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Monday, December 10, 2012
Kaepernick stands tall through four starts

By Mike Sando

We've been discussing in one of the comments sections where Colin Kaepernick's first four NFL starts rank relative to how other quarterbacks have performed early.

Ras19059 noted that Kaeprenick owns the NFL's highest fourth-quarter Total QBR figure (99.2 out of 100) since making his first start in Week 11. He then asked where Seattle's Russell Wilson ranked in QBR after four games, not just for fourth quarters but overall.

The conversation led me to produce a chart ranking quarterbacks over the past five seasons by QBR scores through their first four career starts. Kaepernick leads the way at 80.0. The chart favors passing stats, but rushing stats also come into play. Kaepernick has two 50-yard runs during his four starts, both in critical situations.

Wilson, though ranking third behind Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in QBR from Week 5 to present, stood only 31st with a 30.3 QBR after four starts.

Expectations tend to influence how we evaluate players. Wilson was a rookie third-round choice. Kaepernick was taking over for Alex Smith, who had gone 19-5-1 as a starter over two seasons. The 49ers had traded up in the second round to draft Kaepernick. Naming him the starter over Smith made sense only if the 49ers thought Kaepernick could enhance their championship chances right away. He had to play well immediately.

I'll have more on Kaepernick and the other NFC West quarterbacks in our weekly "QBR ranks" item later Monday.