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Kaepernick, 49ers Bounce Back

Posted Dec 9, 2012

Colin Kaepernick tied a franchise record, the very same one he set just one week prior.

This mark, however, had much more meaning to it and led to a desired result.

Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers second-year quarterback, now has two, 50-yard runs – the longest carries by a quarterback in team history.

Kaepernick’s 50-yard touchdown run on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins was also the longest touchdown run by a quarterback in team history.

Not only did Kaepernick’s big run finalize Sunday’s 27-13 win over the Miami Dolphins, it showed just how talented and poised San Francisco’s young quarterback could be in the face of adversity.

The 49ers converted just 2-of-10 third-down conversions on the day and Kaepernick was sacked four times, three of which came in the first half.

It all added up to a teaching lesson for the young quarterback to persevere through.

The early struggles didn’t matter in the long run. Not when Kaepernick showed his comfort in a trying circumstance. In doing so, the second-year quarterback’s comfort level was the exact opposite of himself running free on the 50-yard scoring play in the open field.

“I guess you could say it’s slowing down,” said Kaepernick, who is now 3-1 as a starter and 2-0 at Candlestick Park.

Kaepernick finished the game completing 18 of 23 passes for 185 yards and a quarterback rating of 100.2. Kaepernick now has a 100-plus rating in two of his four starts.

The quarterback’s big run also gave Kaepernick his fifth rushing score on the year, the most by a 49ers quarterback since Jeff Garcia had five rushing scores in 2001.

When looking at the totality of Kaepernick’s efforts, there was much more to his play than running the football successfully on designed zone-read plays.

Jim Harbaugh rattled off a number of impressive qualities from the young signal-caller’s performance against Miami.

“Kaepernick did a great job of throwing the ball away,” Harbaugh said, pointing out a throw away to close out the first half that led to a 37-yard David Akers field goal and a 6-3 49ers halftime lead.

“His ball security was better in the pocket,” the 49ers coach explained.

Kaepernick was sacked four times on Sunday, three times in the first half alone by Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake. The 49ers quarterback fumbled once, but was recovered by his own team. Even with the occasional struggles in the first half, Harbaugh wasn’t deterred from sticking with his young quarterback.

“I thought he managed the game well,” Harbaugh said. “He did a good job.”

So what was it in particular?

“He made some big-time throws, ran the offense, did a good job of running the ball and his reads were good for the most part,” Harbaugh said.

Many of the big-time throws went to fourth-year wideout Michael Crabtree. The team’s leading wideout did not get in the end zone for a third-straight game at Candlestick, but he did provide a game-high nine receptions, giving him 16 in the past two weeks.

In the running department, Kaepernick produced the game’s longest play from scrimmage, the 50-yard touchdown scamper. He also worked well with rookie running back LaMichael James, active for the first time in his NFL career.

Both speedsters provided the 49ers offense with several key plays thanks to zone-read plays called by offensive coordinator Greg Roman.

“I think it’s something we’re very comfortable with,” said Kaepernick, who ran a similar offense in college, as did James.

James picked up 30 yards on eight carries and added a 15-yard reception. The chemistry between the two was strong; it made up for a less than spectacular first half where San Francisco totaled 6 points.

“We just had a few bad third downs,” Kaepernick explained. “We knew we had a good gameplan. We knew we had good pays, just had to execute them.”

The 49ers executed even more of the zone-reads in the second half. Not only did it make Miami’s defense over-commit, it opened up a slew of potential big plays. San Francisco nearly connected on misdirection, flea flicker intended to Randy Moss 50 yards down the field in the end zone, but a well-time pass breakup by Dolphins cornerback R.J. Sanford stopped any such chance.

Besides the near big passing play, Moss caught two passes for 30 yards, a sign he’s in tune with the young quarterback who continues to be more comfortable as a starter.

Teammates on the other side of the ball appreciate Kaepernick’s development, but more importantly, they enjoy the swagger he brings to the game.

Defensive co-captain Patrick Willis said poise was the biggest takeaway from Kaepernick’s performance.

“I think he’s doing a great job and is only going to get better,” Willis said.

Kaepernick stood tall in the face adversity on Sunday and in some cases blew past it.

When Miami connected on 53-yard field goal to make it a one-touchdown game, Kaepernick stiffened up and led the 49ers on a 13-play, 83-yard scoring drive capped by a 1-yard Anthony Dixon touchdown run.

Kaepernick and the 49ers offense melted 7:26 off the clock and got the ball to five different play-makers in what seemed like the biggest drive of the game.

The Dolphins, however, responded with their only touchdown of the game to stay within one score. Even when that happened, Kaepernick remained focused on the task at hand.

He calmly led the 49ers to midfield, ran the zone-read fake to Gore and dashed down the home sideline for an easy game-deciding touchdown.

Not bad for a young quarterback who continues to establish himself on a Super Bowl-contending team.

“He’s a great player and a great leader to have out there,” guard Alex Boone said.

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