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Kaepernick Presents 'Big Challenge' for Texans

Posted Oct 2, 2013

One week after struggling to contain Russell Wilson, Houston will be challenged to limit the 49ers quarterback.

Every week until at least the end of December, one NFL team will be tasked with answering this question: How do you keep Colin Kaepernick in the pocket?

Like its peers, the Houston Texans – the 49ers Week 5 visitors to Candlestick Park on Sunday night – have been working on a response since the offseason.

“We tried to install things for training camp,” Texans coach Gary Kubiak said Tuesday. “Obviously we’re not a read-option football team, but it was part of our installation offensively so we could help our defense prepare for the season and work on it throughout the course of camp.”

Houston has enjoyed mixed results. In Week 4, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, like Kaepernick a fleet-of-foot signal-caller, rushed for a season-high 77 yards on 10 carries. Kubiak’s defense, coordinated by longtime play-caller Wade Phillips, had given up 28 yards rushing combined to Phillip Rivers (San Diego Chargers), Jake Locker (Tennessee Titans) and Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens) in its first three games of 2013.

“Playing two mobile quarterbacks back to back definitely gives you a good look at it,” said Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, who has recorded 3.5 sacks so far after racking up 20.5 a season ago.

Whether or not Watt brings down Kaepernick in the backfield may not determine his effectiveness on Sunday. Given the length of his Justin Smith-like 6-foot-5, 289-pound frame, he’s proved to wreak as much havoc by simply stretching his arms and swatting away passes. His 16 “passes defensed” in 2012 set the league’s single-season record for defensive linemen.

READ: WATT THE NEXT JUSTIN SMITH?

“If he doesn’t feel like he’s going to get to the quarterback, he’s going to jump up and try to block a pass, try to make a play any way he can,” the 6-foot-4 Kaepernick, who has 140 rushing yards on 26 attempts, said of Watt. “He’s a great effort player. He’s going to try to make a play whenever he’s on the field any chance he gets… That’s not something you can worry about as a quarterback. You have to let the offensive line handle that, make sure they get their hands on them.”

This is something the Seahawks were able to accomplish at times thanks to the technique Kubiak and Phillips preach. Most specifically: Defensive backs must be disciplined in their coverage of pass-catchers and defensive lineman must stay disciplined in their rush lanes once a quarterback like Kaepernick is on the move.

“I think there are some differences though in how they go about doing it,” added Kubiak, comparing the 49ers and Seahawks rushing attacks from under center. “Obviously there is some scheme, some zone-read scheme that is similar that you’re trying to prepare for, but you’ve got to do with a lot of interesting personnel – two tight (ends), three tights. I think it’s a totally new challenge.

“It’s a big, big challenge. Colin is a hell of a player, got a big, big arm, capable of making plays down the field.”


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