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Kaepernick Preps for First Playoff Action


The game program might have Colin Kaepernick listed as a second-year player, but in his mind, he's got way more experience than that.

In fact, he goes all the way back to the beginning of his football days as an eight-year-old in Turlock, Calif., when discussing his career. So when people ask him if he's got nerves heading into his first postseason start, Kaepernick's answer is simple.


"I think it's because I've been playing football for so long," Kaepernick said. "I think I've said before, this is my 17th year of football. So, football is football once you get on the field."

Growing up, Kaepernick was admittedly a Packers fan, but he'll be throwing those childhood allegiances aside on Saturday.

Kaepernick was Alex Smith's backup when the two teams did battle in Week 1, but that game still holds significance for the young quarterback. It marked the first meaningful game action for Kaepernick's NFL career, as he rattled off a 17-yard run to set up a 63-yard David Akers field goal before halftime.

Though he was on the sidelines for most of that contest, Kaepernick still drew impressions from the foes who will be trying to contain him this weekend.

"They have a lot of different looks, a lot of different things they can do, a lot of great playmakers on their side of the ball," Kaepernick said. "So, they're going to try to cause turnovers, they're going to try to disrupt our offense. We just have to account for that."

Even though Kaepernick and Smith have since switched roles on the field, Smith has still proved to be an invaluable veteran presence for Kaepernick as he goes through his first season as an NFL starter. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman said the quarterback switch hasn't done anything to fracture the locker room or the quarterback room.

"Alex has been mentoring through the whole season, week-to-week, day-to-day really," Roman said. "He's always going to give him feedback in the meetings. I think they have a great line of communication, a great respect there. He's been great, really before the Chicago game all the way up.

"Alex is as professional as you can get and Alex himself is getting ready for this game. So, they are lock-step in their preparation."

It also helps when you have a work ethic like Kaepernick.

On Monday, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh called Kaepernick's preparation "savant-like." A day later and Roman was singing the same tune.

"There's a great focus and a great energy for the task at hand with the entire group, including Colin," Roman said. "He's demonstrated that. He came in on Sunday and started getting the gameplan, going through it, talking through it. Savant-like, that's pretty good."

The week is still young but Roman has liked what he's seen out of his players so far as they prepare for the Packers. Namely, Roman said Green Bay's defense is led by Pro Bowlers defensive tackle B.J. Raji, linebacker Clay Matthews and defensive back Charles Woodson.

But the 49ers have Pro Bowl-caliber talent on offense, too, led by 2013 selections Frank Gore, Mike Iupati and Joe Staley. As they prepare for their second playoff run in two seasons, the 49ers have shown the focus of a team with Super Bowl aspirations.

"It's just very much in tune," Roman said of his team's preparation. "A lot of energy, great questions, just vibrant. Just great attitude, great energy."

As he looks to the other sideline, one player who really catches Roman's eye is Woodson. The likely future Hall of Famer was credited with 1.5 sacks against the 49ers in Week 1 and returned to the field in the first round of the playoffs after sitting out since Week 7 with a collarbone injury.

On film, Roman didn't see any signs of rust from Woodson in last week's game, and he's expecting the 15-year vet to be his usual, disruptive self on Saturday.

"They can do a lot of things with him in the secondary and also around the front," Roman said. "Very good blitzer. He's a very good run defender, and he's a very good pass defender, very physical in coverage and has created a lot of turnovers in his career. So, Charles Woodson's a difference maker."


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