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Lowell Cohn: Early in career, Colin Kaepernick on par with legends

  • Colin Kaepernick scrambles out of the pocket on in the 1st quarter on Sunday. The San Francisco 49ers beat the Green Bay Packers, 34-28, in the season opener at Candlestick Park on Sunday, September 8, 2013, (John Burgess/The Press Democrat) (John Burgess)

SANTA CLARA -- It's an off-day for 49ers football. The Green Bay game recedes in the rearview mirror. The Seattle game looms in the distance. And that means it's time for a midweek thought question:

Is Colin Kaepernick more advanced than Joe Montana and Steve Young at a similar stage of their careers?

We are not asking if Kaepernick is better or will be better or is nicer. We are asking where they stand — and stood — at this stage, Season Three.

San Francisco 49ers vs. Green Bay Packers


Got that?

For starters, let's consult 49ers' coach Jim Harbaugh who considered the question in a hallway at 49ers' headquarters after his Monday news conference.

“Even to ask the question or suppose the question is a great compliment to Colin,” he said. “I would imagine that, in his interest, he would want to leave it there. I'm flattered that the question is even supposed. Those are two great players, two Hall of Fame players. It's a bit (much) to put him on the same dance floor as those people right now and start making comparisons. He's doing just fine. That's quite a compliment that you would even ask the question and, I guess, for Colin's sake, we'll just leave it at that.”

It was a fair answer. Harbaugh refused to encroach on two cornerstones of 49ers' history and he refused to put pressure on his own guy. We appreciate his diplomacy and tact. We'll try to answer the question on our own just because the question is out there, dangling, delicious and enticing.

Colin Kaepernick is ahead of Steve Young in his third year as an NFL quarterback. One assumes Young would agree wholeheartedly. And remember no one is comparing the entire careers of Young and Kaepernick. Kaepernick has not had an entire career. Young was a league MVP and Kaepernick is not, although he could get there.

It's just that Young was a running quarterback when he graduated from BYU. He was a runner more than a thrower, quarterback as halfback. He started at the L.A. Express of the USFL where he met the legendary Sid Gillman. Bill Walsh once said of Gillman's offensive philosophy, “Sid was Star Wars compared to everyone else.”

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