SANTA CLARA – Colin Kaepernick and Cam Newton were roommates during the NFL scouting combine in 2011 in Indianapolis.
The two quarterbacks who will be on opposing sidelines when the 49ers (6-2) face the Carolina Panthers (5-3) on Sunday at Candlestick Park.
Kaepernick and Newton were friendly enough during the lead-up to the draft. But they have not remained in touch, Kaepernick said. During that time, everyone who played the same position were in competition with one another to impress NFL teams.
“Everything’s a competition from being at the combine to being at practice to being in a game,” Kaepernick said. “Everything is a competition.”
And 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh also found himself in the middle of a competition. His father-in-law, Merrill Feuerborn, wanted the 49ers to somehow select Newton in the draft. Meanwhile, Harbaugh’s father, Jack, was a Kaepernick supporter.
“The two fathers each championing their champion,” Harbaugh said on Wednesday.
Harbaugh’s father-in-law told him Newton “was the future of the NFL.” Even Harbaugh did not make any secret of his fascination with Newton prior to the draft, referring to him as “plutonium-grade raw material.”
The 49ers owned the No. 7 overall pick in the draft. Newton went No. 1 overall to the Panthers. The 49ers selected Aldon Smith with their first-round pick, then traded up in the second round to select Kaepernick.
Even today, Harbaugh describes Newton as “in a world by himself – he’s tremendously talented.”
Newton is the eighth-ranked passer in the NFL with a 93.1 rating. Kaepernick is 16th with a passer rating of 87.6 for the 49ers, who are 32nd in the NFL in yards passing per game.
“I think we have similar attributes,” Kaepernick said, “but I think we’re both two different players. I think we’re both just trying to do the best we can to put our team in a good situation.”
Kaepernick said he is not bothered by the 49ers' ranking of last in yards passing.
"We're winning games," Kaepernick said. "There's teams ahead of us that are obviously doing better in the passing game that aren't where we're at record-wise. So that's what we care about is wins."
Meanwhile, 49ers running back Frank Gore had no difficult picking sides in the quarterback comparison.
"I think Kap is a little better," Gore said. "He can throw better than Cam. Both run the ball well and both are big guys. But I'm not saying Cam's not a good player. Both are good players."