Or basketball, for that matter.
He was a three-sport star at John H. Pitman High in Turlock, Calif., a couple of hours east in California’s Central Valley.
At 6-foot-4 and about 180 pounds as a high school senior, he went 11-2 with a 1.27 ERA with at least one no-hitter — now-retired coach Mick Tate can’t remember for sure if there was a second. Kaepernick batted .313 with 17 RBIs and a .407 on-base percentage. In basketball, he averaged 15.4 points.
“The thing we’re most proud of, those who coached him in high school, is we want to make them better people,” Tate said yesterday. “We didn’t have to work very hard to make him a better person.”
And those close to Kaepernick had a pretty good idea which way he was headed.
“He was a phenomenal basketball player here,” said Philip Sanchez, Kaepernick’s high school guidance counselor and someone who remains a close family friend. “Don’t forget that. People think of it as just baseball-football, no. He went from football, the very next day he was leading his team in basketball. Then the very next day when basketball ended, now it was time to start pitching. That’s rare that you get kids who play three sports these days.”
The Cubs figured they had reason to be somewhat optimistic of swaying Kaepernick. They have had success drafting football players, such as pitcher Jeff Samardzija and outfielder Matt Szczur — a pair of former star college wide receivers who picked baseball.
And Kaepernick had tremendous “upside,” a common phrase the scouts use to describe potential.
The 49ers saw the same upside. Harbaugh made a midseason switch to him as starter over Alex Smith.
“We’re not really surprised at his success, because he’s always had success,” Sanchez said. “I’m just happy that the world has seen the person that we know.”