MODESTO — As a fourth-grade student at Dutcher Elementary School in Turlock, Colin Kaepernick predicted his football future.
"I hope to go to a good college," he wrote, " then go to the pros and play on the Niners "
Can he give us a tip on Wall Street, too?
Kaepernick, the 6-foot-4 graduate of Pitman High, called his shot:
At Nevada, he became the first player in the history of the NCAA to pass for 10,000 yards and rush for 4,000 yards.
Today, he's the exciting quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers.
Talk about planning your life.
Kaepernick's stunning rise to the top of the 49ers' depth chart, along with his impact on the valley sports scene, makes him The Bee's No. 1 local sports story of 2012.
1. It started innocently enough in a preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings. Kaepernick took the shotgun snap, faked to LaMichael James and dashed past the Vikings as though they were stuck in cement.
For good measure, he outran veteran corner Chris Cook to complete a 78-yard rip to the end zone. That was Kaepernick's unofficial introduction to the 49er Faithful, and it got better.
When starting quarterback Alex Smith merely the guy who nearly led the 49ers to the Super Bowl last season suffered a concussion in Week 10, Kaepernick got his chance.
And when Smith recovered, he didn't get his job back. Kaepernick's "wow' factor prevailed. The move was provocative. Smith's 70 percent completion percentage and 104.1 passer rating still rank him among the top in the NFL.
But as we've seen, Kaepernick was more than ready. There were reasons why the 49ers traded up in the 2011 NFL Draft to acquire Kaepernick in the second round. Coach Jim Harbaugh, a former quarterback himself, couldn't wait to open his shiny new package.
Kaepernick has shown his inexperience at times, but his physical explosiveness has won games and electrified both fans and his teammates. His 50-yard runs and accurate throws downfield have negated his occasional errors, and the 49ers are Super Bowl contenders.
He probably seized the QB berth for good when he threw four touchdown passes something Smith never had done to stun Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on the road two weeks ago.
And to think Kaepernick is not surprised by anything he's done. He knew in fourth grade.
2. Erin Cafaro, Modesto-born and raised, has contributed to the six-year unbeaten streak by American rowers in the women's eight, one of the least appreciated dynasties in international sport. A gold-medal winner in Beijing in 2008, she trained for a transition to pairs until a near-loss last spring by the big boat forced a quick change in strategy.
The new directive: Get Cafaro back in the bow seat.
The idea worked according to plan. Just like four years before, Cafaro and Company started fast in the London finals and built an uncatchable lead.
The graduate of Modesto High became the first local athlete to win two Olympic gold medals.
3. The Central Catholic Raiders and their entertaining "Ray and Rey Show," running backs Ray Lomas and Rey Vega, gathered momentum until by playoff time they grew into a bona fide beast.
In the State Division 4 final, they blitzed Santa Fe Christian 66-7 in a historic performance. Central Catholic set State Bowl records for total points and margin of victory and forced a running clock in the second half.
The Raiders (14-2) also became the first Stanislaus District team to make a repeat trip to Carson.
4. Any public school that advances to the State Bowl is significant. Oakdale (14-2) earned that trip with an undersized but hard-hitting team that lacked Central Catholic's star power but made up for it in moxie.
The Mustangs rallied for a pulsating 27-24 win over Clayton Valley for the Northern California title. Though they were overwhelmed by Serra of Gardena in the Division 2 title game, they certified their status as a district power. Oakdale claimed its ninth Valley Oak League title and second Sac-Joaquin Section championship under coach Trent Merzon.
5. The Modesto Nuts started 2-9 and showed very little evidence during the first two months that they would extend their season to the max the California League Championship Series.
Though the Nuts were swept in the final by Lancaster, they became the first Modesto team under Colorado ownership to get there. This overachieving team won the North Division second-half title, beat San Jose in the first round and rallied from 0-2 down to top Bakersfield
Attendance at Thurman Field was 175,918, third-highest all-time.
6. Modesto's Suzy Powell-Roos, the three-time Olympian and two-time national champion in the discus, wouldn't commit to retirement. Now 36, the former three-time state CIF champion at Downey High may have reached the end of her career after a spirited bid for one final trip to the Olympics.
Powell-Roos placed third at the Trials, which usually punches an athlete's ticket to the Games, but didn't advance because she failed to reach the Olympic qualifying standard. Earlier in the year, 2008 gold medalist Stephanie Brown Trafton broke Powell-Roos' 5-year-old national record.
7. Scott Brooks, the Lathrop-raised coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder, led the Thunder into the NBA Championship Series. That it lost to the Miami Heat didn't minimize Brooks' impact in his five seasons as coach.
Brooks, a former NBA Coach of the Year, orchestrates one of the league's most appealing teams. Under his guidance, the Thunder has won 152 games entering this season, second in the league behind only San Antonio's Gregg Popovich.
OKC once again is rolling behind Brooks, the 1983 graduate of East Union High.
8. It can be said that the Detroit Tigers wouldn't have reached the World Series without pitchers Doug Fister (Merced) or Phil Coke (Sonora). Both enjoyed memorable, if bittersweet, moments during their eventual loss to the Giants.
Remarkably, Fister overcame a line drive to the head off the bat of Gregor Blanco and carried a shutout into the seventh inning of Game 2 before he and the Tigers were beaten 2-0.
Coke had struck out seven straight during the World Series until the 10th inning of Game 4, when he yielded the eventual Series-ending run. That was the only run he allowed in 10º post-season innings.
9. Modesto officials made a comprehensive and high-tech bid to bring back the Amgen Tour of California, the nation's most prestigious bicycle race, to the city limits. Modesto had successfully served as a part of the Tour from 2008 through 2011.
Their bid was rejected, but Modesto shouldn't take it personally. The entire Central Valley was bypassed by the Tour, which sought different roads and locations.
10. Michael "May Day" McDonald of Modesto, a 21-year-old phenom, (19-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC), has risen to near the top of the bantamweight martial arts world. Last April, he certified his status with an impressive knockout over former champion Miguel Torres.
Since that bout, however, McDonald underwent surgery to repair ligaments in his hand. His layoff has ended. He's training toward the biggest fight of his young career a title shot Feb. 16 against interim champion Renan Barao of Brazil. It will take place at Wembley Arena in London.
11. Valley basketball fans always have felt that University of the Pacific coach Bob Thomason is one of their own. Perhaps it was because he cut his coaching teeth for 15 years at Escalon, Turlock, Columbia College and Cal State Stanislaus.
Thomason, the Big West Conference's all-time winningest coach, is leading the Tigers in his 25th and last season. He announced his resignation before the current season, and he'll leave with no regrets. His teams have won 20-plus game nine times, and Pacific's NCAA Tournament wins over Providence and Pittsburgh burnish his legacy.
12. The 2012 Downey Knights vanquished opponents with a prolific offense engineered by quarterback Aaron Zwahlen. All he did was pass for 3,852 yards and 49 touchdowns while the Knights (10-2) raced to their first Modesto Metro Conference championship.
Downey's season was further spiced even after it ended. Granite Bay, which eliminated the Knights in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs, eventually won a State Bowl title. So did Central Catholic, which was beaten by Downey early in the season.
13. Reggie Jones stands alone as the only Cal State Stanislaus Division II first-team All-American, male or female, since the university shifted to D-2 in 1989.
The 6-foot-9 Jones, from Paterson, N.J., averaged 19.1 points and 6.9 rebounds last season. His effort was critical for a Warriors team that went 16-11, including 12-10 in California Collegiate Athletic Association play, the school's best record since 2003.
Jones capped his career by joining 20 other invitees at the NABC Division II All-Star Game in Kentucky.
14. Oakdale High's Manny Hernandez performed in the shadows of his fraternal brother Marcus, a football star, until last spring. That's when Manny commanded his own spotlight by winning the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters title in the high jump and eventually placing third at the State Meet in Clovis.
No one jumped higher than Hernandez at State. He cleared a career-best 6-10¼ but settled for third due to more misses.
His ascent was fast. Before 2012, his best was 6-3.
15. Escalon's Class of 2012, one of the best athletically in school history, left the Cougars with one special farewell gift a third section baseball title and a second state championship.
The Cougars (27-1-1) lost only to Division 1 Beyer and were led by pitcher Matt Valencia and sluggers Josh Miguel and Patrick Mulry. Coach Greg Largent was selected the state small-school coach of the year by CalHi Sports.
16. Ervin Zador, the pied piper of valley swimmers for decades, died last May at age 77. The swim complex at Ripon High bears his name. But how many of his students over the years were aware of his remarkable life?
Zador won an Olympic water polo gold medal for Hungary in 1956. Hungary campaigned toward that title by beating the Soviet Union, which violently crushed the Hungarian revolution less than a month before, in an infamous match.
The photo of Zador, blood dripping down his face after a sucker punch (he scored two goals against the Soviets), was seen around the world. He never went home. He defected to Northern California and launched another phase of his incredible life.
17. The bar for basketball excellence at Modesto Christian always is raised somewhere toward the stars. The Crusader teams again delivered in 2012.
A young boys team (28-6) rolled to the NorCal Division 4 semifinals, where the Crusaders fell to Sacred Heart Prep of Atherton 58-57.
The girls (27-7), stepping up to Division 3 for the first time, were stopped in the NorCal semifinals at Bishop O'Dowd 76-46. For MC consolation, O'Dowd later pounded to a run-away state title.
18. The Oakdale baseball program rivals the football team for year-in-year-out dominance. Last spring, the Mustangs (27-5) took home their third straight section Division 4 title and fifth in six years with a 12-2 rout over Sonora.
Veteran coach Hondo Arpoika will feature another talented team next year, his last for Oakdale.
19. Grace Davis has lost one that's 1 MMC basketball game during the previous three seasons. It happened in 2012, and it didn't keep a young Spartans team (21-7) from winning its third straight title.
Coach Dan Pacheco featured another hustling team, featuring Kyle Seever, that didn't stop until a first-round loss to St. Mary's.
20. The Ripon High football team (11-1), not big but stocked at the skill positions, trod new ground with almost every win. They registered an unbeaten regular season for the first time since 1983 and beat rival Escalon for the first time in 15 years.
Tellingly, Ripon led Central Catholic 21-17 at halftime of its playoff game before falling to the eventual state champions. The Indians mounted the only serious threat to CC late in the season.