Who’s that galloping thoroughbred who raced by Green Bay’s elite defensive players for a 56-yard touchdown? Colin Kaepernick came out of nowhere to capture the attention of America this season. At 25, he’s just in his second year in the NFL, has only started in ten games. He took his team to the Super Bowl in New Orleans on 2-3-13 and almost engineering the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. But even with the temporary setback, the York and DeBartolo families are already dreaming of their second 49ers dynasty.
But we shouldn’t be so surprised. As a nine-year-old fourth grader in Turlock, California, Colin wrote a letter to himself foretelling his future with the 49ers.
So what’s in store for the rest of his life? We know he likes to envision his future. Here’s how this writer imagines Colin’s life—past, present, and future—as Colin might see it playing out:
Life Title: BREAKING ALL THE RULES: LEADING FROM BEHIND
First 18 Years – Ages 1-18 (1987-2005) – Loving All Sports
I was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and am proud of my ethnic diversity. Mom and Dad, Teresa and Rick Kaepernick adopted me when I was young. I only lived in Wisconsin until I was four years old before my family moved to the Sacramento area in California. Growing up, I played as many sports as I could, but especially liked baseball and football. At nine, I became the quarterback of my team. My first throw was a long bomb for a touchdown. I was hooked. In high school, I maintained a 4.0 GPA even though I played on most of the varsity teams. At 6 foot, 4 inches tall and 170 pounds, I was a string bean. I became a pretty good pitcher, and could throw a 92 mph fastball. Although I wanted to play college football, I mostly attracted baseball scholarships. The Chicago Cubs even wanted to hire me straight out of high school. The football scouts thought I was too lanky and wouldn’t survive all the hits. The University of Nevada was the only school to offer me a football scholarship, so I jumped at the chance. Some people thought I was crazy to give up a sure thing in baseball for a dream in football, but I knew in my heart that this was my future. Mom and Dad supported my decision.
Next 6 Years – Ages 19-24 (2006-2011) – College and Drafted into the NFL
At the University of Nevada Reno, I majored in business management. I liked my business classes, but my passion was football. I became the starting quarterback for the Wolf Packs midway through my freshman year and held the position until I graduated. I helped the Wolf Packs get to four bowl games during my collegiate years. My biggest achievement was in reaching 10,000 passing yard and 4,000 rushing yards during my college career, which was a quarterback record for Division 1 colleges.
In the 2011 NFL draft, I was the sixth quarterback chosen; I’m glad that Coach Harbaugh saw something in me that others didn’t. He had seen me scramble and knew I had a rocket arm. I had always dreamed of playing for the 49ers. I ran the 40 yard dash in 4.53 seconds during the NFL tryouts, so he knew I could run faster than most other quarterbacks. Coach Harbaugh was a former NFL quarterback himself and had just come to the 49ers from Stanford, where he had coached Andrew Luck to winnings seasons. I was in heaven, but I still had a lot to learn. During the players strike in 2011, the 49ers starting quarterback Alex Smith organized his own training camp to get us ready, and he helped me learn the ropes. During the 2011 season and the beginning of the 2012 season, I came in now and again to use my scrambling ability to keep the defense of our competitors on their toes. But I didn’t think that my time would come so soon.
Next 12 Years – Ages 25-37 (2012-2024) – The 49ers Rise Again
After winning six of nine games in the fall of 2012, Alex suffered a concussion and had to leave the game. We tied that game and then won five of the next seven games to reach the playoffs. Even though Alex got better within a couple games of his concussion, Coach Harbaugh made me the starter. He probably figured my scrambling and strong arm would increase our chances of going all the way. We then beat the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta in route to the Super Bowl in New Orleans. My big breakout game came against the Green Bay Packers, when I ran for 181 yards, more than any other quarterback in history in a single game. Once I started getting popular, some people criticized me for my tattoos, but they just didn’t understand. That’s my Christian faith written in my tattoos, and they keep me strong. In the Super Bowl, we faced the Baltimore Ravens, coached by Coach Harbaugh’s older brother John Harbaugh. It was a close game that we almost won, but the 34-31 loss made us stronger for the Super Bowl games ahead of us.
(…and now the future part of his life map, as this writer imagines Colin creating it.) My first Super Bowl win in 2014 marks the beginning of phase 2 of the 49ers dynasty. Under Joe Montana and Steve Young, the 49ers had won five Super Bowls during the 1980s and 1990s, but it had been a long dry spell since 1994. After our big win in February 2014, we win six more Super Bowl championships over the next twelve years. My combination of fast running and baseball-pitcher arm helps reshape the NFL quarterback position over the next decade. I stay with the 49ers during my entire professional career and retire when I am 37 years old.
Next 50 Years – Ages 37-60 (2025-2048) – Robotic Football League, RFL
After my professional football career ends, I have many offers to coach NFL or college teams to become a sportscaster, but I intend to use the business skills I learned in college instead. The 49ers move from Candlestick in San Francisco to Santa Clara during my fourth year with the team, so I become pretty familiar with Silicon Valley high-tech companies during the next decade. I become obsessed with the huge strides being made with robotics companies, and invest in a few of them during my NFL days. At 37, I decide to found my own company, Kap Robotics, with a focus on building life-size robots that play a spectator form of football on a full-sized field controlled by 22 offensive and defensive players with advanced joysticks and their coaches on dashboards along the sidelines. The players in our games are nerdier than the guys I played with the NFL, but no less committed. Kap Robotics wins multiple patents in using our robots in key football positions. At first, the NFL is threatened by my company, but I win over a newer breed of owners in 30 major cities around the United States and we created our Robotic Football League (RFL). In the end, both the NFL and RLF flourish.
In the early years, our robots are a bit clunky, but over time, they became very sophisticated. Our robot quarterback can throw 80-yard long bombs with pinpoint accuracy, and our wide receiver robots catch them with ease, but the defender robots are equally good. The sport is pretty violent, but unlike the professional league I had played in, only the machines got hurt, not the people. No more concussions and crippling career-ending injuries. By 2035, after ten years of perfecting our robots and building up the league, the American public started to really warm up to the sport. We even put some inspirational tattoos on some of the robots. Over the next thirteen years, we produced most of the robots for the RFL and developed similar athlete robots for budding automated leagues in other sports such as soccer, baseball, basketball, and hockey. I was lucky enough to attract some of the brightest engineers in the world to RFL. I learned leadership skills from my parents, and high school and college coaches, but Coach Harbaugh took takes to a new level. He practices servant leadership and unbelievable passion, where everything he does serves and inspires his team. I try to practice that same kind of humble and passionate leadership at RFL, and the engineers love it.
Next 40 Years – Ages 61-110 (2049-2097) – Exoskeleton Robots Serve the World
I become a billionaire many times over as the biggest shareholder of Kap Robotics, but when I turn 60, I decide to devote the rest of my life to using robots to help people recover from injuries or diseases. In 2049, I found CK Robotics to focus on exoskeletons, robotic extensions of arms and legs that can help quadriplegics walk again and war veterans replace loss limbs. We establish both for-profit and non-profit organizations to serve as many people around the world as possible. This becomes my life work up until the end of my life. Over the next fifty years, our firm helps millions of people walk again and regain mobility from lost or non-functioning limbs. Embedded chips in the brain allow our clients to control our robots with their thoughts. Many of my colleagues from my previous company join me at CK Robotics. My proudest achievement is putting the traditional wheelchair out of business. Now even quadriplegics stand six feet tall and see eye to eye with the rest of us. Based on knee and hip injuries I received during my NFL playing days, I wear my own lightweight exoskeleton these days. I just celebrated my 105th birthday on November 3, 2092, and still feel great!
We’ve just seen a glimpse of Kap’s amazing life adventure. He has proven that it’s never too early to start mapping your future. Colin envisioned it at 9 years old, and as opportunities arose, made the choices that fulfilled his dream. He is at the 20 yard line now, and still has 80 yards to go in his own life journey. Based on what we’ve seen so far, he’ll be galloping through holes and throwing pin-point bullets all the way.
Co-author of My Life Map: A Journal to Help You Shape Your Future, Gotham Books/Penguin, November 2012