Colin Kaepernick, who last month said he was compiling a list of quarterback experts with whom to work this offseason, has settled on a spot.
The 49ers’ quarterback will train at EXOS in the Phoenix area, where he will study with former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner and quarterbacks coach Dennis Gile, who played in the NFL, Canadian Football League and, until 21/2 years ago, the Arena League. EXOS, formerly API (Athletes Performance Institute), is where numerous college players prepare for the draft.
Warner, 43, is a two-time league MVP, four-time Pro Bowl selection and MVP of the 2000 Super Bowl with St. Louis. He retired after the 2009 season. Warner will be on hand a few days each week to work with Kaepernick on film study, charting plays (so-called “board work”), seven-on-seven drills and other mental aspects of the game.
Gile is a former quarterback at Division II Central Missouri State, where in 2002 he set a passing efficiency record with a rating of 214.0. He’s worked with elite high school prospects as well as college and professional quarterbacks, including Tim Tebow and Christian Ponder.
Gile said he and Warner wouldn’t try to “fix” Kaepernick. Instead, they want to share their knowledge of the craft. Gile said the focus will be on consistency and efficiency.
“If we can teach him that, then I think he becomes one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the NFL,” Gile said. “Because you can’t teach the natural talents that he has.”
Kaepernick will arrive in Phoenix next week, and the plan is for him to train there until the start of the 49ers’ offseason program in April.
Several NFL wide receivers, including the New York Giants’ Odell Beckham and Miami’s Jarvis Landry, are expected to train at EXOS this offseason. So will a number of Kaepernick’s teammates, including receivers Quinton Patton and Bruce Ellington and fullback Bruce Miller.
Two of the college players already working out there are Arizona State receiver Jaelen Strong and West Virginia receiver Kevin White. Both presumably will catch passes from Kaepernick in seven-on-seven situations. They also could be on the 49ers’ draft radar at pick No. 15.
Kaepernick has said he has tweaked aspects of his game in previous offseasons – “little bit here, little bit there” – and, of course, he worked daily with a former NFL quarterback in Jim Harbaugh when he was the 49ers’ coach, as well as with quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst.
Still, Kaepernick said it was hard to make significant changes during the season.
“You still watch mechanics, what you can do better, but it’s more of a week-to-week basis,” he said. “It’s hard to break habits in season. You don’t want to completely try to change something because it can throw off everything else you’re doing.”
Kaepernick’s third season as the team’s starter was his roughest. His completion percentage, which was 70.2 after the first three games, fell to 60.5 by the end. His 86.4 passer rating in 2014 was his lowest since he became a starter.
There were mitigating circumstances. Kaepernick was sacked 52 times, more than any other quarterback in the franchise’s history. Only Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles (55) was sacked more this past season. San Francisco also finished the season with 34 dropped passes, according to Pro Football Focus. Receivers Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin had 10 drops each, and tight end Vernon Davis had six.
Working with quarterback experts in the offseason is a departure for Kaepernick. He’s trained alongside a few close teammates in Atlanta and Miami in previous offseasons but never at such a structured establishment as EXOS.
Gile said one area he will try to focus on is Kaepernick’s upper body.
“If I could get him to be a little more relaxed at times, I think that would help him,” he said.
Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.