SAN FRANCISCO –- It is uncertain where quarterback Colin Kaepernick will play next season, but his former coach is sure that he will be productive wherever he ends up.
“He’ll flourish,” former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said Friday morning during an appearance at Moscone Center leading up to Super Bowl 50. “He’s a great talent and one of the ultimate competitors, so he’ll flourish.”
Harbaugh was responsible for trading up in the second round to select Kaepernick in the 2011 draft. Then, Harbaugh made the bold move in the middle of the 2012 season to bench starter Alex Smith in favor of Kaepernick.
Kaepernick started the final eight games of the season and posted career-highs in completion percentage (62.4 percent) and passer rating (98.3). He rushed for a 181 yards in a playoff victory over the Green Bay Packers, and threw for 302 yards in the Super Bowl XLVII loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
But Kaepernick never improved statistically from his first season. And with Harbaugh in Michigan last season, Kaepernick struggled and was benched after eight games. Now, his future with the 49ers is in question.
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Clearly, Harbaugh holds Kaepernick in high regard.
“Love him,” Harbaugh said. “Love him.”
While Harbaugh was thriving in his first season at Michigan, the 49ers were one of the worst teams in the league. The 49ers were 5-11 under coach Jim Tomsula and were outscored by 149 points, second-worst in the league only to the Cleveland Browns.
Harbaugh said he focused on his own job at Michigan and did not pay much attention to the disastrous season with the 49ers that led to Tomsula’s firing after just one season.
“It was just on to our business,” Harbaugh said. “I wasn’t looking through the keyhole or under the doorjamb. I was concentrating on what we were doing in Ann Arbor.”
Harbaugh said he still follows the NFL, with his brother’s Baltimore Ravens receiving most of his attention.
“I watch the Ravens play every week,” Harbaugh said. “I follow my brother John. I got to a ballgame that they played in, so it’s not like the NFL has gone anywhere. It’s still there and I still get to enjoy it, and coaching guys to get there.
“There’s a tremendous amount of satisfaction to see our guys right now, and I think we’ll have 10 or 11 Michigan Wolverines that will have their shot to have at it in the National Football League, so that’s what I do: Try to coach them up to get there.”