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September 8, 2013
Kaepernick to Packers: I can do more than run


SAN FRANCISCO - Colin Kaepernick, who smashed rushing records the last time he faced the Packers, spent Sunday's rematch smashing myths about him and the 49ers offense.

Myth No. 1: Kaepernick is solely a running quarterback.

He gained an NFL-record 181 yards on the ground against Green Bay eight months ago in the playoffs, and the Packers made it a priority to make sure that didn't happen again on Sunday. Kaepernick picked up only 22 yards with his feet in the 34-28 win, but he had 412 yards - easily the most prolific outing of his NFL career - with 208 of them going to new receiver Anquan Boldin.

The passing yards were the most for a 49ers quarterback since Tim Rattay threw for 417 yards in 2004 . It was the first time Kaepenick surpassed the 400-yard mark since he had 402 yards as a freshman at Nevada.

Myth No. 2: Kaepernick has no rapport with tight end Vernon Davis.

Former 49ers receiver Randy Moss, who is now a FOX analyst, delivered that premise in the lead-up to the game. During last year's regular season, it might have been true. With Kaepernick as his quarterback, Davis went through a six-game stretch in which he caught just six passes for 61 yards.

But the two began to heat up in the playoffs, and their chemistry carried into Sunday. Davis finished with six catches for 98 yards and caught two of Kaepernick's three touchdown passes. "Like I tell everyone, we had all that time in the offseason to build chemistry and just get to know each other," Davis said. "When you've got a quarterback, the receiver's job is to develop that relationship."

Myth No. 3: Kaepernick can be rattled.

The Packers dedicated their offseason to figuring out how to thwart the read-option runs that proved fatal to them in their playoff loss. Last week, they took it a step further by saying that they planned to hit Kaepernick any time they could on read-option plays - whether he had the ball or not.

The chief spokesman for that approach was linebacker Clay Matthews. He was involved in the most scrutinized play of the day when, on third-and-six in the second quarter, Kaepernick ran out of bounds two yards short of the first-down marker but Matthews flung him to the ground anyway.

Matthews was flagged for a late hit, but it also triggered a brief melee on the sideline that resulted in left tackle Joe Staley being penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct. The officials ruled that the penalties offset and they replayed third down.

On the next play, Kaepernick hit Boldin on a short slant pattern, and the receiver ran into the end zone for a 14-7 San Francisco lead. Following the game, however, the officials admitted they made a mistake. Because the offsetting penalties occurred after Kaepernick went out of bounds, the next play should have been fourth and six not third and six. Under that scenario the 49ers surely would have gone for a chip-shot field goal and a three-point lead.

To hear Jim Harbaugh tell it, however, the gift from the officials was karmic justice.

While Matthews' penalty was flagrant, Harbaugh said he didn't think Staley did anything wrong in engaging Matthews on the sideline. "Joe did what we coach him to do: when someone takes a cheap shot ... we teach him to lock up," Harbaugh said. "He did that and Matthews throws two punches at him."

The Packers weren't finished trying to get inside Kaepernick's head. At the end of every play, the 49ers quarterback found a Packers defender in his ear. After Matthews sacked him in the third quarter, for instance, the linebacker barked a few words at Kaepernick, which prompted Harbaugh to scream for a taunting penalty.

Kaepernick, however, would not engage. The only yelling and screaming from him, in fact, was delivered inside his own huddle.

Asked if Kaepernick thanked him for backing him up following Matthews' late hit, a smiling Staley shook his head. "No, he actually yelled at me," Staley said. "... He's got a lot more composure than his left tackle."

Said Boldin, who finished with the second-most receiving yards of his career: "I keep telling people how good of a quarterback he is. Everybody looks at how athletic he is and say he's a running quarterback. He's a quarterback first. Being able to run is just a bonus for him."

-- 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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