The 49ers had three shots at scoring a touchdown from the Ravens' 5-yard line to win the Super Bowl. Colin Kaepernick threw three incomplete passes. This is the kind of missed glory that can weigh on the mind of a quarterback long after the game is over. But in Kaepernick's case, that doesn't necessarily have to be a destructive dynamic.

In a feature in its September issue, GQ tracked down one of Kaepernick's high school math teachers to illustrate the point that he thrives on learning from mistakes.

"Colin was obsessed with problem solving, with figuring out how things worked," recalls Amy Curd, his pre-calculus teacher at John H. Pitman High School in Turlock, California. "He always sat in the front of the class." Even when he got a 96 or 98 on a test, Kaepernick, who ended high school with a 4.1 GPA, "was only interested in what he'd done wrong. It was never about the grades -- he was in that class to learn."

Kaepernick acknowledged he has this fixation but said it ultimately benefits him, which should come as a relief to 49ers fans.

"All my life, I’ve had these flashbacks, these dreams, nightmares, daymares, like visions, where I relive certain plays," Kaepernick tells GQ. "Only the bad plays. I see them over and over, as if somebody's rewinding a tape and forcing me to watch. Some of these are recent.

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"But some of them go back to high school. Every time I relive these mistakes of mine, I’m also forced to ask, What could I have done different? What decisions could I have made? This stuff haunts me, but I like it, because it makes the game hard. And the more I study, the more comfortable I feel with what a defense is going to do."

Being the starting quarterback in San Francisco comes with a certain amount of institutional pressure. The 49ers managed to replace one Hall of Famer in Joe Montana with another in Steve Young, which defies the odds. (Want to run the down the list of Dolphins quarterbacks since Dan Marino retired?) Even Jeff Garcia, who came after Young, made three Pro Bowls with the 49ers. So maybe it's a plus for Kaepernick that he subjects himself to such self scrutiny. Having thick skin is part of his job description.

For the complete feature on Colin Kaepernick, go to

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