But by the end of the Sunday’s 49ers win over the Green Bay Packers, it was clear that the young signal-caller’s throwing arm was the topic of discussion.
Kaepernick completed 27 of 39 passes against a determined Packers defense looking to avenge last year's postseason defeat to the 49ers. He finished the game with a career-high 412 yards in a 34-28 comeback win to open the 2013 season.
It was also the franchise record for most passing yards in a season opener and 11th-most passing yards in any game. The previous Week 1 record was held by another mobile passer, Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young, who passed for 363 yards against the New York Jets on Sept. 6, 1998.
PHOTO GALLERY: 49ERS V. PACKERS
Kaepernick also posted a 129.4 quarterback rating in his first regular season start on Opening Day.
“Really special performance by him,” Jim Harbaugh said, pointing out Kaepernick’s ability play with poise in the chaotic moments of a back-and-forth game. “He had some laser-like throws, some downfield with accuracy.”
Kaepernick’s best throw, however, was his most clutch pass of the game.
With San Francisco leading by three points late in the fourth quarter and facing a 4th-and-2, Kaepernick rolled out of the pocket and extended the play long enough to improvise and complete a 15-yard pass to Boldin.
Harbaugh thought that moment summed up Kaepernick’s brilliant outing.
“He kept the play alive, just as cool as he could be,” Harbaugh said.
The 49ers later added, “Colin Kaepernick throws as good or better as anyone I’ve ever seen on the run.”
San Francisco’s third-year passer also had a clean pocket to throw from for most of the day. Although he was sacked twice, Kaepernick was in command of the offense and had the 49ers in the driver's seat for most of the game.
When the Packers took their first lead of the game midway through the fourth quarter, Kaepernick led the 49ers on a 5-play, 80-yard scoring drive. It took just 2:39 off the clock.
“It was just awesome to see him go out and lead us from game one,” safety
Whitner also said he had high goals for Kaepernick in his first year as a full-time starter.
“I personally expect him to go 4,000 (passing yards), 1,000 (rushing yards,” the hard-hitting safety said. “He can do it.”
Kaepernick only rushed seven times for 22 yards. The low rushing output, however, was a concentrated effort on the 49ers part.
With all the attention centered on how Green Bay would stop Kaepernick’s running ability, they couldn’t account for his pinpoint passes.
All the talk about hitting Kaepernick on read-option run plays was a moot point. Kaepernick hardly ran the pistol run plays. Instead, he threw with high accuracy from the formation.
When Kaepernick scrambled to buy time, he wisely slid down in front of Packers defenders.
The only time he was hit hard, was hit out of bounds illegally by Clay Matthews, the same player who was outspoken in the media all week about applying hits on the 49ers quarterback.
Kaepernick had a smile on his face when Matthews’ name was brought up in his postgame media session.
Did the two interact during the game? “We talked to each other a lot today,” Kaepernick said with a smirk.
Kaepernick later added, “If intimidation is your game plan, I hope you have a better one.”