Second-round draft pick Colin Kaepernick had a minor surgical procedure on his lower left leg shortly after the draft, the former Nevada quarterback said Friday afternoon. The 49ers were aware of the procedure, which is not expected to have any long-term effects on Kaepernick and will not linger into the season.
"It's nothing serious at all," Kaepernick said in a phone interview.
Kaepernick declined to go into details about the injury that led to the procedure, but he said the leg began bothering him toward the end of the 2010 season. Kaepernick played through the injury for the final four games, then went to the Senior Bowl and the scouting combine. It did not seem to affect him. Indeed, Kaepernick's showing at Senior Bowl practices in late January boosted his draft stock, and he ran a 4.53-second 40-yard dash at the February combine, the second fastest of any quarterback.
"For me, going through the end of the season and then on to the Senior Bowl and everything - there wasn't any time to get it handled," Kaepernick said.
Kaepernick is the only player in NCAA history to rush for more than 4,000 yards while throwing for more than 10,000. As recently as Thursday, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke cited Kaepernick's running ability as one of the reasons why the team traded up nine spots to grab Kaepernick in the second round.
Kaepernick rushed for 1,206 yards last season and scored 20 touchdowns on the ground. The four games he played with the injury includes Nevada's come-from-behind win over Boise State and its bowl victory over Boston College.
Agent Scott Smith said NFL teams were aware of Kaepernick's condition prior to the draft. He said Kaepernick could have waited to have the procedure but, given the current labor impasse, decided to get it taken care of now. "That was part of the decision - should he take care of it, should he wait?" Smith said. "He certainly could have (waited). He played four games at Nevada and barely talked about it. Because of the lockout, the timing was as good as it's going to get."
Because of the lockout, the 49ers have had no contact with Kaepernick since the draft and did not handle the medical procedure or the ongoing rehabilitation. But because the Kaepernicks live in nearby Turlock, the surgery was performed at Stanford Hospital, which is where 49ers medical procedures usually are conducted.
The team issued a statement about the procedure: "The 49ers are aware that Colin Kaepernick underwent a procedure to address a pre-existing injury and were fully aware of the injury at the time of the draft. The 49ers have no concerns regarding his health and are confident that he will be ready for the 2011 NFL season."
Asked whether the surgery would affect his learning curve, Kaepernick laughed. "Not at all," he said. "I don't feel like it's going to slow me down at all. I'll be ready for the season, ready for training camp. I'll be ready."
-- Matt Barrows