If Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak was impressed with Kaepernick prior to the 2011 NFL Draft, he must be in a state of vertigo right now after watching the 25-year-old quarterback run laps around his defense Sunday.
The read-option made its return to the 49ers’ offense in Week 7 and, in the process, Kaepernick reminded us why he’s being touted as a potentially revolutionary quarterback.
He gashed the Titans defense for 68 yards on 11 carries and showed poise in the pocket, completing 13-of-21 passes for 199 yards.
“Hangnails are healed up,” Kaepernick told reporters after the game.
After using the read-option less than 20 times in the first six weeks of the season, Greg Roman’s not-so-secret weapon played a prominent role in Sunday’s win, deceiving the Titans defense and tricking the Fox broadcast team on a couple of occasions, too.
Kaepernick’s 20-yard touchdown run off the read-option in the second quarter triggered memories of last January’s dazzling performance against the Green Bay Packers.
But Kaepernick’s return to glory this week wasn’t just a product of the read-option. He also broke off a 20-yard scramble when the pocket collapsed on third-and-11 in the second quarter and when he allows his instincts to takeover, he’s virtually unstoppable.
Prior to Sunday’s game, Kaepernick hadn’t amassed more than 20 rushing yards since Week 2 in Seattle, the last time he was really willing to tuck the ball and take off. If his feet start moving again, the offense will give defensive coordinators a pick your poison dilemma in the second half of the season.
When Kaepernick is a threat to run, it obviously creates opportunities in the passing game. He stretched the field throughout the first three quarters (the competitive portion of the game) on Sunday, completing six passes of 15 yards or longer, spreading the ball around to Vernon Davis, Anquan Boldin and Vance McDonald.
It wasn’t the 400-yard explosion that Kaepernick unleashed on the Packers in the season opener, however, the performance was his most well-rounded of the season.
If the 49ers regained their identity by running the ball against the St. Louis Rams and producing takeaways on defense against the Houston Texans and the Arizona Cardinals, they reminded everyone why they’re Super Bowl favorites on Sunday, showing prowess in every facet of the game.
They still managed to run the ball 41 times, they contained the Titans on defense and they produced a special teams touchdown when Kassim Osgood recovered a fumbled punt in the end zone.
In their past four games, the 49ers have outscored their opponents 132-51 and if Kaepernick stays balanced, they should be in the mix with the Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints come January.
Kaepernick will get a chance to avenge another team that bypassed him in the draft when the 49ers meet the Jacksonville Jaguars in the London on Sunday.
Can you imagine what he’ll do if he gets a plantar wart, too?
Paul Gackle is a contributor to The San Francisco Examiner. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @GackleReport. iframe code: