Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports



On 3rd and 8, from the 15 yard line, in the first quarter of Thursday Night's San Francisco 49ers preseason game vs. the San Diego Chargers, quarterback Colin Kaepernick took the snap, dropped back, and fired a 14-yard pass to wide receiver Dres Anderson in between three Chargers defenders, who all flailed helplessly at the ball as it struck Anderson in the numbers for a completion to the 1-yard line. If you start listing the NFL quarterbacks who could make that throw, with that velocity, and that accuracy, your list is going to be extremely short. Aaron Rodgers immediately comes to mind. You could count a few others but your list won't exceed five: and Kaepernick is on that list.

To put it in perspective: At 88.4, Kaepernick has the 10th highest career passer rating of all active NFL quarterbacks. This is not ESPN's Total QBR stat, which takes rushing yards into account, but the traditional passer rating statistic that has been used by the NFL since 1973 to determine its passing leader. The formula for calculating the passer rating considers passing attempts, completions, yards, touchdowns, and interceptions.

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The nine quarterbacks with higher career passer ratings than Colin Kaepernick are Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Tony Romo, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan and Matt Schaub. Of those nine, four are locks for the Hall of Fame: Rodgers, Brady, Brees and Roethlisberger. Of the others, only Schaub has not been considered one of the best quarterbacks in the league for the majority of his career.

Notable quarterbacks with a lower career passer rating than Kaepernick include Cam Newton, Carson Palmer, Andrew Luck, Joe Flacco, Alex Smith, Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford. How can Colin Kaepernick be statistically superior to quarterbacks who are much more revered, when supposedly he's somehow completely lost his ability to play quarterback? Over the past year, we've seen his quarterbacking abilities called into question on a level that rivals former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow. Suddenly, the narrative has shifted to one that asserts that Colin Kaepernick is a running quarterback, who used his athleticism to have success early in his career, but faltered when asked to throw the ball. This couldn't be further from the truth.

For further comparison, Kordell Stewart's career passer rating was 56.8. Vince Young's career rating was 60.8. That's what a passer rating looks like for a quarterback who survives primarily on athleticism and running the ball. Kaepernick, despite the popular narrative that is being promoted now, is not that type of football player.

Somehow, many people forgot that throws like the one Kaepernick made in Thursday night's game to Anderson were once routine for him. During the Super Bowl loss to the Ravens, after seeing Kaepernick make throw after throw into insanely tight windows, Phil Simms stated, "Kaepernick would be an elite quarterback even if he couldn't run." Back then, this was the accepted perception of Kaepernick: a world-class athlete who could beat you equally with his arm or legs, not some one-trick pony surviving off the zone read play.

This myth that Kaepernick was suddenly unable to play the quarterback position at all really grew legs during the debacle that was the 2015 season. Kaepernick, by any measure, played terrible football: so did the rest of the team. Kaepernick's starting offensive line included Marcus Martin at center, Jordan Devey at right guard, and Eric Pears at right tackle. His offensive coaching staff included a coordinator who hadn't been a coordinator since Jim Harbaugh's final year in the NFL, and a quarterback coach who had been out of football for several years doing radio. That's not exactly a recipe for success.

However, some people say that's just an excuse. Even if you believe he should have played football at a higher level despite the retirements, media circus, personal injuries and everything else that plagued the team, it was still only one season. Rarely, if ever, are quarterbacks written off for having one really bad season. Kaepernick wasn't the only quarterback to have a really bad season last year. Luck's 74.9 passer rating was even lower than Kaepernick's 75.8. However, public opinion has not arrived at the conclusion that Luck can't play quarterback now because of one poor season.

In 2013, in his 10th year in the league, Eli Manning threw 18 touchdowns and 27 interceptions. That's a level of bad that many quarterbacks never rebound from. Kaepernick has never approached a level of play that poor. Also that year, Flacco threw more interceptions than touchdowns as well: recording 19 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. Go down the list of NFL quarterbacks, outside of the few truly elite signal callers, and you will generally find a season where they played well below their usual level of productivity. It happens.

Another popular assertion is that Kaepernick has been regressing for years now and that he's had consecutive bad years. In the 2014 season, Kaepernick passed for 3,369 yards, 19 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and a passer rating of 86.4. It's hard to fathom how anyone who follows NFL football can consider that a bad season. It's certainly not setting the world on fire, but those are efficient, above average numbers. If you do think that season is bad, then you should also believe that Flacco should not even be an NFL quarterback, because those numbers are similar to the numbers that Flacco records every year consistently.

Also consider this: Kaepernick's 2015 season was really, really bad and the worst season of his career without question, so mathematically, he must have played some really good football in those other seasons to still maintain the 10th highest active passer rating in the league, even with that terrible year figured into the calculation.

I don't say any of this to suggest that Kaepernick didn't have a really bad 2015 season. That happened. I also am not denying that there may be concerns about his ability to process information from defenses. However, to that I would offer than unless you're a coach or player consistently in the 49ers meeting rooms watching game tape, you have no way of knowing that. We're not privy to what he's supposed to be seeing vs. what he sees. All we can do is speculate based on the results.

But what we can see for ourselves is what Kaepernick does on the field. One thing is undeniable: when a receiver does get open, and Kaepernick does see him, he consistently throws the ball to that receiver with a velocity and accuracy that very few quarterbacks can. What I don't understand is why so many people suddenly act like that's not the case. For those who would dismiss everything stated above, please explain how a person who "sucks," "been figured out," and everything else used to describe Kaepernick can record an 88.4 career passer rating over four seasons on the field, which again, is 10th highest among active quarterbacks. How can his stat line read the way it does if he is simply a bad quarterback? I haven't seen anyone explain that yet.