Harbaugh failing to adapt with Kaepernick 

click to enlarge Colin Kaepernick
  • Matt Ludtke/ap file photo
  • Niners coach Jim Harbaugh needs to let quarterback Colin Kaepernick do what he does best and not force him into a pocket passer.

The most important part of being a coach, a boss or a teacher is putting those under your influence in a position to succeed.

To do that, one can't stick to a my way or the highway philosophy. One size does not, and never will, fit all. The best leaders identify the relative strengths and weaknesses of their charges, and find a way to maximize the strengths and either strengthen or minimize the weakness.

With respect to Colin Kaepernick, this is 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh's biggest failure.

Cliches exist for a reason. It's because most of them are tried-and-true. With that in mind, it's becoming increasingly clear that Kaepernick is a square peg, and Harbaugh is trying to jam him into a round hole.

For the sake of contrast, look to the north, to those turkey-grubbing Seattle Seahawks. Like the 49ers, they have a young quarterback with a unique, dynamic and nontraditional skill set. Unlike the 49ers, they have a coach in Pete Carroll who embraces that quarterback's uniqueness.

Unlike Kaepernick, Russell Wilson is not asked to be something he is not, i.e., a prototypical pocket passer.

Granted, Wilson came into the NFL a better passer been Kaepernick, who has a much stronger but far less accurate arm, and struggles mightily with the all-important midrange touch passes. But while Kaepernick is the bigger, stronger and faster all-around athlete of the two, Wilson is making far more mind-blowingly athletic and productive plays at this point in their respective careers.

Why? Because Carroll sees what Wilson brings to the table, shapes his offensive attack to suit what Wilson brings, and turns it all loose, putting the onus on the defense to figure out how to counteract such an unusual combination.

Harbaugh, on the other hand, has virtually robbed Kaepernick of his mind-blowing athleticism by asking him to do things that might come naturally to Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, but are as comically foreign to Kaepernick as is Borat to Dick Cheney.

Think about it. When was Kaepernick at his best? It was two years ago, shortly after he took over for Alex Smith -- who, ironically, is nothing if not that prototypical pocket passer Harbaugh is now trying to make Kaepernick. Back then, though, Harbaugh embraced Kaepernick's differences and allowed him to MAKE a difference by BEING different.

When was Wilson at his best? Right freaking now! Carroll hasn't changed his approach with or appreciation for his QB's organic game since the day he named Wilson, as a rookie, his starter despite having a seasoned and well-paid vet -- and pocket passer -- at the ready. As a result, Wilson has grown by leaps and bounds.

Not changed. Grown.

Harbaugh, for whatever reason, is asking Kaepernick to change. And if he continues to do so, Kaepernick will never grow. He'll regress.

In fact, the regression is well underway. And that, more than any personality conflicts or tweetroversy, is the primary reason it's probably time for Jaw-Set Jim to move on.

About The Author

Mychael Urban

Mychael Urban

Bio:
Mychael Urban has been covering Bay Area sports for 25 years and has worked for MLB.com, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area and KNBR (680 AM).
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