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Kaepernick Growing with Experience


Perhaps one would think Randy Moss had seen everything by this stage of his Hall of Fame career. A few weeks ago, the veteran wideout found out what it's like to dislocate a finger because of a laser-like Colin Kaepernick throw.

Facing the New Orleans Saints in Week 13, Kaepernick tried to sneak a ball into a tight window for Moss, but the receiver couldn't hold on to it.

"He had to put one of them Randy Johnson fastballs on me," Moss said, adding it's the first time he's ever dislocated a finger on a pass. "When it hit my finger, I felt my finger pop. … It hurt, it hurt – it really did. Tried not to show any tears, I don't know if they caught me crying or not."

In a way, you could say Kaepernick was returning the favor to Moss and showing him something new. Moss has been a key mentor for Kaepernick throughout his first experience as a starting quarterback, showing him the ropes all year.

"Randy's a great guy, he's a great teammate," Kaepernick said. "He's someone that everybody should try to be like as far as in the locker room and how they are as a teammate."

Kaepernick's impressive arm was one reason why the 49ers moved up in the 2011 draft in order to select him. He's also got the mindset, moxie and mobility that make him one of the more unique talents in the NFL.

With every passing week, Kaepernick is also harvesting another important part of being an NFL quarterback: experience.

The second-year signal-caller will be making his fifth consecutive start on Sunday night at New England when the 49ers and Patriots do battle in front of a nationwide audience.

"It'll be a great challenge for us," Kaepernick said. "It's a great opportunity to go out and show what we're capable of."

When he's not under center, Kaepernick will be able to watch his counterpart, Tom Brady, who has established himself as one of the game's all-time greats. Kaepernick was still in grade school when Brady entered the NFL in 2000, giving Kaepernick plenty of time to take notes on Brady's approach.

"What he does mentally with the game," Kaepernick said of the biggest learning points he can take from Brady. "He knows exactly what he wants to do versus every look a defense is going to give him."

Kaepernick also has the benefit of another quality quarterback in his corner, fellow 49ers signal-caller Alex Smith. Since Kaepernick took over the starting duties in Week 11, Smith has been a fixture on the sidelines next to Kaepernick, breaking down game images and giving advice.

"He's been great," Kaepernick said. "He's helped me with everything I've asked. Even on the sideline he's going over looks with me making sure I'm seeing everything."

Kaepernick has led the 49ers to a 3-1 record as a starter, while posting a 68.9 completion percentage, 216.8 yards per game, three touchdowns and one interception. He's also added 174 rushing yards on 25 carries.

Along the way, he's earned the respect and support of his teammates in the huddle.

"Kap's been doing a great job controlling the offense and putting us in situations to win the game and making the right plays when he needs to," veteran tight end Delanie Walker said. "I feel like he's getting comfortable week-by-week and he's just going to keep getting comfortable as the season goes."

Walker is well-aware of the Patriots and their top-ranked offense, saying it's paramount for the 49ers to control the time of possession and keep Brady off the field. New England currently ranks first in scoring (36.3 yards per game) and total offense (425.7 yards per game).

Another wrinkle that makes the Patriots so tough to defend is their ability to run a fast-paced, no-huddle offense which often tires out opposing defenses.

"It's very good," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "They've got a good system for it and they do a real good job with it. Can't think of another team that's better at it."

Walker said San Francisco's priority will be to establish the run game early and make plays in the air when called upon. It's a good thing the 49ers enter Sunday's contest with the NFL's second-best rushing attack, averaging 161.5 yards per game behind featured back Frank Gore.

"This is going to be a good measuring stick for us," Walker said. "This is a team that we've got to beat. They're one of the top teams in the NFL, so if we can get them we know we're an elite team."


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