously, it’s noticeable. Vernon said something to me right away when we started throwing. I just want to do everything I can to make sure I’m getting better and doing my part to help this team win. . . . To me, you have to be able to change and adapt to be the best player you can be.”

Yet, Kaepernick almost can’t help but get better next season if only because he can’t be much worse. It’s just that he can’t say it. He has to prove it, not for a couple or three games but month after month, home and away. Only then should people believe him.

Balls wants to hear what Davis and Kaepernick and the rest have to say after their next game against the Seahawks in Seattle. Then we’ll know whether the positive vibes are real or so much hot air.

LET’S PARTY LIKE IT’S 1978: The 49ers will hold a draft party on the first night of the NFL draft at the Great America Red Zone Rally, which is next door to Levi’s Stadium on the grounds of California’s Great America. Fans will be able to ride bumper cars and select roller coasters free of charge in preparation for the season ahead. You know, as in dip, plunge, crash.

LEAVE THEM KIDS ALONE: Kentucky staged a news conference to bid farewell to seven freshmen players — surprise, surprise — but a sales pitch was more like it.

Come on down to Lexington, kids! We’ve got openings!

Kentucky already has McDonald’s All-Americans Isaiah Briscoe, Skal Laissiere and Charles Matthews lined up for next season, and more young studs are on the way. Calipari is very good at this sort of thing. Now isn’t it time for him to find another challenge?

Calipari left the pro game with a sour taste two decades ago, but a lot has changed since then. Presumably, he’s a better coach now. Couldn’t Calipari win with close friend LeBron James in Cleveland, for instance? If the Cavaliers go belly up in the playoffs this season, don’t be surprised if he lands there sooner than later. It would be nice to see him win with men for a change, not boys.

CHIP OFF THE NEW BLOCK: Quarterback Luke Del Rio transferred from Oregon State to “start a new chapter in his life,” the sophomore said in a prepared statement. He had been expected to compete for a starter position after the departure of Sean Mannion, a projected late-round NFL draft pick.

Luke is the son of new Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio, who starts a new chapter himself this season. Balls just hopes it’s not titled “What The Hell Was I Thinkin’?!”

THE LIST: The Raiders and the 49ers figure to be in the market for a wide receiver in the early rounds of the draft. Balls combined the position rankings of several reputable talent evaluators, and here’s what it got:

1. Kevin White, West Virginia

2. Amari Cooper, Alabama

3. Devante Parker, Louisville

4. Dorial Green-Beckham, Oklahoma

5. Jaelen Strong, Arizona State

6. Devin Funchess, Michigan

6a. Breshad Perriman, Central Florida

6b. Devin Smith, Ohio State

9. Nelson Agholor, USC

10. Rashad Greene, Florida State

Got an opinion? A gripe? A compliment? (A compliment?!?) Send them to pladewski@sfexaminer.com and you may get your name in the paper one day.

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