Why Colin Kaepernick Will Thrive Against Suspect Patriots Defense
You won't find many experts picking the 49ers to win, and the way the Patriots have been playing of late, it's hard to find fault with their reasoning.
It just so happens that I don't agree with their assessment of the situation.
Kaepernick will thrive this weekend, and the 49ers offense will take advantage of a Patriots defense that is ripe for exploitation.
Here are the two main reasons why Kaepernick will have a big game in Boston on Sunday Night Football.
The 21 I'm referring to here isn't Frank Gore, though you can be sure he'll have a lot to do with Kaepernick's success on Sunday.
21 stands for two tight ends and one running back, and it's a formation that the 49ers use on a regular basis. Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker are both incredible run-blockers, and both of them are dynamic receivers who have enough speed to outpace the Patriots middle linebackers.
It's a formation that has given the Patriots fits this season, due to the fact that their middle linebackers are not particularly fast or athletic, and you can bet Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman are savvy on this score.
Here's one example of a simple play the New York Jets ran back in Week 7 that led to an easy 15-yard completion on 2nd-and-2.
Dustin Keller lines up on the right side, and Konrad Reuland lines up on the left. Reuland runs a crossing route underneath the coverage to draw the linebackers to his side, while Keller settles into the vacant space in between the two middle linebackers.
Shonn Greene runs a wheel route out of the backfield, drawing attention from the outside linebacker, the wide receiver on the left ran a simple go route, and the receiver on the right ran a post pattern over the top, holding the safety.
Mark Sanchez has no choice but to hit Keller, who is wide open in the middle of the field.
The beauty of this illustration is that Sanchez actually had his running back wide open, too. Furthermore, If Keller had just been able to break a tackle, he had miles of running room to gain extra yards.
Davis will be licking his chops, and if the Patriots decide to double down on him using a safety to help, Michael Crabtree will do his thing and continue showing the league he's one of the best receivers after the catch in the NFL.
The Patriots were able to shut down Tim Tebow's read-option offensive attack last season the second time they faced him, holding Tebow to just 13 yards on five carries. They had allowed him to rush for 93 yards with two touchdowns when the Denver Broncos hosted the Pats in the middle of December.
Kaepernick is far more dangerous as a runner than Tebow, though, possessing the speed needed to get outside and turn the corner, whereas Tebow's plodding style rarely allows him to do so.
Will the 49ers be able to establish their rushing attack against the Patriots?
Furthermore, the 49ers feature a much more dynamic rushing attack than the Broncos did a year ago, and the Patriots are going to find it difficult, as has every other team to face the 49ers since Kaepernick took over, to keep the running game in check.
Since Kaepernick became the team's starting quarterback, the 49ers have averaged 142 rushing yards per game, and they've been successful against two of the NFL's top running defenses—the Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins.
This ability to successfully establish a power running game has opened up some monster runs for Kaepernick on the edges, as we saw last week against the Miami Dolphins when he took one in from 50 yards out to seal the victory.
Kaepernick is more Robert Griffin III than Tebow, and he's shown an ability to make plays with his arm and with his feet.
Another point that can't be ignored is Kaepernick's incredible self-confidence and the confidence it instills in his teammates, who obviously adore their young quarterback.
The 49ers have the personnel on offense to exploit the areas of weakness on the Patriots defense, and I predict a big upset for the 49ers at Gillette Stadium on Sunday Night Football.
Gore will get his yards, Davis will get back into the swing of things in the passing game, and I expect to see another big run from Kaepernick at some point in the game.
It won't be long until we find out if I'm right or not, so stay tuned for what is sure to be a compelling game this weekend.
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