49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

November 28, 2012
Gunslinger mentality: Kaepernick's got it, Smith does not


Colin Kaepernick's family is from Wisconsin, so naturally he grew up rooting for the Green Bay Packers. And when you root for the Packers in the 2000s, you root for Brett Favre.

"I always watched Brett Favre," Kaepernick said today. "I loved the way he played the game. He had no fear of what the defense was going to do. He was going to go out there and take his shots."

Asked if, like Favre, he considered himself a gunslinger, Kaepernick shied away. "That's not for me to say," he said.

His teammates, however, believe that Kaepernick's a gunslinger, or at least that he plays without fear like Favre. Several have raved about his composure Sunday in the deafening Superdome, especially the way he converted third-and-long situations.

Tight end Delanie Walker said Kaepernick isn't afraid to take risks. "That's just Kap being young, so he takes more chances," Walker said today. "Alex (Smith) is the more steady quarterback, controlling the offense, making sure we get another down. Kap, he will take a chance and go for the big play."

The statistics bear that out. Smith is in the midst of his best - and most aggressive - season. He's averaging 7.98 yards per attempt, the highest of his career. Kaepernick, on the other hand, averages 9.2 yards per attempt, which is by far the highest of any starting quarterback in the league, albeit he has only two starts under his belt.

Then there's this stat from ESPN: Kaepernick has six 30-plus yard pass plays on 74 attempts. Smith has six 30-plus yard plays on 217 attempts.

The Favre analogy also applies to Smith. Remember Urban Meyer's famous "non-functional quote" about Smith in 2005? Well, there was a bit more to what he said, including a reference to Favre.

"He is a guy that, however, until he understands it, he is non-functional," Meyer said of Smith. " He is a guy that, I keep hearing how Brett Favre kind of makes something out of nothing and is a person that runs around to make a play. Alex Smith is not that kind of player. "

That appears to be the biggest distinction between Kaepernick and Smith: The former is more dangerous than the latter. That danger, of course, has two sides. Favre is the NFL's all-time leader in touchdowns. He's also its all-time leader in interceptions.

- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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