The San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick has had a heaven/hellish career, and now he’s back on earth with a major decision to choose his path. Kaepernick came into the league blazing, after one year backing up former 49ers QB Alex Smith. Kaepernick in his second season, took the reins mid-year and carried the 49ers to the Super Bowl, where they ultimately came up short. To truly understand the rise and fall of Kaepernick, we must look at everything that occurred from the day he stepped in until the day he lost his starting job.

The 49ers scrapped almost everything in their offense back in 2012 and mostly went with a spread pistol offense when Kaepernick took over as the starting QB. The 49ers went that direction because of Kaepernick’s familiarity with spread pistol. He ran that offense to perfection at the University of Nevada where he set numerous of records on the ground and in the air. The NFL was not prepared for it and it took the league by storm. The 49ers’ offense was explosive, dangerous and scary. They weren’t just the power offense that will take short conservative passes. No, they were a offense that was not afraid to air it out.

Kaepernick thrived in the offense and it eventually put him into the spotlight and the permanent starting quarterback going forward for the San Francisco 49ers. The following season in 2013 the 49ers went away from that offense, they were back to smash mouth football and occasionally running a zone (read: attack). Kaepernick struggled in the beginning of the year with horrible performances against the Seahawks, Colts and Panthers. One reason the 49ers went away from the pistol offense was because of the Robert Griffin III injury. Coach Harbaugh & Greg Roman was very cautious in running their QB do to the fact they needed him healthy for the playoffs. Kaepernick’s game was back on track as the 49ers went to the NFC champions, where they fell short of reaching back to back Super Bowl appearances. It was clear though, Kaepernick had shown some early signs of regression.

The coaches did not do Kaepernick a favor by limiting his most lethal weapon, his legs. In both 2013 and 2014, Kaepernick wasn’t the running threat he was in the 49ers Super Bowl run. Watching the 49ers in the 2013 playoffs, it was very clear Kaepernick was instructed to run less in the regular season. It was reported he had a foot injury which stopped him from running a lot, But in 2014 nothing changed. Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers were the team of inconsistency. Ultimately it was Kaepernick’s play that was scrutinized the most— and rightfully so. The 49ers could not make their fourth consecutive playoffs appearance mostly do to the inconsistent play of Kaepernick. He looked lost at times, like he was afraid to run and teammates looked frustrated with him. It was all going downhill. The 49ers explosive offense was now just a afterthought, they weren’t nothing special. The 49ers explosive offense was now just a afterthought, they weren’t nothing special. Everyone including Kaepernick lost confidence in him.

In 2015, the Kaepernick of 2012 was a ghost, long gone. He only lasted eight games before he was benched in favor of Blaine Gabbert. Kaepernick was not at total fault for a team that had no fighting chance this past season, but he did not play well. The fall of Kaepernick was complete & he ended his season on injured reserved. The 49ers & Kaepernick were nearing a break up when the quarterback requested to be traded, feeling like the organization left him out to dry. Then Chip Kelly steps in, the perfect coach for him. Chip now has his perfect quarterback that he’s been coveting since he stepped in the NFL. Chip Kelly does not run a spread pistol offense but he does run a spread offense that requires all of Kaepernick’s abilities. This was a match made in heaven and now it’s up to Kaepernick to choose his path.

Kaepernick has all the abilities in the world but he has to put it all together. He is known as gym rat but now he needs to be known as a film rat. Kaepernick needs thick skin like the previous 49er quarterback Alex Smith, who endured a lot more hell than Kaepernick did. Alex Smith was a leader, tough, hard worker in the film room & inside the gym. Alex Smith is a top 100 player in this league & is well respected by many, this can be Kaepernick as well. He can’t focus on what the haters are saying; he must take the Alex Smith approach, he has to put his head down and push past all the negativity. Kaepernick can rise again, it’s his choice.