Thus far Wilson has obliterated Stafford and Ryan, dominated Griffin and Foles, and scrupilated Cam Newton. There aren't many contenders left for the challenge but now it's time for an NFC West bro-down show-down. Ding. Ding.
Three years ago, the quarterbacks in the NFC West were Alex Smith, Tarvaris Jackson, Sam Bradford, and Kevin Kolb. All you need to know about that horrorshop quartet is that Smith was the best of the bunch, and he was already well into a career in which he'd been outperformed by such studs as Trent Dilfer and Shaun Hill. The player with the brightest future was Bradford, and the Rams went 1-9 in his 10 starts that season.
And his biggest improvement is that last season he played in seven games wait that's fewer.
But 2011 was also a season that marked a turnaround for a division coming out of perhaps the longest and worst slump for any division in the modern era of football. After previous efforts to bring in younger quarterbacks with potential had failed, players like Charlie Whitehurst, Derek Anderson, and Matt Leinart, the West now stands as the best division in football. And it's not just because of the defenses.
(Though it is mostly because of the defenses.)
Carson Palmer helped the Cardinals finish with their highest "total offense" ranking since 2008, and Bradford, well... he keeps trying. Bless his little monkey heart. Yet while those two teams can rest solidly in the lower-middle class of quarterbacks, Seattle and San Francisco now boast two of the best young players in the league. Two QBs that seem adequately prepared to keep their respective teams in the Super Bowl hunt for the next decade.
Since November of 2012, few quarterbacks have performed better than Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick.
Over his 26 career starts, which began in replacement of an injured Smith on November 19 of the year two-thousand-and-twelve, Kaepernick has posted a passer rating of 95.0 while rushing for over 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns. Over Wilson's last 26 games, he's posted a passer rating of 106.6 with over 1,000 rushing yards and six scores on the ground.
In that time both have won the NFC. Both have won far more often than they lose. Both have made unbelievable plays and put their teams on their backs when they were most needed. But only one can be better.
And you better fucking believe it's Russell Wilson. Yeah, bellee dat!
Here is why.
Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
The physics: Six-feet-four-inches tall, two-hundred-thirty pounderinos, 27.4 BMI, 4.53 40-yard dash, 32.5" vert', 115" 'zont', 33.5" arms, 9-and-one-eighth's hand, and when he walks into a bar, the bartender says "Why the long face?"
The stats: 23 career regular season starts, 382-of-639 completions, 59.8%, 31 TD, 11 INT, 7.9 Y/A, 93.8 rating, 157 carries for 937 yards, nine touchdowns, 6.0 yards per carry, 17-6 regular season record, 4-2 postseason record
The question: "How the heck could Colin Kaepernick aka "I've Colin and I Kap't Get Up" be better than Russell Wilson and who in their right mind would rather have "Cl-cl-cl-Klaepper-nick over Super-Bowl-champion-Wilson???"
David Fucillo, Niners Nation:
Colin Kaepernick remains a work in progress, much like Russell Wilson, but he has shown an ability to make bigger plays when needed. Wilson can make his share of big plays, but Kap is bigger, faster and stronger than Wilson. Although the 49ers do not really ask him to make a ton of big plays, Kap has the tools necessary to do them on a more regular basis than Wilson.
From a pure scrambling perspective, Kap is faster in the open field, and like Wilson, he's smart enough to avoid the big hits. As a passer, Kap has the bigger arm. His accuracy still requires some work, but he is improving. And the combination of his running threat and his big arm has opened the door for plenty of big plays. The 49ers have the running game and defense to not require huge things for their quarterback, but they can still get them from him. Russell Wilson can make big plays for the Seahawks, but I think Kap can make them bigger and bolder.
His potential is the reason I'd rather have Kap than Wilson. Russell Wilson is showing immense potential, but I think Colin Kaepernick's ceiling as a quarterback is much higher than Wilson. Kap might not reach that ceiling, or even come close, but knowing he has the tools to be an all-time great (no, I'm not saying he's an all time great) makes it easy to want to see him continue his development with Jim Harbaugh.
I think a year from now, Kap will probably have the better contract. He and RW are both 9-figure quarterbacks, but Kap's deal is going to include less fully guaranteed money than Wilson. I think we'll end up seeing Kap's deal providing a lot more flexibility.
As for the personality stuff, I don't really concern myself with that. They are both good people as far as I'm concerned, and ideally, we'll soon reach a point where people feel the need to compare their Instagram feeds. They both do a lot of good for people, and that's all that matters.
More importantly, they both have it in themselves to make some awful TV commercials. I can't stand Wilson's Microsoft Surface commercial, but it's not like Kap's McDonalds commercial with Joe Flacco was any better.
Both Wilson and Kaepernick came into their respective drafts with numerous scouts gushing over their potential, but for wildly different reasons. Kaepernick was God's gift to physical ability, but he was considered a raw project full of potential and could either boom or bust, plus people weren't sure if he'd be successful outside of the kooky "pistol" formation at Nevada. Wilson was somewhat of an NCAA legend for his accomplishments, but you'd think that he literally could not succeed in the pros due to his height. Most agreed that if Wilson was six inches taller, he'd make it a 1-2-3 top of the draft next to Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin.
And possibly go ahead of both of them.
But neither managed to make it into the first round. Some Seahawks fans were upset that the team opted to pass on both Kaepernick and Andy Dalton at a time when they were nervously staring down a gun barrel loaded with Whitehurst and Jackson. Yet clearly Pete Carroll and John Schneider obviously didn't see him worthy of the 25th overall selection that they ended up using on James Carpenter. Of course, it's worth noting that the duo also didn't see Wilson as being a fit in the first or second round pick either.
It's possible that they were eyeing Kaepernick for a later draft pick, but he only managed to make it past 35 teams before San Francisco selected him as a successor to Smith, who at the time was still really, really, really, really, really, really ... shitty.
But Kap's raw potential kept him out of nearly every play during his rookie season while Smith finally excelled for the first time in his career. Kap made just five pass attempts and had only two carries in 2011 as the team went from 6-10 to 13-3, falling an overtime-against-the-Giants short of the Super Bowl.
Though Smith performed adequately well that season, the job was still up-for-grabs if Kaepernick could grasp it with his Aeon Flux-like arms. He couldn't, at least not until more than halfway into the season and following an injury to Smith. But when he did get a hold of the job, he was sure not to let go of it.
Down 17-7 to the Rams in the fourth quarter, Kaepernick took over for Smith and helped them come back to, well, tie it at least. The next week he made his first career start and threw for 243 yards and two touchdowns in a blowout win over the Bears. The following week he scored two touchdowns in a win over the Saints. Later in the season, Kaepernick threw for four touchdowns in a 41-34 win over the Patriots. But most will probably remember that the first time they knew Kap was special win in his first career playoff game.
In a 45-31 win over the Packers, Kaepernick threw for 263 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 181 yards on only 16 carries with two more scores. It was like watching Marques Tuiasosopo in college except at the pro level and in a game that mattered.
He'd help the 49ers beat the Falcons in the NFC title game before throwing for over 300 yards in an air-tight loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl. San Francisco fell just short of their first championship in nearly 20 years, but it became clear that if Kap can continue to play like this, they'll have plenty more chances to get that next Super Bowl ring and stop bitching to us about ours.
In less than two seasons as a starter, Kaepernick has already won two playoff games in each of the last two years. Consider for a moment that Matt Ryan has won one career playoff game. Tony Romo is 1-3 in his playoff career. Jay Cutler has only been to the playoffs once at all. Philip Rivers has won four career playoff games. Peyton Manning didn't win his fourth career playoff game until he was nearly 10 years into his career.
"But QB wins aren't a stat."
Sorry I have to go here, but my retort is "shmooschbee shmins shmaren't a shmat."
Winning is the ultimate goal for any team, and quarterback play is the ultimate reason that teams win football games. Take last season for example, when Peyton Manning was the reason the Broncos dominated the AFC on their way to the Super Bowl, and also his inability to perform in New Jersey was the reason that they didn't win that Super Bowl. Had the Denver defense disrupted Wilson in the way that the Seattle defense disrupted Manning, it would've at least been a much closer contest.
But when Wilson and Kaepernick are performing at their best, their teams usually win. You don't have to look much further than the last five meetings between these two teams. In his three losses to the Seahawks, Kaepernick has thrown six interceptions. In Wilson's two losses to the 49ers, he's thrown a pick in each and done absolutely nothing in the running game.
San Francisco was good with Smith (after Jim Harbaugh took over, of course) but they could be great with Kaepernick. His potential provides them with more hope than they've had in the last 15 years, and the best news of all is that unlike Steve Young or Jeff Garcia, he's not starting his career at 30.
I don't know that I would necessarily pick Kaepernick over Cam Newton, if only because we have a better idea of what Newton is, however I also believe that Kaepernick has a ceiling that stretches (pun intended) higher than Newton, higher than Wilson, and higher than possibly any other quarterback in the NFL. He's 6'4, he can throw, he can run, and he might just be the only QB in the league that can make Seattle fans sweat a little bit when he's going against our defense. (Despite his poor 1-3 record against Seattle, don't forget that he did rush for 130 yards in the championship game and yes, I pooped a little before Richard Sherman tipped his pass to Smitty when the team was only up six points.)
However, the questions I posed to the other bloggers for this series were "Why is your QB better and why would you rather have your QB?" NOT "Does your QB have more potential?" and yes, I obviously think there is a difference.
I'm going to have to throw the hammer down on this one, because Wilson is still the best answer possible.
Why Russell Wilson is better
What I find interesting is that when comparing Kaepernick to Wilson, only one of them has been statistically outstanding -- to levels rarely, if ever, seen before -- while the other has just been great.
It's Wilson, not Kaepernick, that currently holds the best home passer rating (112.8) in NFL history (minimum 350 attempts.)
It's Wilson, not Kaepernick, that currently holds the best November passer rating (125.9) in NFL history (min. 100 attempts, Wilson's is more than 20 points higher than any other QB.)
It's Wilson, not Kaepernick, that sports a 17-1 home record (Kap is 13-3) which is good for the current best home winning percentage by anyone in NFL history, so far well-ahead of Tom Brady.
It's Wilson, not Kaepernick, that has so far not lost a game by more than seven points in his NFL career. Kaepernick has lost four career games by at least 15 points.
Arguments that Wilson has a better supporting cast are invalid, because Vernon Davis is the best receiver on either team and Anquan Boldin is a close second. (Percy Harvin would qualify anywhere from one to three when healthy but he hasn't been healthy, so what does it matter?) Not only that, but Kaepernick's offensive line is exponentially better than Seattle's and which of you Niners fan is going to dispute me on that?
For that matter, which 49ers fan is going to dispute that even if San Fran doesn't have quite as great a defense as the Seahawks do, it's about as close as anyone else in the league can get right now. And schedule? They play in the same division, so it's nearly identical, with the main difference being that Wilson doesn't have to face his own defense. An advantage to be certain, but hardly enough reason to say that Kaepernick's stats aren't as good as Wilson's "simply because of this."
There's no reason to make excuses for why Kaepernick hasn't been as good statistically as Wilson has. Their respective performances up to this point should be indisputable: So far, Wilson has been better. And better when it mattered.
In eight career losses, Wilson hasn't been great. As expected, most quarterbacks are off their game a bit when they lose, and Wilson has thrown nine interceptions against nine touchdowns when the Seahawks lose. His passer rating drops from 111.6 when Seattle wins to 72.8 when they lose. When the 49ers lose, Kaepernick is abysmal. In his seven career losses, Kap has thrown just three touchdowns against seven interceptions with a passer rating of 59.7. He has rushed for eight touchdowns in the games that San Francisco has won with him as the starter versus zero rushing touchdowns when they lose.
While the Seahawks sometimes manage to lose despite Wilson (think of losses to the Falcons, Dolphins, Lions, in which Wilson led comebacks in each) it seems like the Niners sometimes lose because of Kaepernick (I can think of one play in particular.) Wilson has been the guy you want with the ball in his hands when your team is down six points with less than two minutes to go for as long as he's been known to football fans. From NC State to Wisconsin to Seattle, he sweats "refuse to lose" like Jeff Hornacek sweats sweat.
Kaepernick can absolutely do things physically that Wilson cannot do and maybe his potential is higher than Wilson's potential but nothing, nothing, NO-THING, matters more than winning. After watching the Super Bowl against the Ravens and the NFC title game against Seattle, do you honestly feel that Colin Kaepernick presents you with a better chance of winning than Russell Wilson does?
There is no question in my mind that as of this writing, after two seasons of both, Wilson is the better player. Nearly every stat backs up that notion, and it won't matter how many caveats are thrown at me by Kap-proponents, the numbers will still be better. This is something you'll see in a number of different arguments, and it's the "Cake-and-eat-too" defense:
- "Wilson may have better numbers, but he's had a better supporting cast!"
- You reply, "Okay, are your receivers better than the Seattle receivers?"
- "Is your offensive line better than the Seattle offensive line?"
- "And your defense, is that better too?"
- "What of the coaches?"
- "Ours are superior, of course."
- "And why aren't your QB's numbers better?"
- "He doesn't have anyone else on the team helping him."
- "Ok, great. Thanks."
When it comes to their ability to run the football, Kaepernick has an explosive ability to go off for one play that Wilson probably doesn't have. I mean, Wilson could of course break off a 50 or 60-yard run, but Kaepernick is just "quicker" in the open field and moves in a way that few quarterbacks have ever moved. But Wilson is still a top-5 runner in the league, with an elusiveness that few quarterbacks have ever... eluded.
Yet it's plain for me to see that Wilson is the better decision-maker, the better passer, and arguably the most cold-blooded QB in the NFL. He gets equally-amped for every game, whether it's the preseason or the Super Bowl. That's not something you can teach. It's part of the reason that he has one career playoff interception while Kap has five.
So what about whether or not I'd rather have Wilson or Kaepernick? Because potentially Kaepernick is going to be better over the next 15 years. Not only that, but as Fooch alluded to, his contract is basically risk-free for the team, while Wilson's deal will most likely sit in the range of $50-$70 million guaranteed if all goes well this season.
There are plenty of reasons to say, "We've got perhaps the best of Wilson, now let's get potentially the best of Kaepernick" and choose to rather have the taller and more athletically-gifted of the two players. But funk that noise.
If this is the best that Wilson has to offer, then great. Awesome. Then the Seahawks currently have one of the five or six best quarterbacks in the NFL. Even if Kaepernick turned out to be the best QB in the league, I don't think he'd be that much better than what Wilson is now. And even if he was one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history, say, as good as Peyton Manning, well ... Wilson has already proven himself of being able to be on the winning side against one of the best in history. What more is there to prove?
I agree with Fooch on nearly every one of his points:
- That Kap has more potential due to his freakish athletic abilities
- That Kap's contract, though bigger now, is almost certainly going to be the easier to swallow of the two by next year
- That the personality stuff is overblown and overhyped, and shouldn't play much of a factor here
But I would just say that we've come to our conclusion to draw from those points. Is it because of our own personal bias.
Of course I mean, no!
As far as the contract goes, I'm not sure how much it will end up mattering. If Kaepernick's contract is easier to get out of, it just means that San Francisco had a reason to want to get out of it, and that's not a good thing. As far as the physical stuff goes, none of that has stopped Wilson from being one of the five best first-two-season QBs in NFL history, and I don't expect any of it to matter by the time he retires. If anything, his size is what motivates him to work harder and stay more focused than most everyone else.
I have an idea of what Kaepernick could be, but I know what Wilson is:
Russell Wilson is better and I'd rather have Russell Wilson.