NEW ORLEANS — Although he tried his best not to be, Colin Kaepernick is back to being human, and playing that way — complete with the natural mixture of heroics and miscues you'd expect from a quarterback with just nine career starts.
While Kaepernick entered Super Bowl XLVII with few blemishes on his postseason passer rating, the latest young NFL superstar exited the Mercedes-Benz Superdome after a mostly forgettable first half and an amazing second half, where he was a 5-yard touchdown pass away from joining Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Steve Young as 49ers quarterbacks to bring a world championship to the franchise.
During the 34-31 loss Sunday night, Kaepernick failed to pick apart the Ravens early, then in the second half, found a way to mimic the young guy whose scrambles and surprising accuracy dominated lesser defenses during the regular season and a playoff run to New Orleans. On Sunday, he threw his first interception of this postseason to Ravens safety Ed Reed, which speaks as much to his former success as it does to his lack of it early in the game.
In the second half, Kaepernick completed 8 of 15 passes for 139 yards, and even more importantly, ran for 46 yards — scrambles that stretched the Ravens defense, turning the early one-sided game into a thrilling finish.
Kaepernick's performance ended a season in which 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh believed in his abilities enough to transform him from Alex Smith's backup to San Francisco's best option at quarterback.
Still, Kaepernick, only the fourth quarterback to start in a Super Bowl the same season as his first start, must wait another year for another shot at a championship.