SANTA CLARA — Colin Kaepernick's every move is scrutinized now that he has reached rock-star status as a third-year quarterback with the NFL's top-selling jersey.
He showed up for Day 1 of training camp Thursday sporting a black beanie hat and large red headphones hanging from his neck, insisting he is unaffected by it all.
The hype isn't going away anytime soon.
“There's just more opportunities to do things. For the most part for me, I'm worried about playing football,” Kaepernick said ahead of the team's first full-squad practice. “I'm worried about making sure I'm ready to go on the field and perform.”
Once on the field, he performed squats between snaps and chatted up running back Frank Gore. On one third-and-10, Kaepernick connected with A.J. Jenkins, who caught the ball over his shoulder along the left sideline and stayed inbounds for about a 12-yard gain — general manager Trent Baalke on the sidelines watching.
In six short months since losing in the waning moments of the Super Bowl, Kaepernick has, among other things, appeared unclothed on the cover of ESPN The Magazine's “The Body Issue.” And Kaep caused quite a stir by wearing a Miami cap. He fully expects plenty of grief from teammates as he begins his first training camp as the guy under center.
“I haven't had anything real bad yet, so I feel like they're plotting on me right now,” Kaepernick said with a smile.
The 25-year-old Kaepernick has been fueled by coming so close to the franchise's sixth Super Bowl championship in February, a 34-31 loss to Baltimore.
The Niners missed three chances from the 5-yard line, yet Kaepernick is quick to point to a mistake-filled first half.
Coach Jim Harbaugh's forward-focused message has been clear: “If you're still talking about what you did yesterday, you haven't done much today.”
Kaepernick is determined to be that much better in his first full season as starter for the two-time NFC West champions, who expect a big challenge in the division from Seattle and St. Louis.