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[January 31, 2013]
The Modesto Bee Ron Agostini column
NEW ORLEANS, Jan 31, 2013 (The Modesto Bee - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Tuesday of Super Bowl Week, in all its sociological impact, often means the end of all media as we know it.
The questions are asked of the combatants -- gems such as "What kind of tree would you be " or "Are you ticklish " -- by salaried employees who may or may not know a first down from 10 Downing St.
And get this: Fans actually watch Media Day in person. Several thousand inspected the proceedings at the Superdome. Were they there to cozy up to their heroes or just observe the media hordes bumping into each other for comedy's sake When did Q and A become a spectator sport There was one legitimate conclusion to be reached, at least one with more weight than a bowl of jambalaya: Colin Kaepernick held his serve.
We shouldn't have been surprised.
Kaepernick, the pride and joy of Turlock and the San Francisco 49ers, prefers his answers brief and to the point. It's refreshing if not exactly Peyton Manning-ish. Many quarterbacks in the NFL sound like CEOs briefing vice presidents in the board room.
Kaepernick sounds human. He's a bachelor, a proud owner of a 115-pound tortoise named Sammy and today he's the NFL's Chosen One. Right now, it's good to be Kap.
He needed about 15 or 20 minutes Tuesday morning to feel the beat of this 60-minute exercise on the podium. But after a while, he rolled with the silliness of it all while he wore a straight-billed cap pulled low over his ears.
One bloke, a VH1 guy dressed as a referee -- you were forewarned -- quizzed, "If I say, 'San Francisco Treat,' you say ..." It stopped Kaepernick for a second. Those TV ads swarmed the airwaves long before his generation even arrived in this world. Still, he smiled at the questioner and played along.
"Rice-a-Roni " Correct, Kap.
Lighthearted queries aside, there is some serious substance emerging about the man. He's wise far beyond his nine career starts at quarterback. Better still, his words fly in the face of ignoramuses who mistook the tattoos as a nod to the thug culture.
He's often said his favorite tattoo is the one inside his bicep that reads, "My gift is my curse." "I can make a lot of great things being an NFL quarterback and a lot of great perks," Kaepernick interpreted. "At the same time, there are a lot of things you can't do as an NFL quarterback that you could do if you were just walking around and had a regular job." Voiced like someone who's thought it over.
The skin ink was a popular topic this day, of course, and Kaepernick said there is more to come.
"Dad said, 'You're not going to have any tattoos while you're under this roof. Once you're 18 and out of the house, you can do what you want,' " the son remembered. "If the endorsements come in, then that's great. If not, well, then that's what it is. I love my tattoos regardless." Kaepernick is nothing if not driven. He's noticed the planet changing around him. Celebrities of all ilk often wonder about this transformation. Their fame always changes people's approach to them, but the strongest wade through with little or no after-effects.
The mature-for-his-years quarterback falls into that category, at least through one Super Bowl.
"Just because you're in a situation you haven't been in before doesn't mean you have to feel pressure from it," Kaepernick said. "It (the response to pressure) is not thinking on Sunday. It's going out and playing." In case you still wondered why coach Jim Harbaugh inserted Kaepernick at QB over Alex Smith, you've stumbled upon an answer. On the field, the alumnus of Pitman High reacts like a pure athlete. If Plan A fails, he opts for Plan B in an eye blink, which separates himself from many peers. His hand-eye coordination, produced by all those hard-firing fast-twitch muscles, have escorted him into the NFL elite.
Game time is not about validating your homework. It's about reacting to what you see, based on preparation. Kaepernick's warp-speed ascent underscores his correct plan.
Nearly two years ago, he roomed with Cam Newton during the NFL Combine. Newton, the player who guided Auburn University to an NCAA title just months before, broke into the league as a can't-miss No. 1 pick by the Carolina Panthers.
He was the star, Kaepernick the second-round understudy.
"At that point, I was just trying to do everything I could to have an NFL team look at me," Kaepernick admitted.
Who would fans take now Bee staff writer Ron Agostini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2302. Follow Ron on Twitter at @modbeesports.
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