NEW ORLEANS — It’s come down to this: Mothers request Colin Kaepernick dates for their daughters.
Rick and Teresa Kaepernick, Colin’s parents, like the entertainment value, but they also recognize the 120-car train chugging toward them. Their time with him has been reduced to precious minutes.
The world stands in line for Colin Kaepernick, from TV networks to fans to those anxious moms, and all his parents can do is watch — amused if also slightly alarmed — from a distance.
“It’s crazy, but crazy good,” Rick Kaepernick said.
Colin Kaepernick has rocket-launched from backup to Super Bowl quarterback in barely two months. He used to be the skinny kid from Turlock, the orchestrator of a gimmick offense at Nevada.
Today, his name jumps from the lips of every football fan from Atwater to Atlantic City. The quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers walks into the Superdome for Super Bowl XLVII Sunday as the phenom, the gunslinger, the wonder boy with skills so dazzling they jump off the TV screen and rearrange your living room.
Let’s take inventory. Kaepernick is 25, a bachelor and a Super Bowl quarterback after only nine career starts. He’s so cutting-edge that you could bleed by standing near him. He’s raced past “trendy” and is fast-approaching “radioactive.” The Kaepernicking pose is copied at playgrounds, fraternity parties and more than a few sports bars.
Know this: His life never will be the same after the 49ers’ summit meeting with the Baltimore Ravens. The couple that adopted him when he was 5 weeks old understood the consequences long ago. So did the quarterback with the “My Gift Is My Curse” tattoo stamped onto his bicep.
“There is no way we can be alone in public with him anymore,” Teresa said.
A rare family dinner with Colin this week was interfered by fans poking the restaurant window for snapshots. The 49ers eventually stepped in and set aside a hotel room for a gathering of Colin’s family and closest friends Friday night.
Undercover security officers have followed Kaepernick around New Orleans this week. His future peace of mind is at stake. Win or lose, he must make some lifestyle choices.
His parents saw Colin exactly twice during the regular season — the bye week in early November and for 20 hours on Christmas Eve. There just wasn’t enough time in the day to fit his commitments around his 24-7 focus on the game.
“We spent about 30 minutes with him after the Atlanta game (for the NFC championship two weeks ago),” Rick said. “That was a bonus.”
Whether or not Colin enjoys the ramped-up attention is moot. It’s not going away soon, and a victory over the Ravens will intensify the storm.
“He’s a grounded kid. He’ll be fine with it,” Teresa said. “He was always so good at giving autographs, but he just can’t do it anymore. If he stops, he gets swarmed and he can’t get to where he’s going.”
Kaepernick’s sole priority is winning. Right now, the target is the Super Bowl. In nine months, it will be the 2013 season opener. The rare losses stick to him like a virus.
The parents still remember his first collegiate start in 2007. Kaepernick sparkled like found gold — 177 rushing yards and two touchdowns, and 243 passing yards and three touchdowns — all on Boise State’s daunting blue rug. But Nevada lost, 69-67, in four jarring overtimes.
“We were so excited that Colin played so well until we caught up with him. He was miserable,” Rick said. “He just said, ‘We didn’t win.’ As far as he was concerned, it was awful.”
It also explains, however, his warp-speed rise into the NFL stratosphere. He’ll trade the loss of privacy if it means one or two new Lombardi trophies for the 49ers. Call it the cost of doing business.
The new norm for Rick and Teresa is that the son they once called “our little Colin” must be shared from here forward. They’re amused by the mothers hoping against hope for a Colin-daughter matchup. Their priority, however, is the little boy who became a star.
Because these days are crazy. Crazy good.
NOTEBOOK: Matchup to watch — Ravens LG Kelechi Osemele vs. 49ers DL Justin Smith: Aldon Smith hasn’t had a sack in five games, and much of the drought can be attributed to the triceps injury Justin Smith suffered in Week 15. He has gutted it out through the first two playoff games, but admits it’s a 50 percent tear that will require surgery. Several of Aldon Smith’s sacks this season have come when looping around Justin Smith — a master of the subtle art of holding offensive linemen. The rookie Osemele was moved from right tackle to left guard at the start of the postseason and has held up well. … Player spotlight — Ravens MLB Ray Lewis: Who else? The 17-year veteran is one game away from completing the fairytale ending of riding off into the sunset with a Lombardi Trophy in hand. He’s not as fast as he once was, but Lewis’ legs have looked fresh since his return from injury and he won’t be fooled by anything the 49ers throw at him. … Fast facts: The 49ers have won all five of their Super Bowl appearances. … The Ravens (.650, 13-7) have the highest postseason winning percentage of any team.