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Kaepernick Delivers, 49ers Win 32-7

Posted Nov 19, 2012

No fear.

That’s how Colin Kaepernick approached his first career start in a San Francisco 49ers uniform, one that took place in front of a national television audience, no less.

With Alex Smith ruled out early Monday morning, still feeling the effects from a concussion suffered on Nov. 11, Kaepernick stepped up in a big way against one of the best defenses in the National Football League.

The second-year quarterback led the 49ers on four consecutive first-half scoring drives on their way to beating the visiting Chicago Bears 32-7 on “Monday Night Football.”

Not only was it a statement win in a matchup of two NFC title contenders, it was an impressive performance by San Francisco’s 2011 second-round draft pick.

“Kaepernick is a baller,” said wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who caught one of Kaepernick’s two touchdown passes on the day. “That boy can play football. I’m not worried about Colin. We’ve got quarterbacks, man.”

After improving to 3-0 all-time as a coach on Monday night games and 7-2-1 on the season, Jim Harbaugh echoed Crabtree’s comments on San Francisco’s talented pair of quarterbacks.

“We’ve got two quarterbacks who have a hot hand,” the 49ers coach said after Kaepernick completed 16 of 23 passes for 243 yards to go with two touchdown passes and a 133.1 quarterback rating.

It’s not known when Smith will be cleared for contact, but Harbaugh pointed out he tends to go with the “guy who has the hot hand.”

The question of who starts next will linger into the week, but as of Monday night, Kaepernick’s long-armed play-making ability might be the hottest of all.

“Colin is the man!” tight end Vernon Davis said to start his postgame press conference. “I’m very proud of him. He stepped up today. He did some great things to help us win this game.”

Harbaugh, too, raved about Kaepernick’s poise in the pocket (sacked just once on the night) and ability to be accurate down the field. Five of Kaepernick’s 16 completions went for 20-or-more yards.

“Everything he did was exemplary,” the 49ers coach said.

It started from the jump, too.

While Kaepernick led San Francisco on numerous first-half scoring drives, Jason Campbell struggled to get things going for the Bears. Chicago’s backup didn’t fare as well as his counterpart, as both were making their first starts of the year.

Kaepernick completed his first career touchdown pass early in the game, completing a 3-yard strike to Davis to give San Francisco a 10-0 lead.

"Our offense is our offense and we're going to run it," Kaepernick said, downplaying if Greg Roman's play-calling changed to accentuate the athletic quarterback's playmaking ability.

Davis was pleased to get back in the end zone, but more so was in awe over Kaepernick’s fearlessness in a tough situation.

“He’s a playmaker,” Davis said of the young signal caller. “That’s what the kid is, he’s a playmaker. The kid has a bright future.”

The Bears couldn’t match the 49ers production with Kaepernick under center in the game’s opening 30 minutes. As a result, Chicago punted four times and Campbell was picked off by cornerback Tarell Brown on its way to finding trailing by 20 points at the half.

“Tremendous effort by our defense,” Harbaugh said on a night where the Bears were held out of the end zone for three quarters and were intercepted twice (Brown and Dashon Goldson). “Aldon Smith, huge night.”

Smith recorded 5.5 sacks mostly against Chicago left tackle J’Marcus Webb. It was a career-high for the second-year linebacker, who totaled 3.0 sacks of Campbell in the first half alone.

With Smith causing constant pressure and the 49ers playing stout against Matt Forte and Chicago’s running game (28 rushes for 85 yards, 3.0 yards per carry), the Bears totaled 35 yards in the first half compared to 249 from the visiting team.

By game’s end, Chicago finished with 12 first downs, 143 net yards and seven points on a late 13-yard Campbell touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall.

The Bears big-game wideout was held to two catches for 21 yards and didn’t record his first reception until the third quarter. Matt Forte, Chicago’s other well-known playmaker, rushed 21 times for 63 yards and caught three passes for four yards.

The 49ers, on the other hand, had no trouble getting the ball to playmakers with Kaepernick under center. Crabtree finished the game with three catches for 31 yards including a 10-yard touchdown reception.

San Francisco’s leading receiver was none other than its tight end Davis, who finished the game with a game-high six catches for 83 yards.

Davis was more than pleased with the effort considering he’d been held in check in recent games.

“I felt like someone took the handcuffs off,” Davis said with a grin.

San Francisco continued to apply pressure in the second half even with a 20-point advantage. After a 37-yard completion to Mario Manningham, Kaepernick found Crabtree running open in the back left corner of the end zone to make it s 17-0 game.

“It was fun to get a win on Monday night,” Crabtree said. “It was a great team win. Everybody was making plays.”

The fourth-year wideout continued to shine on the league’s brightest regular season stage.

The 10-yard score was Crabtree’s fourth touchdown catch in his past three games. It also gave the emerging wideout his fifth touchdown catch in six career Monday night appearances.

Although the Bears got on the scoreboard late, the points couldn’t sour a statement victory for the 49ers.

“This means a lot to us,” Davis said. “It send a message: We are for real.”

The message on future starting quarterback isn’t as clear, but the key point is that the 49ers feel great about their depth at the position.

As for who starts next week in New Orleans, that remains to be seen.

“I don’t know, that’s up to the coaches,” Davis said. “That’s their decision… I won’t choose sides. I’m there to support either of them.”

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