Kaepernick makes his way onto field in key moments
October 3, 2012
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) – Every week, 49ers tight end Vernon Davis anxiously awaits the game plan offensive coordinator Greg Roman is conjuring up. For Davis, Roman’s creativity has stood out since his arrival as part of Jim Harbaugh’s staff prior to last season.
Davis has been particularly impressed by Roman’s acumen for taking advantage of each individual’s strengths and finding ways to keep everyone involved.
In the 49ers’ 34-0 win against the New York Jets on Sunday, it was backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s turn to show how he can help the team. The 2011 second-round pick made his first appearance on the team’s second drive and quickly made an impact by rushing for 17 yards on a triple option out of the shotgun.
Starter Alex Smith rotated back in, but three plays later Kaepernick entered again, this time to throw a pass nearly 60 yards to Randy Moss in the end zone.
The pass fell incomplete, but it became clear Kaepernick’s talent warrants consideration for the game plan each week and that opposing defenses will have to account for him.
“This staff has always been creative,” Davis said. “Greg Roman, he’s one of the best at it, as far as being an offensive coordinator. He’s getting guys involved and at the end of the day, that’s what it’s about.”
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Roman waited until the 49ers faced a third and 6 from the Jets’ 7-yard line on their next drive to go back to Kaepernick. He dialed up a designed quarterback sweep and Kaepernick went nearly untouched into the end zone to give the 49ers their first points of the game.
At Nevada, Kaepernick ran the pistol offense and became the first player in NCAA history to throw for over 10,000 yards and rush for over 4,000. The 49ers showcased his ability to run the read option during the preseason, but until Sunday, his lone regular-season highlight was a 17-yard draw that set up kicker David Akers’ NFL-record tying 63-yard field goal in the season opener against Green Bay.
“Colin’s a very dynamic player,” Harbaugh said. “A great team player, too. Everybody wants to play and feel a part of contributing to the winning. But there’s been no self-serving, shameless self-promotion by Colin, as he’s been in this understudy role, this backup role, to lobby for packages or play time.”
Harbaugh said Smith and Kaepernick both rep the option plays in practice but it’s clear Kaepernick is more dangerous than Smith with his feet.
With the game out of hand in the fourth quarter, Kaepernick came back for some mop-up duty, but still found a way to make a positive impression on his coaches. It appeared his job would be to hand off to Anthony Dixon and let the time wind down, but on third and 4 following the two-minute warning, Kaepernick took a bootleg 30 yards and, despite a clear path to the end zone, slid at the 3-yard line.
It wasn’t a decision based on sportsmanship, it was a conscious decision to end the game. Two kneel downs followed and the 49ers moved to 3-1.
“That’s one less kickoff we have to cover,” Kaepernick said. “That’s one less time we have to go out on defense. We can end the game with no more collisions or chance of injury.”
Harbaugh said the situation had been discussed before the play, but understood how it could have been a difficult play to make considering the nature of the game.
“When you’re out there running in the open field and the end zone’s there right in front of you, that’s still up to the man,” Harbaugh said.
How Roman and Harbaugh allow Kaepernick’s role to evolve remains to be seen, but the potential has teammates and fans excited.
“I’m sure Greg Roman will continue to put him in and do some things with him,” Davis said. “He’ll have his own little package, whatever he can do to help the team win.”
NOTES: RB Brandon Jacobs (knee) could potentially make his season debut Sunday at home against Buffalo. “I’m ready to play,” Jacobs said. Jacobs injured his knee in the second preseason game and had been out of practice until last week, when he was a limited participant. . WR Ted Ginn Jr. (ankle) made his season debut against the Jets and returned four punts for 40 yards.