Colin Kaepernick Solidifies Starting Role for Niners in Road Win over Saints

Eric EvansCorrespondent INovember 26, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 25:   Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers runs off the field after defeating the New Orleans Saints 31-21 at The Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 25, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

San Francisco 49ers second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick showed why head coach Jim Harbaugh stuck with him in Week 12, despite Alex Smith being cleared to play.

Kaepernick was an efficient 16-of-25 for 231 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. He also rushed for 27 yards and another touchdown in the first road start of his career.

The 49ers used a strong running game to produce opportunities for Kaepernick to use his quality play-action passing attack. Kaepernick was 7-for-10 with 125 yards and a touchdown off of play-action passes. All seven completions resulted in first downs or touchdowns for the Niners.

While the defense played a large part in the Niners success on Sunday, taking two Drew Brees interceptions back for touchdowns, Kaepernick showed a great deal of poise and leadership going into the Superdome and outplaying his Saints counterpart. Kaepernick matched Brees' yardage total on fewer completions and produced fewer turnovers, while avoiding a sack. Brees was taken down five times.

Kaepernick showed early what makes him so dangerous, scoring on a seven-yard, read-option play in the first quarter giving the Niners the early lead. Kaepernick would later throw a touchdown to Frank Gore as a part of a 21-0 run early in the second half that gave the Niners a 28-14 lead.

Kaepernick would later orchestrate a 16-play, 85-yard drive that would eat up nearly nine and a half minutes of the second half and end in a David Akers field goal. That field goal would prove to be enough, as the Niners went on to win the game 31-21.

Kaepernick's performance left little doubt that he will be the starting quarterback next week vs. St. Louis. Although Coach Harbaugh would not comment on who would start next week, just as he refused to this week, it's hard to imagine a scenario where Kaepernick does not keep the starting job for the foreseeable future.