Colin Kaepernick responds to Trent Dilfer's criticism

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The third-year quarterback fired back at ESPN's Trent Dilfer criticizing his development.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick doesn't appreciate criticism leveled at him following his team's loss to the Carolina Panthers. The third-year quarterback responded to ESPN's Trent Dilfer, who called him a "remedial" passer that struggles when teams take away his first read.

Dilfer's core criticism stemmed from a perceived lack of development, which he elaborated to Sports Illustrated on Tuesday.

Reached Tuesday, Dilfer said while Kaepernick remains "an incredible player and an incredible athlete,'' his development as a passer has "plateaued'' this season, and he hasn't made enough progress in his second season as a starter.

It was unclear whether Kaepernick would defend himself against the claim, but the wait wasn't long. He dismissed Dilfer's critique on Wednesday, as reported by Eric Branch. On Wednesday, Kaepernick dismissed Dilfer's critique because he isn't in the building. He also acknowledged that he hadn't heard what was said about his development.

"I didn't hear what he had to say, but he's not in the building with us," Kaepernick said. "So what he's saying really doesn't affect me at all. I'm worried about what this team thinks and what I'm doing in here with my teammates."

Kaepernick also suggested media ask "if he (Dilfer) knows my progression first." Regardless of discussions about how many reads he has or whether he is progressing, there's no denying Kaepernick has regressed statistically in 2013.

It isn't just Trent Dilfer raising questions about the development of the third year quarterback. FOX's Brian Billick shared similar sentiments with Eric Branch, but said the 49ers are still lucky to have him.

"Is he a completed entity right now? No," Billick said. "Is there development left to be done? Yes. Did we get ahead of ourselves because of his success and run to the Super Bowl? Possibly. But, I'll tell you what, there's a whole of teams that would love to have the dilemma of developing Colin Kaepernick right now."

Kaepernick started seven games in 2012, throwing for a total of 1,608 yards, 10 touchdowns and three interceptions. In nine games this season, he has thrown for less yards, touchdowns, completing less passes, all while throwing twice as many interceptions.

The San Francisco 49ers shouldn't be phased by the criticism. They hold a Wild Card spot now and still have a chance to pressure the Seattle Seahawks at the top of the NFC West. This latest round of criticism and response speaks to a larger issue of the endless cycle of building up and breaking down young players. It wasn't long ago that Dilfer's co-worker Ron Jaworski believed Kaepernick "could be one of the greatest quarterback ever," which still could be true -- but perhaps it's time for evaluation before exaggeration, on both sides.

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