SAN FRANCISCO Colin Rand Kaepernick's career ended with him, of all things, just standing there, holding the ball in his hands.
One of the most productive football players in NCAA history, the graduate of Pitman High, took a knee as time expired. He spent most of his career cartwheeling through the air, hurling his 6-foot-6 frame toward a pylon or away from some nasty linebacker.
No matter. He already had done plenty. Nevada beat Boston College 20-13 Sunday night in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, and there's nothing wrong with more than 14,000 passing and rushing yards and 81 career touchdowns, right?
"I can't say it's my legacy," Kaepernick said later. "There were a lot of other seniors who were with us. I see it as a team accomplishment."
Kaepernick didn't sparkle this night. His interception and fumble presented BC with 10 early points. A stubborn Golden Eagles defense prevented one of those Kapp Moments.
But here's the point: Kaepernick didn't care. His post-game smile and celebration gave it away. He could have lost 10 fumbles, and all of it would be washed away with a win. Which it was.
All he did was quarterback the best Nevada football team (13-1) in school history. He and his 15 senior teammates set the bar to an unprecedented height, and that will be remembered for decades from Winnemucca to Elko. From Modesto to Merced, too.
Nevada shouldn't mess around with this. Begin the process. Name a street for him, preferably one around Mackay Stadium. How about "Colin's Corner" in one of the end zones? Pin his signature atop the "Biggest Little City in the World" sign downtown.
"He (Kaepernick) is the poster child for Wolf Pack football," the crusty Nevada coach Chris Ault said. "He's the most competitive player I've ever had. He's a winner. We won't replace him, maybe with two players."
Kaepernick's legacy in Nevada is gold-plated. Before he arrived in Reno, Wolf Pack football was considered little more than flyover territory on the college football road map. Today, it is a bona fide hub, the place where No. 3 Boise State fell with such force.
Since that epic night, Kaepernick has grown from "very good quarterback" to "off-the-chart icon" in his adopted state. He's even better off the field. "Maybe the classiest athlete I've met since I've been here," one Nevada official said. "When he says he'll be there at 1, he's there at 12:58." Stories abound how he shakes hands with well-wishers as he walks through airports.
Last summer as an intern in a Reno sports-apparel shop, he helped a customer who had no idea to whom she was speaking find a Colin Kaepernick jersey. "I'm pretty sure it's No. 10, and it's right over here," he said without letting on.
The Virginia Street hotels and casinos have switched their lights to Nevada blue. They've all gone Wolf Pack mad, mostly due to that skinny kid from Turlock, and about 25,000 fans including an estimated 500 from Turlock honored its heroes one last time.
The Kaepernick story resonates in Nevada, a land of rugged individualism and Wild West roots. After all, the conventional wisdom whiffed on him. Only Nevada offered him a football scholarship.
In his first collegiate start, he came within a play of shocking Boise State on its own blue turf. The final score read 69-67 in quadruple overtime, suitably audacious numbers for what soon followed. The rest of the country then watched, year after year, while Kaepernick dismantled opponents with his arm and legs igniting the funky Pistol offense.
In his final collegiate game, he left one more calling card. Rolling to his left, he tossed side-arm to Rishard Matthews for Nevada's only touchdown on offense. He usually paints with broad and bright strokes, but this time it was just a subtle bit of athleticism.
Kaepernick will remember his last game for the sea of blue draped onto the bleachers of AT&T Park and how it all changed for both him and the Wolf Pack since his first day there. He enrolled as an obscure prospect. He leaves as a rock star.
"It's definitely a little bit surreal," he said of the adulation surrounding him. "You never thought you would be the one. To have that actually happen, it's surreal."
For us in the valley, we inscribe Kaepernick's name on the wall of honor next to the other great close-to-home quarterbacks Eddie LeBaron, Paul Larson and Tony Graziani.
But here are the ground rules for the next 40 years or so in Reno: You can pick up Kaepernick's dinner check, but others will fight you for it.
Bee staff writer Ron Agostini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2302.