Colin Kaepernick: 49ers QB Proves Himself as More Than Just a 'Wildcat' Option

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistNovember 11, 2012

Sunday's contest between the San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams ended in a tie, but it's impossible to stay neutral on Colin Kaepernick's performance as the 49ers' quarterback for nearly three quarters.

Nope, the dual-threat signal-caller took over the quarterbacking reins in the second quarter of the San Francisco's 24-24 finish against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday after Alex Smith left with a concussion (via the 49ers' Twitter).

Rather than wither under the pressure of leading San Francisco on a comeback, the second-year Nevada product stepped up. He played with poise, showing that he's more than just an athlete donning the quarterback moniker. His pocket presence opened some eyes.

Kaepernick finished the game 11-of-17 for 117 yards and zero touchdowns. What's more important though is that he didn't throw an interception. When you add in his 66 rushing yards and his rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter, he didn't just manage the game, he produced.

The Rams were playing well too. It's not like he entered the game against an abysmal defense that was in the midst of being throttled. Smith was comfortable behind center, but Kaepernick's athleticism gave him opportunities that Smith didn't have back there.

There's no reason to think that Smith must be replaced behind center, but it has to be comforting for San Francisco to know that there's some insurance waiting in the wings. When Smith is healthy, he adds another dimension to the attack. When Smith's not, he can come in and do this.

In terms of replacing Smith though, it's not necessarily out of the realm of possibility. It shouldn't happen this year, but he still struggles to take the 49ers' offense to the next level at times. It's hard to tell if Kaepernick could play well in the long term, but that could be a bridge to cross at a later date.

Maybe it's the element of surprise that did it for me on Sunday. I'm used to seeing him used a surprise factor for a few plays a game, but Kaepernick was able to show off a consistent arm in a big game.

Considering that he only had 14 career pass attempts entering the game, that's something to get excited about if you're the 49ers—even if the tie isn't.