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2011 49ers Draft Picks: Colin Kaepernick's Battle For Playing Time

With the 36th overall pick in the draft, the San Francisco 49ers drafted the player that they have pegged as their quarterback of the future. Colin Kaepernick is not 'settling,' he is not being brought in for lack of any better options. The 49ers moved out of their spot at the 45, giving up fourth and fifth round picks to the Denver Broncos for the right to land Kaepernick and have him sport the red and gold in 2011. But will he actually see the field under center in 2011, or will Alex Smith come back and get the starting nod, as many consider the likeliest scenario? Certainly, most feel as though the best course of action is to sit Kaepernick from the onset.

But Kaepernick has made it abundantly clear that he's ready to compete, at least in his mind, from day one. Whether it be against Alex Smith, an undrafted rookie free agent, David Carr, or any other kind of outside signal caller, Kaepernick wants to battle them and win the starting nod. It is very clearly an uphill battle at this point though, against anybody with NFL experience. With the lockout and potential for a shortened training camp, Kaepernick's chances go down lower and lower.

As it stands, Alex Smith is confirmed to have one of Jim Harbaugh's playbooks, and one can assume that Kaepernick has some sort of understanding of what the book looks like at this point. It may very well hinge on what he can do on his own and with Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck at this point. He'd need to come into training camp already with an understanding of the offense to some degree, because it's clear that Smith is a very intelligent guy who is no stranger to picking up new playbooks on the fly.

It's an uphill battle for Kaepernick to earn the starting role, but Harbaugh is an inventive guy, so don't rule out Kaepernick getting some plays out of a pistol-esque offense at the NFL level to try and catch a defense off guard. One has to feel as though he'll get the backup nod at the very least, considering this is not a team floundering at the bottom of the barrel like it was when Smith was thrust into the starting role when he was so young.