MERCED — Merced High School football coach Rob Scheidt almost laughs when he thinks back to when his team faced Colin Kaepernick.
Before he became an NFL star, leading the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl, Kaepernick was a three-sport standout at Pitman High in Turlock.
"The odd thing is because of Anthony Harding and Pitman's strong running game, we felt if we could force Kaepernick to throw, it would give us our best chance to win."
Force a future NFL quarterback to beat you?
Seems like a strange strategy now, but Scheidt wasn't the only coach in the Central California Conference who felt that way.
As the quarterback, Kaepernick wasn't the featured player in Pitman's run-first offense. Instead, it was Harding who would go on to be named the conference MVP.
"What people forget is they had Anthony Harding in the backfield," Golden Valley coach Dennis Stubbs said. "He played at Fresno State. That's a pretty good backfield."
Local fans saw plenty of Kaepernick during his high school career, whether it was on the football field, basketball court or baseball diamond.
However, the 49ers star looked a lot different back then. The 2005 Pride football roster lists Kaepernick at 6-foot-5 and 190 pounds.
Let's put it this way, there wasn't as much to kiss if he started "Kaepernicking" back then.
"I remember him as a tall, skinny guy in high school," said former Merced standout Carter Todd. "He was always really good, but never dominant. We played other teams who I thought had better players. He just never stopped working."
'Born to be a Niners fan'
Carter and his twin brother, Logan, grew up competing against Kaepernick from the time they were 8 years old playing Pop Warner football.
The Todds also played football, basketball and baseball at Merced High.
Carter, now 24 and attending Sacramento State University, actually took a football recruiting trip to Nevada during Kaepernick's red-shirt season.
Eventually both Todd brothers spent a year at Texas Tech as walk-on players. As it turns out, Texas Tech had an all-world freshman receiver by the name of Michael Crabtree that year.
"That's why I tell people I was born to be a Niners fan," Carter said. "We grew up playing against their starting quarterback. I was also on the same team as their star receiver, Michael Crabtree."
While Kaepernick was at Pitman, the Pride and Merced played one of the more memorable football games in the past decade.
Led by Logan and Carter, Merced came back from a 25-point deficit in the second half to beat Kaepernick and Pitman 53-39 in 2005.
The Bears scored an astonishing 32 points in the last six minutes of the game.
"I remember it was our homecoming that night," said Logan, who went on to play baseball at Sacramento State and still lives in Sacramento. "We had a big crowd, but we were losing so bad that after the homecoming festivities at halftime there was nobody left in the stadium. "
Logan spent most of the second half throwing to his brother, finishing the game with 399 yards and three touchdowns. Carter hauled in 11 receptions for 226 yards and a touchdown.
Kaepernick completed 11 of 24 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns that night.
"I can't really explain that game," Scheidt said. "I remember telling Logan to keep slinging it and we'll come back. Logan, being the leader he was, did and our guys just kept playing."
Watching the 49ers games on television it seems the legend of Colin Kaepernick grows with each touchdown pass or jaw- dropping run.
If you listen to the sports broadcasters, they make it seem like Kaepernick was a can't-miss baseball product. The Chicago Cubs took a chance and drafted Kaepernick in the 43rd round of the MLB draft in 2009.
During the NFC championship game, Fox's Joe Buck said Kaepernick was an all-state basketball player in high school.
Kaepernick averaged more than 15 points per game for Pitman. He could definitely hold his own on the basketball court, but he wasn't an all-state caliber player.
"Every time I see him on 'SportsCenter,' it's weird to think we were just playing with him in football, basketball and baseball," Logan said. "To see him now, it's almost unreal.
"He was definitely a top-level player in high school, but he wasn't phenomenal."
What is true is the dedication and work ethic Kaepernick had that helped him become the player you see today.
"After seeing him in high school and watching him in college, you just thought something was going to happen for him," Stubbs said. "He's a great kid who had everything together."