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Colin Kaepernick Growing into Face of the San Francisco 49ers Franchise

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COMMENTARY | "He could get a lot better."

Sharing his thoughts on Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore has no doubt that his quarterback can improve. Having started only 10 games entering his third NFL season, Kaepernick is already establishing himself as the face of the proud 49ers franchise.

With the likes of Gore, Vernon Davis and Patrick Willis cementing themselves as premier players throughout the years, it just goes to show how far Kaepernick has come in such a short time. His play on the field and work ethic off it has earned him the respect of his veteran teammates.

Considering that Kaepernick set the world on fire in the second half of the 2012 season, it's scary to see what he could become if he does perfect his craft. Kaepernick put on display his athletic abilities and precision passing the moment he received his first career start in Week 11 under the bright Monday night lights.

Playing in front of a national audience in prime time, the young quarterback was not fazed by the big stage. In a 32-7 win over the Chicago Bears, Kaepernick produced 243 passing yards and two touchdowns while posting a 133.1 passer rating. To top it off, he performed well against one of the league's best defenses. That contest symbolizes his poise and demeanor to come up big when his team needs him.

Despite coming up short in the Super Bowl, Kaepernick still put on a show during the postseason. He ran for 181 yards (a single-game playoff record for a quarterback) while scoring two rushing touchdowns in the NFC divisional-round matchup against the Green Bay Packers, led a comeback against the Atlanta Falcons, and nearly overcame a 22-point deficit in the Super Bowl.

Those performances combined with the bitter Super Bowl loss should only fuel him for the 2013 campaign.

Looking ahead, Kaepernick must be prepared for teams adjusting to his strengths. How will he fare once opponents get another crack at him? That is the next hurdle that the 25-year-old passer must overcome in to order place his name in the class of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers.

Elite quarterbacks always take on the label as being the "face of the franchise," and Kaepernick is no exception. In fact, not only is he one of San Francisco's marquee players, but he is also reshaping the landscape of the NFL with his unique dual-threat ability. Kaepernick possesses the speed of a wide receiver, yet he can still beat defenses with his strong arm.

In the 10 games that Kaepernick started, the 49ers offense averaged just over 390 yards while scoring 28.8 points per game. Those numbers are impressive for any offense, let alone an inexperienced second-round draft pick learning on the fly.

The moment he took over for Alex Smith, the coaching staff saw the potential and upside that the Nevada product offered. Smith excelled under head coach Jim Harbaugh and could not have played much better, but Kaepernick has the makings of becoming a special player for the next decade.

Opposing defenses better look out.

Travis Chan is a lifelong follower of the San Francisco 49ers. He is currently covering the team on the Yahoo! Contributor Network.

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