Well before carving a niche in San Francisco’s offense, Colin Kaepernick made a public statement that being a second-string quarterback for the rest of his NFL career wasn’t acceptable to him.
“Trying to be #1 in a world that accepts #2” is the declaration that now appears alongside Kaepernick’s Twitter account (@Kaepernick7).
“It was something I did working out through the summer,” Kaepernick told FOXSports.com after Wednesday’s practice. “I felt the way people talked to me was like, ‘It’s OK to be No. 2 in the NFL, a backup,’ and things like that. That’s never been my approach.
“If you’re going to do something, you’re going to do it to be the best. When you step on the field, you want to be a starter. You want to be the person everybody looks to and says, ‘If we need a play to be made, let’s go to him.’ That (Twitter statement) just summed it all up in a short phrase.”
With the way Kaepernick has excelled in limited playing time this season, a starting role either with the 49ers or elsewhere could be in his future.
Kaepernick made his first big NFL splash two weeks ago during a 34-0 rout of the New York Jets. He out-Tebowed Jets quarterback Tim Tebow when running read-option plays. Kaepernick threw an incompletion on his only pass attempt, but ran five times for 50 yards and one touchdown while spelling Alex Smith.
Kaepernick was so effective that he reprised the role last Sunday against Buffalo with more impressive results. Although he did lose a fumble, Kaepernick posted another 39 rushing yards and a touchdown on four carries.
The New York Giants must now spend time game-planning for Kaepernick as well as Smith entering the FOX America’s Game of the Week on Sunday at Candlestick Park (4:25 p.m. ET).
“It’s been amazing,” Kaepernick said of his role. “Just being back on the field feels great. Anything I can do to help this team make this offense run better or put points on the board, I want to do.”
Although the athleticism he displayed at the University of Nevada was a big reason San Francisco made him a 2011 second-round draft pick, Kaepernick admits he wasn’t ready for immediate playing time.
“The biggest thing was just getting comfortable with this offense,” said Kaepernick, who appeared briefly in three games as a rookie. “There’s so much terminology. We have so many shifts and motions and different plays. To really be comfortable, you need some time in it. Especially with the lockout last year, to go into the preseason and jump right into the (regular) season, there really wasn’t too much time for rookies to get comfortable. There was a learning curve.”
The 49ers’ offensive coordinator, Greg Roman, told FOXSports.com that Kaepernick’s growth isn’t just evident on the field but also the quarterback meeting room.
“He’s a lot more interactive,” Roman said. “That’s a great sign. He asks great questions, finds mistakes. That’s what you want guys to do.”
To push Smith for a starting spot or garner future trade consideration from quarterback-needy teams, Kaepernick must prove himself as a passer. He did show marked improvement during the 2012 preseason from a rookie campaign in which he threw five interceptions and completed just 48 percent of his attempts while working with other 49ers backups.
Kaepernick said he can now “see what defenses are trying to do to us and how we want to attack them in different ways. That’s really helped me this year being on the field having that understanding of what we’re trying to get done.”