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Colin Kaepernick to Start vs. Miami

Posted Dec 3, 2012

If you win, specific moments of triumph are highlighted, talked about nonstop. But when you lose, those very plays are disregarded and considered an afterthought like the outcome of the pregame coin-toss.

Colin Kaepernick did some very impressive things in Sunday’s 16-13 overtime loss in St. Louis, including a 50-yard scamper that led to what seemed to be the game-winning points, a 33-yard David Akers field goal.

However, those points were not the last to be scored, nor did they win the game.

Because the 49ers attempted a first-down pass that nearly went for a touchdown to Delanie Walker and ran out of bounds to stop the clock on third down, St. Louis was given enough time to tie the game with a 53-yard Greg Zuerlein field goal and send it into overtime, the 10th quarter of football played between the two NFC West rivals this season.

Kaepernick made mistakes on Sunday, two that directly led to 10 points for the Rams, but the young quarterback also did something far more important in the face of adversity – he responded, repeatedly.

Kaepernick led the 49ers on scoring drives following his safety and ill-advised option pitch pass that sailed over Ted Ginn Jr.’s head and into the arms of a St. Louis defender for an easy scoop-and-score touchdown.

The responses by San Francisco’s quarterback impressed the head coach, who liked how Kaepernick put his team “in a position to win.”

On Monday, Harbaugh insisted that Kaepernick would remain his starting quarterback for the fourth consecutive week when the Miami Dolphins visit Candlestick Park this Sunday.

He also took responsibility for not vetoing the option play call designed for the team’s return specialist to find the open space against a Rams defense that had been crowding interior running lanes. If given the opportunity to do it all over again, Harbaugh, who listens to the play calls as they go into the quarterback’s helmet, would have changed the play.

“It starts with me,” he said. “I should have not let the play be called.”

“Too much chance on the play to go sideways and backwards at that point of the game,” Harbaugh reasoned. “I take responsibility for that.”

Harbaugh liked the way Kaepernick and the 49ers offense performed in adverse moments in the game, especially on third down. The 49ers coach applauded the efforts of fourth-year wideout Michael Crabtree, who finished the game with a game-high seven receptions for 101 yards, his fifth, 100-yard receiving game of his career.

“Thought he played extremely tough, made some big catches for us,” Harbaugh said of his leading wideout.

Mario Manningham also supplied some early offense for the 49ers, but left the game with a shoulder injury in the fourth quarter. Harbaugh had no update on his wide receiver’s health, but Wednesday’s injury report should shed light on the severity of the injury.

Besides questions on health and playing time for various players, Harbaugh fielded inquiries on the status of kicker David Akers, the All-Pro specialist who failed to beat the Rams with an overtime field goal for the second time this season.

Harbaugh thought Akers’ 51-yard overtime attempt was well-hit. Simply put by Harbaugh, “it just didn’t go in.”

The 49ers coach expects Akers to be in the lineup against the Dolphins.

“He’s a professional,” Harbaugh said of his veteran kicker. “He’s been in every situation imaginable. He takes responsibility and knows he’s supposed to put it through the uprights.”

He also expects a better effort from his coaching staff, starting with himself.

“It’s accountability, taking responsibility,” Harbaugh explained. “We all looked at the fact that we didn’t win the game, we didn’t finish like we were supposed to.”

Even with uncharacteristic penalties and turnovers, Harbaugh was pleased with the resiliency shown by his young quarterback, who in his mind had a “winning quarterback performance in tough circumstances.”

Kaepernick also provided a game-high 84 rushing yards on nine carries, the most by a 49ers quarterback since Hall of Fame signal-caller Steve Young rushed for 102 yards on Dec. 23, 1990 vs. the New Orleans Saints.

The 49ers might add to Kaepernick’s running package in the coming weeks. Harbaugh discussed the possibility of utilizing second-round draft pick LaMichael James in the team’s read-option package. It wasn’t in the gameplan this week as evidenced by James being inactive for the 12th time this season, but it could be called on in the coming weeks.

Kaepernick, according to Harbaugh, comes into work after 6 each morning and is one of the first players in the building. The young quarterback was likely in the facility reviewing his first loss as a starting quarterback in the NFL.

“It’s a tough loss,” Harbaugh said. “That gut-wrenching feeling is still there.”

It’ll stick with the 49ers for the rest of Monday in all likelihood, but quickly be forgotten when the team gets back together on Tuesday. With four crucial games left on the schedule and a frantic finish to the regular season on tap to determine NFC playoff seeding, San Francisco’s attention has to quickly be turned to Miami.

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