NEW ORLEANS -- — Two years ago, on a blustery winter day in frigid Mobile, Ala., marked the first time I watched quarterback Colin Kaepernick deliver a spiral.
It was accurate with plenty of velocity. Kaepernick had sharp mechanics.
It was the Senior Bowl practice field, and Kaepernick was opening some eyes with his impressive skill set.
At 6 feet 4, 230 pounds, nearly as fast as a wide receiver and as strong-armed as anyone, Kaepernick made a huge impression on the NFL scouts and reporters.
Orchestrating the innovative Pistol offense at Nevada, Kaepernick had the statistics and the resume.
What people wondered, though, was how his unique game would translate into the NFL and how high he would climb on draft boards.
I came away impressed with his attitude and personality after meeting him and his family after being introduced by his agent, Scott Smith, who has also represented past Ravens like safety Jim Leonhard, long snapper Matt Katula and safety Gerome Sapp.
I wasn't skeptical about Kaepernick, but I'd be lying if I told you I knew he would be this good. My conclusion: He's a diamond in the rough who could really be something with the proper coaching.
Smith kept saying: 'Aaron, this kid is the real deal. I'm telling you he's going to be great.'
At first, I thought: "Well, this is typical salesman/agent speak.'
In the next few months, though, NFL scouts kept saying that Kaepernick was a legit prospect and deserved consideration in the first few rounds.
I wound up interviewing Kaepernick a handful of times on the phone following the Senior Bowl, always coming away with a feeling that this was a smart, classy young man.
The 49ers wound up picking him in the second round, and it's been a great move.
He had an apprenticehip behind Alex Smith and took over for good after Smith got hurt.
It was regarded as a bold move at the time to stick with Kaepernick as the starter, considering that Smith was winning and having a good season.
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However, Kaepernick has taken the 49ers' offense to a new level -- a Super Bowl level.
His dual-threat game is changing the game, and NFL teams will be searching for the next Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III.
The Pistol offense and Kaepernick aren't a passing fad. I think fast-break football is here to stay.
Tonight in the Super Bowl, how the Ravens deal with Kaepernick will be pivotal to the outcome of the game.
They've got to hope that they're catching him at the right time, early in his career before he gains more knowledge about the game.