The San Francisco 49ers will be a sending out a 25-year-old quarterback in his first season as a starter to lead their team on the biggest stage in all of football this Sunday. Despite all the hype surrounding the 2013 Super Bowl and what's at stake on Feb. 3, Colin Kaepernick doesn't seemed to be fazed. He sees this as just another game.
Kaerpernick spoke to the media after the 49ers landed in New Orleans, and he seemed calm as ever about the task that lies ahead. Facing the Baltimore Ravens will be quite a challenge, with millions of people around the world watching. However, he made it clear that Sunday's match-up isn't about pressure. It's about performance.
"I've said this before. Pressure, I feel like, comes from lack of preparation," said Kaerpnick. "This isn't going to be a pressure situation, it is going to be a matter of going out there and performing physically."
The pressure of the NFL playoffs that everyone talks about hasn't rattled him in two outings so far. After tearing apart the Packers defense with 181 rushing yards, Kaepernick helped spark a second half comeback against the Falcons in the NFC Championship. He might not have expected to be in this situation when the season started, but it's his time to shine now.
"At the start of the season, I was just hoping to get on the field some way, somehow," he said when asked if he pictured himself starting in the Super Bowl earlier this year. Even when he was taking a backseat to Alex Smith, Kaepernick always kept his head up. "That is just being focused on what you are trying to achieve. My dad was always in my ear, saying ‘Stay focused, and keep working hard.' That is what I try to do."
Jumping into a starting role mid-season can't be easy, but having a coach who is a former NFL quarterback certainly helps the process. "It is very beneficial," Kaepernick said about playing under head coach Jim Harbaugh. "He knows what you are looking at, and he knows what you are going through. It makes it easier for him to relate."
Harbaugh has fostered a tight-knit group in San Francisco. Most people portray him as a player's coach. Kaepernick noted how close the 49ers are, which continues to help them fuel each other to new heights. "It is really like a family. We are around each other more than we are around anybody else. The time we spend together, and the hard work we put in together, it is going to build a close team," said Kaepernick.
He's only in his second pro season, but Kaerpernick is ready for Sunday. He has been watching the 49ers win in the playoffs ever since he was a kid. Now he's the one everyone is watching.
"My biggest memory of the 49ers was when they beat the Packers in the playoffs (in 1999) with T.O. (Terrell Owens) down the middle," he said. Owens won't be out there to help him this weekend, but Michael Crabtree and Randy Moss provide plenty of relief. We'll see what they can do at the Superdome.
The Niners are looking for their sixth championship. Kaepernick knows the expectations for success around his franchise, and he continues to meet them every time he steps on the field. Come Sunday, he'll be ready for the biggest test of his career.