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Kaepernick Moves on to Seattle

Posted Dec 19, 2012

Excited as he was about winning his first NFC Offensive Player of the Week award for his four touchdown passes against the New England Patriots last week, Colin Kaepernick has already turned the page.

“I think it's a great accolade for this team,” said the San Francisco 49ers quarterback who joined Tom Brady and Peyton Manning as the only players to throw four touchdown passes in the history of Gillette Stadium. “I mean, there are a lot of great players on this team that put in the effort for that award to come around.”

Other than that, the 49ers quarterback with five starts under his belt and one loss in those outings, is moving on to more important things.

The Seattle Seahawks come to mind. Yes, the team that needs a victory to keep NFC West title hopes alive.

If Kaepernick and the 49ers can beat their division rivals on the road this Sunday night in a second consecutive primetime game and sixth of the season, San Francisco will be division champs for back-to-back seasons.

With so much on the line, the second-year quarterback’s focus has immediately turned towards the Pacific Northwest.

“I mean, it isn't going to mean too much if we don't come out and win this week,” the 49ers quarterback said of his NFC weekly honor. “That's what we're focused on right now.”

Kaepernick’s head coach, unsurprisingly, has turned the page as quickly as possible.

Primetime cameras and a national spotlight won’t mean much to Jim Harbaugh. To him, every week is unique in its magnitude.

“I think it’s always a big, emotional game every single week,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve always taken that approach that the next game is the biggest game at least of the season.”

But even with that one-game-at-a-time approach, the 49ers have still found themselves not winning more than two consecutive games at any point this season.

The 49ers enter Sunday night with two straight wins over Miami and New England.

It’s not something Harbaugh has lost any sleep over, however.

“Probably quite a few teams that would want that pattern,” he said. “We’d like to break that this week, yeah.”

Kaepernick, just like all the 49ers, has not won three straight games this season. He, too, has fallen into the pattern. In his five starts, the 49ers won two, lost one, have now won two straight.

Winning a third straight game in Seattle remains a difficult task. Known for one of the loudest homefield environments in the league today, Kaepernick must prepare a tough road test.

“The Seahawks are hot team right now,” Kaepernick admitted. “Their defense is playing great. Their offense is putting up points. So we have to be ready.”

Seattle is coming off two, 50-point performances in recent weeks, becoming the first team in the NFL to score consecutive 50-point games since 1950.

The Seahawks are also 6-0 at home under the guidance of rookie passer Russell Wilson.

Kaepernick is well aware of his opponent’s strong play, but doesn’t want to look too far down the line in terms of a potential rivalry with Seattle’s young signal-caller.

“He'll be my adversary Sunday night,” Kaepernick said when asked if it could become a rivalry that could last decades. “That's what we're worried about.”

That, and Seattle’s opportunistic defense. The Seahawks secondary returned two touchdowns for scores last week. Richard Sherman provided a 19-yard interception return, while safety Earl Thomas ran back a 57-yard interception for a touchdown in a lopsided win over the Buffalo Bills.

The 49ers expect another physical matchup with the Seahawks, not just in the trenches.

After facing the physical corners Seattle possesses on defense (note: Brandon Browner is serving a four-game suspension), San Francisco expects a challenging matchup outside the hashmarks, not just in between them.

“Our receivers are going to be physical,” Kaepernick said. “Be physical in their routes, be physical in their blocking.”

That physicality was definitely evident last week from leading wideout Michael Crabtree, who supplied two receiving touchdowns in the team’s first win in New England since 1992.

Crabtree led the way with seven receptions for 107 yards and two scores, but Kaepernick admitted he’s working behind the scenes to develop a similar on-field rapport with tight end Vernon Davis.

“I can think of a couple things in particular where Vernon and Colin spent some time on certain routes extra during and after practice, and that helped,” Harbaugh said. “And I think there’ll be some more focus on that this week.”
Kaepernick overthrew his tight end at times last week, even on a couple of end zone throws, but believes the experience will only help the tandem.

“We're making progress because we're getting those throws after practice,” he said.

Meanwhile, San Francisco’s other tight end has flourished in recent weeks. Delanie Walker caught a 34-yard touchdown pass from Kaepernick and has been more involved in the passing game in recent weeks.

“I think Colin is doing a great job of finding the open guys,” Walker stressed, downplaying the notion that attention on Davis has freed up openings for himself. “If they're double-teaming Vernon and leaving me wide open, Colin is doing a great job of finding that. Even Randy Moss or Michael Crabtree or check-downs to the back. I think Colin is making the right reads and finding the open guy.”
On the road once more and in one of the loudest outdoor stadiums around to boot, Kaepernick will be tested in a crucial game.

Walker, however, likes the poise he sees from his young quarterback and knows he can perform in tough situations.
“I think he can handle it,” Walker said confidently. “He played in New Orleans and that was pretty loud and he did a great job there. I'm confident that he's going to do the same thing in Seattle.”

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