- Last Updated: 10:02 AM, January 23, 2013
- Posted: 12:38 AM, January 23, 2013
Sam Hughes saw Colin Kaepernick pitch only once before the Cubs drafted him in the 43rd round in 2009.
The team’s national crosschecker immediately liked what he saw from the kid who will start at quarterback for the 49ers in the Super Bowl on Feb. 3.
“He had kind of a different motion, but you could tell he had a great arm,” Hughes said.
And that was from the stands at Mackay Stadium, where Hughes was with friends, watching Kaepernick play quarterback for Nevada as a sophomore.
“The guys I was with told me he was a pitcher in high school who threw in the low 90s,” Hughes said of Kaepernick, who went 9-2 with a 1.27 ERA as a senior at Pitman High School in Turlock, Calif. “So we did some homework on him.”
Hughes, a former quarterback at Louisiana Tech and in the Arena League, reached out to some football contacts. What they told him made Hughes believe Kaepernick’s future might be on the mound.
“I spoke to three NFL teams and they said he was either a late-round pick or even a [Canadian Football League] guy,” Hughes said.
So he and scouting director Tim Wilken recommended to Cubs general manager Jim Hendry that they take a chance on the right-hander.
“I’d picked quarterbacks in the past, and sometimes it’s worth a shot,” said Hendry, now a special assistant to Yankees GM Brian Cashman.
The Cubs believed they could convince Kaepernick at least to throw a bullpen session for them and then they would make him an offer — with the understanding that he would continue to play football at Nevada.
“I tried to talk him into throwing for us for two weeks, both him and his father,” Hughes said. “I said I would fly from Atlanta to Reno to watch him throw.”
Kaepernick wasn’t interested.
“He said he had a new group of receivers to work with and he wanted to focus on making it to the NFL,” Hughes said. “In the back of my head I said, ‘Kid, I’ve talked to a bunch of NFL teams who told me you don’t have much of a shot of playing there.’ I guess that shows what we know.”
Hughes’ gamble was understandable, especially considering his father, Gary, was a scout for the Yankees and helped draft John Elway.
Though Sam Hughes didn’t expect Kaepernick — who wound up going to San Francisco in the second round (No. 36 overall) of the 2011 Draft — to become one of the top QBs in the game so quickly, he isn’t stunned.
“The game has changed so much in the last few years,” said Hughes, who exchanges texts with Kaepernick, most recently after the quarterback’s record-setting performance in the 49ers’ wild-card win over the Packers. “Especially at that position. When we talked to him, there was no Cam Newton or [Robert Griffin III] or Russell Wilson.”
In the end, Hughes never convinced Kaepernick to throw for him.
“I’ve only seen pictures,” Hughes said. “I’d still like to see him pitch. Maybe we’ll get him out to Wrigley someday to throw out the first pitch.”
Kaepernick has other business to finish first.Follow @NYPostsports