Upon further review, ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer conceded his November assessment of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick as "remedial" with regard to his progression in the passing game might have come off a little harsh.

"I wish I could change that word because it was such a hot-button word," Dilfer told reporters Thursday in a national conference call. "The kid knows I love him. I see him in the offseason and I'm always very supportive. I think he's a great competitor."

In the aftermath of a 10-9 Week 10 loss to the Carolina Panthers in which Kaepernick completed 11 of 22 passes for 91 yards, threw an interception and absorbed six sacks, Dilfer said the quarterback was "remedial" in terms of finding alternate receivers if there was initially no one open.

Kapernick's response?

"I think you should ask him if he knows what my progression is first before he says that," Kaepernick said.

Dilfer, drawing upon his own experience as a quarterback, saw no value in discussing the comment with Kaepernick.

"I know I wouldn't want someone who criticized me to come and confront me at any point when I was playing," Dilfer said.

In retrospect, Dilfer said his criticisms had as much to do with the state of the 49ers' offense on Nov. 11 as it did with Kaepernick. He labeled the 49ers "a circa 1970s passing game" which relies heavily on the run and with play-action designed to get only one or two receivers open.


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"They're mad at me for saying that, but they don't have a real complex passing game that has multiple progressions built-in, protection adjustments, a lot of layers to it," Dilfer said.

Since the Carolina game, Dilfer sees a much more decisive quarterback, citing the return of wide receiver Michael Crabtree as a factor.

"The best thing he's doing is letting it rip, making big-time throws into contested coverage and getting the ball out of his hand," Dilfer said. "And when it does break down and his instinct is to run, he obviously has tremendous ability to do so, as we saw against Green Bay."

Dilfer, who evaluates hundreds of high school-age quarterbacks through his involvement in the Elite 11 quarterback program, sees the size and speed of Kaepernick and Carolina quarterback Cam Newton as the wave of the future rather than as an aberration.

"The biggest, baddest dude is no longer playing wide receiver, tight end or defensive end, he's playing quarterback," Dilfer said. "We'll go to Texas this year and there will be 30 kids that are 6-4 and above, 220 and above and can run in the mid-4.5s, 4.6s. They're everywhere."

Follow Jerry McDonald on Twitter at twitter.com/Jerrymcd.