Kurt Warner says Colin Kaepernick 'still learning how to play' in pocket

Much was made this offseason about Colin Kaepernick seeking the tutelage of former league MVP Kurt Warner in his attempt to become a better pocket passer.

Naturally, San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Tomsula's statement last week that the Niners are not a dropback team raised eyebrows. Warner 's own offering of some pithy comments Monday about Kaepernick was also a head-scratcher, especially by his urging critics to give the fourth-year starter time to "grow" into the position.

"I think the unfortunate thing for Kap is he's continuing to try to learn how to play the quarterback position," Warner said of Kaepernick, who took over as the Niners starter in 2012, on NFL Network.

"Here's an athlete that's done some great things, not only before this but also in the NFL up to this point. But he's still learning how to play within the pocket, still learning to get better with his technique, still trying to figure out what he's seeing and making quicker decisions with the football."

Kaepernick's Total QBR as a starter through four games is a career-low 38.6, which ranks 27th in the NFL. He has two passing touchdowns and a rushing score, though all three scores came with the 49ers trailing by at least 25 points.

"I know everybody wants to get down on him, but give the kid a chance to grow into the position," Warner said. "I have no idea what his future is going to be, but it's a young man that's never really had to play the position like they're asking him to play it now, and he's trying to learn and he's learning under the gun."

Many critics would argue that the Niners knew exactly what they were drafting out of Nevada - a pistol quarterback who would bring his unique skill set to the NFL.

But after stratospheric highs -- coming within 5 yards of winning Super Bowl XLVII in his first year as a starter and returning to the NFC title game a year later -- Kaepernick has seemingly bottomed out the past two games.

In 47-7 and 17-3 losses to the Arizona Cardinals and Green Bay Packers, respectively, Kaepernick has five interceptions, no touchdowns and just six completions on passes more than 5 yards downfield.

Wasn't this what Warner was supposed to work on with Kaepernick? Or is he simply regressing?

"I think you have to look at the whole scenario," Warner said. "Early in his career, he ran a lot of that zone-read. They forced other teams to bring an extra guy in the box and they gave him a lot of man-to-man coverage on the outside. As a quarterback, you love that because you drop back, you pick out your best matchup and you just throw it to the one-on-one guy.

"Now that they're not running as much and they don't want to subject him to those kind of hits, now he's playing more dropback quarterback. Teams are playing more zone against him, and he's having to make more decisions, see more on the fly and be able to anticipate and make some of those throws that he hasn't really had to make in the past. I don't know if it's regression or it's just a young man that's trying to learn. As I always say, it's hard to learn at the best level. It's hard to learn against the best players in the world, and that's what we're asking some of these spread quarterbacks to do once they move into the NFL."