Patriots hoping to contain 49ers QB Kaepernick
Colin Kaepernick is giving the New England Patriots some extra
things to think about this week.
As if defending perennial Pro Bowl running back Frank Gore
wasn’t enough of a concern, the Patriots (10-3) now must focus on
curtailing San Francisco’s shifty quarterback in front of a
national audience Sunday night.
”Our job is to contain him, running and passing,” New England
defensive end Chandler Jones said Friday. ”Kaepernick’s a good
athlete. He can throw the ball and he can run as well. It’s our job
to contain him.”
Easier said than done.
The Miami Dolphins last week discovered first-hand how difficult
that task can be.
Trailing by seven late in the fourth quarter, the Dolphins’
defense surrendered a 50-yard touchdown run to Kaepernick, who
deftly deceived the defensive line with a perfect play-action fake,
bounced outside and darted untouched up the left sideline for the
clinching score for the 49ers (9-3-1).
”Everybody came to me and Mr. Everything did his thing,” Gore
said after the win.
The highlight-reel run also served noticed to the rest of the
league – there is no quarterback controversy in the Bay Area.
”He’s a guy that can do a lot. Just that last run he had
against Miami last week where he’s able to just hit the sideline
and pull away from everybody and he has a very strong arm,”
Patriots safety Devin McCourty said. ”So, another young
quarterback that we’re playing that we’re going to just try to make
things tough on him, do different things, but he’s really grasped
onto the offense fast. He hasn’t played in many games, but he’s
been very productive.”
Kaepernick’s primary numbers don’t jump out at you – three
passing touchdowns, five touchdown runs and a 67.4 completion
percentage. Yet the 25-year-old has just one interception in 129
pass attempts, has eclipsed 200 yards passing in three of his four
starts and is averaging 7.6 yards per carry.
”He has one interception. As a young guy to be playing football
and playing at a high level like he’s doing, he’s not making many
mistakes at all and he’s not throwing into coverage where guys are
just dropping balls,” McCourty said. ”I think because of his arm
strength, he’s able to even throw in some tight windows and get the
throw in there and it’s the right read. So it’s going to be tough
San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh earlier this week highlighted
Kaepernick’s top qualities, saying he’s fast, powerful, smart and
reads the field extremely well.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick sees similar talents.
”I think the two most important things for a quarterback are
his decision making and accuracy. I could probably go out there and
read the field decently but I don’t think you’d want me playing
quarterback,” Belichick joked. ”There are other guys that can
thread a needle but maybe not see as well, but I think the
combination of seeing the field, making good decisions and accuracy
is really what it comes down to more than some other qualities.
”I think he’s done it to a degree,” he added. ”He’s a young,
improving quarterback. It looks like he gets better each week and
probably plays with more confidence and does things a little bit
better each week. But, I wouldn’t disagree with (Harbaugh).”
Kaepernick started the season as the backup to Alex Smith, who
just last season led San Francisco to within one victory of the
Super Bowl and had the 49ers at 6-2 and atop the NFC West before
going down with a concussion in the first half against St. Louis on
The 36th overall pick in the 2011 draft then calmly stepped
under center and inherited the starting role even with Smith
healthy enough to return.
”This guy, he can throw the football, he has a strong arm, he’s
pretty accurate. For the most part, he makes pretty good
decisions,” said New England nose tackle Vince Wilfork. ”To be
playing only a couple of weeks, he makes some good plays for this
The Patriots defense, however, poses perhaps the most formidable
test yet for the mobile quarterback.
Their run defense is eighth in the league, surrendering just
more than 100 yards a game. And while the unit still ranks 29th
against the pass, it has vastly improved since the acquisition of
cornerback Aqib Talib, who has played in four games for the AFC
East champions. New England has won seven straight, including a
dominating 42-14 victory over the first-place Houston Texans on
”Defensively, turnovers and points allowed, that’s really what
decides the game,” McCourty said. ”We can pull up a bunch of
different stats, but how many points have you given up and try to
take the ball away. So for us, it stays the same throughout the
”We’ll have our work cut out for us this week. This team and
this offense, they do a good job of taking care of the ball, so
we’re really going to have to try to go out there and make our own
plays in the passing game and running game.”
For the 49ers to win, so will Kaepernick.