NFC West: ESPY awards

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's offseason in the spotlight continued Wednesday night when he prevailed over NFC West rival Russell Wilson and three others for the "Best Breakthrough Athlete" award at the ESPYs.

[+] EnlargeColin Kaepernick
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images for ESPYSColin Kaepernick won Best Breakthrough Athlete.
"Breakout" might be a better word to describe what Kaepernick did during the 2012 season. He went from afterthought to breakout player, and no one could have seen it coming. The concussion Alex Smith suffered against St. Louis cleared the way for Kaepernick to start against Chicago, and when Kaepernick shined against the Bears, coach Jim Harbaugh left him in the lineup for good.

Kaepernick played a leading role in the 49ers reaching the Super Bowl. He's been all over the place this offseason, including in the nude as part of the "Body Issue" published by ESPN The Magazine. He's stirred passions by wearing a Miami Dolphins hat in public and shooting down those who would question him. Now, with an ESPY on his résumé, Kaepernick is in the spotlight again.

Or did he ever leave?

Kaepernick vs. Wilson for an ESPY

July, 15, 2013
NFC West rivals Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson are among five candidates for an ESPY Award in the "Best Breakthrough Athlete" category.

Voting closes Wednesday for those interested in participating.

Having both quarterbacks on the five-person ballot seems fitting given how the San Francisco 49ers-Seattle Seahawks rivalry has come into focus nationally this offseason. Two questions tend to come up most frequently during NFC West conversation at that level. 49ers or Seahawks? And, Kaepernick or Wilson? The questions are related, of course. Both players will play leading roles in their franchises' fortunes in 2013 and for the long term.

Note, too, that ESPN is collecting "Kaepernicking" photos from fans and posting them here. Tweet them to @ESPYS using the #Kaepernicking hashtag. Some contributors will receive autographed items.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald and the Cardinals edged the Steelers in ESPY award balloting among NFL types. The breakdown:

Warner's success has extended to the publishing world, where "First Things First" will rank 10th on the July 26 list of New York Times bestsellers for hardcover nonfiction.

Fitzgerald missed the awards presentation. He thanked fans for their votes and explained his absence by saying he couldn't afford to miss a workout.

Note: The ESPY awards show is scheduled for 9 p.m. ET Sunday on ESPN.