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TNDZ x Kaepernicking x Superman x Playoffs

Posted Jan 9, 2014

Debut column of "The No Drag Zone" on Niners 365 opens with a look at the significance of Colin Kaepernick and Cam Newton's signature celebrations.

Me: Who has the better signature celebration between Colin Kaepernick and Cam Newton?
Quinton Patton: Kap, DUH! … DUH!  … You already know!

It was an obvious response. I wasn’t exactly looking for a contrarian view from our fourth-round draft pick. Patton is tight with his quarterback and rightfully so. But the comparison between the two quarterbacks for Sunday’s NFC Divisional Playoff was made in good fun.

It’s a storyline that won’t be written about unless either the 49ers or Panthers quarterback showcase their pension for style points come Sunday. Whoever does their celebration most will likely be in the winner’s circle, advancing to the NFC title game. The celebration talk is brought up because this is the launch of a new venture on Niners 365, the lifestyle blog of the San Francisco 49ers.

This is “The No Drag Zone.” Each week we’ll share the most talked about aspects of the Niners, not just the low-hanging fruit. The highlights of 49ers.com, 49ers Studios and social media can be found in the confines of this post.

Now back to the quarterbacks. Both came out in the 2011 NFL Draft. Newton was the first pick. Kaepernick was pick No. 36. Ever since April 28, 2011, both players have worked hard to become two of the most electrifying players in the league. When they score rushing touchdowns, each has found a way to demonstrate their personalities. Kaepernick kisses the biceps on his throwing arm, specifically the one that reads “My gift is my curse.”

Newton, on the other hand, stepped into the league showcasing his fascination with the "Man of Steel." Newton even wears Superman socks and cleats during pregame warmups. When the Panthers quarterback scores, both arms pretend to pull back his uniform, as if there was a Superman logo underneath his No. 1 jersey.

Truth be told, both celebrations are clever. They also earn tons of imitators. When the 49ers and Panthers faced each other in Week 10, Ahmad Brooks, who has never demonstrated a sack dance in his eight-year career, sacked Newton and proceeded to do Newton’s Superman routine. Later in the game, Panthers safety Mike Mitchell blitzed Kaepernick, sacked the 49ers quarterback and accentuated the key defensive play with a swift kiss to the biceps.

I wondered, is it wrong to steal someone else’s signature move? Listening to Patton talk about it, I guess it’s not that big of a deal.

“It’s actually kind of funny,” said Patton, who doesn’t want to see any Carolina players using Kaepernick’s celebration this weekend. “You know they’re probably going to do something different to it... There’s usually a little twist.”

Kaepernick and Newton are set to renew what figures to be a budding rivalry between two quarterbacks made to succeed in the speed-hungry future of professional football.

Let’s all enjoy what they offer to the game, even if it means a celebratory demonstration that revs up their respective fan bases.

- Guest Author x @robert_alberino -

Each week TNDZ will ask a guest author to share insight on their respective roles with the 49ers. First up, 49ers Studios Executive Producer Robert Alberino Jr. explains what it was like to work in 3-degree temperature last week in Wisconsin. He’s also my boss. So definitely a good person to lead this guest-writing venture.

That was hands down the coldest game I’ve ever been to. I’ve covered a playoff game in Minnesota, in the dome, and I remember getting off the bus in five to eight inches of snow in Minnesota and the wind was blowing down the Minneapolis streets. That wasn’t as cold as it was in Green Bay.  Not only do I think the Packers game ranked as the coldest game I’ve covered, I think it ranks as the most challenging weather game I’ve ever been to – rain, snow, heat – you name it. This game was a tough one.

I was more concerned about our equipment than I was about myself, because we’re using the latest and greatest Sony 4K cameras. I didn’t know if they would hold up, but they did. I was also looking out for my crew. I had the luxury of shooting from a camera suite with walls on each side of me in an open-faced booth. The tough part was the wind whipping into the room, but I sympathized with my producers on the field. I felt really bad for the dudes.

The weather took a toll on everyone involved in the game, equipment staff, trainers, coaches and the players. I felt the cold throughout the game, but you’re so involved in shooting the action that you don’t dwell on it. I knew the bitter cold was a reality after the game once we sat down on the team charter. This was after the euphoria of the win and after everyone had packed up the gear from Lambeau. When we sat down on the plane, both the front and back doors were open and it was like a freezing wind tunnel. I remember literally saying, “We have to shut these doors… It’s over. We’re done fighting the cold.”

- Two-Minute Drill x @kassimosgood81 -

A two-minute interview can sometimes be as good as a 20-minute in-depth sit-down. I caught up with special teams savage Kassim Osgood to get his perspective on his first season with the Niners, plus his take on how San Francisco can beat Carolina in the kicking game.

NINERS365: Did you expect having this much fun with the Niners this year?
OSGOOD: I knew I was going to have a lot of fun here from the people I knew prior to coming here. Just being on the team and seeing how hard everybody works, it’s been a lot of fun.

NINERS365: You saw the reputation of the “Tony Montana Squad” from afar, but what has it been like creating a new identity with this year’s special teams group with the likes of Bubba Ventrone and C.J. Spillman?
OSGOOD: It’s been tons of fun. Bubba and I were talking about that the other day. All the years we were going against each other we would tease each other and talk trash. But it was always good natured. I never said anything derogatory or was angry towards him. It was the same way with Anthony Dixon. To be able to be on a team with all those guys, it’s been tons of fun. And Phil Dawson is an awesome kicker. I’ve always had tons of respect for him and what he’s doing. Andy Lee as well. It’s great to be on a team with those guys and Coach Brady Seely. He’s coached against me in the AFC Championship game, I knew what he was capable of putting together. It’s been great to be on the same side with those guys now.

NINERS365: It’s almost like a music collaboration where a bunch of musicians from other bands get together to form a super group.
OSGOOD: Yeah, it’s like that definitely.

NINERS365: What would you say is the biggest key to this week’s game against Carolina from a special teams perspective?
OSGOOD: Coverage units containing Teddy Gin. And then for our return teams, going out there and solidifying some great blocking to allow LaMichael James to do his thing. He’s been on fire lately. It would be great to have him bust loose on a return.

- Fun with Graphics -

The 49ers Creative Service team crushes it each week in our Infographic series (#INFOGFX49) and on all the #QuestForSix imagery you see on your timelines. Here’s their take on a Jim Harbaugh quote on Kaepernick following the 49ers win over the Packers: “He’s someone that answers in the clutch time of the game, on the important down. He’s Kaepernick-tough and I think it’s pretty awesome.” Coach will probably think this graphic is pretty awesome, too.

- Favorite Tweet x #49ers Roster -

The 49ers have 53 players on the roster and an 8-man practice squad. Those characters in the locker room certainly know how to express themselves in 140 characters or less. Let’s enjoy their best tweets of the week.

- Recommended Viewing -

Watch these videos. Why? Because the people who edited them stayed late in the office each day to make them for you.

- Insta Moment -

Instagram moments are too good to pass up. You have to love it when a practice squad quarterback (McLeod Bethel-Thompson) is called out by a practice squad offensive lineman (Al Netter) for rocking a Discman in 2014.

-Stats Don't Lie -

Every week our public relations staff produces a stat book that touches on the latest and greatest numbers for our team. There’s always one each week that makes your head snap back and say, “Wow!” Here’s the digit that had me in awe this week...


With 32 carries for 362 yards in his postseason career, Kaepernick has averaged 11.3 yards per carry, which is the highest average in NFL postseason history among all players with at least 30 rushing attempts. The next closest is Michael Vick (7.3 avg.).

- Parting Shot -

Hope everyone enjoyed the first TNDZ. It’s been a highly entertaining season so far and this week’s matchup in Carolina only figures to add to the remarkable ride. We went to London, closed out Candlestick (for now) with NaVorro Bowman’s 89-yard interception return for a touchdown and now we have a chance to win the franchise’s first back-to-back road games in the same postseason. Will it happen? Who knows. The Panthers are a really good team. But if you had to ask me for my prediction, which I’m sure you are waiting for at this point, I’m taking the Niners to win 27-24.