NEW ORLEANS – The stage never seems to be too big or too bright for
The second-year quarterback has faced two of the toughest situations a young quarterback can face in back-to-back weeks and has passed each examination with flying colors.
Last week, Kaepernick led the San Francisco 49ers to a lopsided win over the respected Chicago Bears defense on “Monday Night Football.” This week, he followed it up Sunday with a 31-21 road victory over the New Orleans Saints.
The sample size might be small, but it’s done wonders to an already self-assured player.
“It makes you that much more confident, especially when you get two wins against two great teams,” said Kaepernick, who has completed 66.7 percent of his passes and averaged 237.0 yards per start. “Moving forward, I'll have great confidence no matter what happens.”
The self-belief is also noticed by teammates.
Kaepernick is now 2-0 as the 49ers starter, but has not been declared the full-time starter by Jim Harbaugh.
That decision will have to wait.
“I'm just trying to take the same approach that I've been taking,” said the second-year player who ran for a 7-yard touchdown and completed a 6-yard touchdown pass to
If the 49ers coach continues to stick with his “hot-hand” approach, the second-round draft pick of the 2011 draft might be hard to overlook now that he’s played solid football in consecutive weeks.
Harbaugh wants to review the game film before making a decision. Plus,
“Obviously I want to play, I want to start,” Smith said after the game. “I think I should, but it’s not my decision. I’m also part of this team and it was great to get a win. That comes first.”
The timetable for Harbaugh’s decision is not known. For now, the 49ers can take pride in taking care of business in a must-win game for the Saints who now fall to 5-6 on the season and face an uphill climb to make it back into the playoffs.
The 49ers got the Saints best shot and handled it.
Perhaps the biggest indication of Kaepernick’s steady demeanor came in the form of a near 10-minute drive that led to a 27-yard field goal from
Kaepernick engineered a 16-play scoring drive that took 9:28 off the clock, good for the fourth-longest scoring drive in the league this season.
“Our offense made plays when we had to and had a nice drive in the second half,” left tackle
It also seemed to take the life out of a high-powered Saints offense.
But more so than making plays or managing the game in a way that helped the 49ers get into plays much quicker, Kaepernick demonstrated his natural athleticism and playmaking ability.
The 49ers quarterback was not sacked on the day, though he did elude pressure several times in the pocket. It was the first time the 49ers offensive line posted a sack-free game since a Week 5 drubbing of the Buffalo Bills.
“That's what we ran in college,” Kaepernick said of his fourth touchdown run on the year, second most on the best running attack in the National Football League. “That was like half of our offense. I think it's really just getting comfortable with it, as far as what the defense is doing, when you want to pull it and when you want to give it.”
Harbaugh said the ability to run the zone-read offense is something Kaepernick has a special knack for doing.
The quarterback, however, said it’s more to than his initial read of the defensive end.
“That was one where we got great blocks all around,” Kaepernick said. “They made room for me to get in.”
It’s not known if the 49ers will make room for Kaepernick to be the long-term starter at the position. Harbaugh told Kaepernick, his first offensive draft pick, that he’d start against the Saints the night before the game in the team’s pregame meeting.
What he tells the young quarterback this week remains to be seen.
Outsiders might look at the 49ers quarterback situation as a difficult call with two talented players to choose from. Insiders see it much differently.
“It’s not weird for us,” fullback
Gore echoed the feelings of his lead-blocker.
“It doesn’t matter who we have back there, both of them can play football,” Gore said of the team’s top two quarterbacks. “We go with whoever. We’re behind both of them. Both of them play good football, that’s a plus for our team.”
As for Kaepernick specifically, San Francisco’s all-time leading rusher had nothing but rave reviews.