Colin Kaepernick was an arm's length from a return trip to Super Bowl. That arm was the left arm of Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. Using it, Sherman managed to tip away the final pass that Kaepernick threw in the NFC Championship Game to seal the Seahawks' 23-17 win. Had Kaepernick completed that last pass to San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree (or perhaps another receiver not defended by Sherman) then he would have been hailed for his dynamic performance rather than forlornly telling reporters the he cost his team the game.
In such an alternate Kaepernick-as-hero scenario then the play most symbolic of his mesmeric effort wouldn't have been the game-winning score in the final seconds. It would have been the jaw-dropping 26-yard jump pass for a touchdown to Anquan Boldin in the third quarter. With the NFC West rivals even 10-10, Kaepernick showed off his elusiveness as he scrambled to his right; his flair for improvisation as he stopped short to leave his feet; and then his arm strength by throwing the ball on a line to Boldin.
(GIF via @SBNation)
Had the 49ers won the NFC Championship Game with Kaepernick accounting for nearly all of the team's offense then this improbable, seemingly impossible play would have been etched in NFL history. Instead, Kaepernick unraveled early in the fourth quarter and came up just short -- the length of that one arm -- in the final seconds as he tried to recover.