NEW ORLEANS -- Super Bowl week's barely underway and there's already plenty of chatter about Colin Kaepernick and Alex Smith percolating to the forefront of media coverage. The relationship between Smith and Kaep will get plenty of attention, and the story about Kaep barely making it as the primary backup is worthy of attention as well.
Kaepernick will also almost certainly be asked 100 million times about his ability as a running quarterback, but 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh would like everyone to remember that Kaep isn't just "a read-option quarterback."
“First of all, I wouldn't categorize Colin as a read-option quarterback," Harbaugh said at his introductory press conference Sunday. "We'd love for our opponent to consider [all the possibilities]. Colin is extremely talented at the read-option, he's extremely talented throwing the football as well. There are a lot of options we could go."
Harbaugh was asked about Kaepernick making his own reads vs. having designed runs for the 49ers offense and, yeah, life would be a lot easier for the 49ers if the Ravens get spread thin prepping for a variety of offensive looks that San Francisco can bring.
But the reality is that Kaepernick isn't primarily a read-option quarterback. He gained his fame as a runner against the Packers in the playoffs when he attempted 16 runs and carried the ball for an NFL record (for a quarterback) 161 rushing yards.
However, over the course of the season, Kaepernick attempted just 63 rushes. (For more context: Andrew Luck attempted to run the ball 62 times.) It's that Green Bay game and his early usage as a wrinkle-in-the-offense weapon that has people stereotyping him.
And Kaepernick himself believes that there's "too much focus" on his play at quarterback.
"I think people have put too much focus on me. I don't think they realize the other weapons we have on this team," Kaepernick said Sunday. "I don't think they realize the great offensive line that we have. There are a lot of other parts on this team that do great things to make it easy for me to go out there."
Michael Crabtree blossomed once Kaepernick took over for the 49ers in 2012. (He produced numbers with Kaepernick that pro-rate out to 92 catches, 1,330 yards and 12 touchdowns over the season). Vernon Davis found something of a shell without Alex Smith throwing to him, but he emerged again against Atlanta, helping to propel the 49ers into the Super Bowl.
So, yes, the 49ers have lots of weapons. But the reason those weapons are really becoming dangerous is Kaepernick. He transformed their offense into a more dynamic, explosive scoring unit.
And it he did it both by running the ball and, more important, allowing the 49ers to get vertical with his cannon of an arm.
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