What To Expect from Colin Kaepernick Against the Green Bay Packers on Saturday

John RozumCorrespondent IJanuary 8, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 30:  Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers in action against the Arizona Cardinals at Candlestick Park on December 30, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers haven't seen a quarterback quite like Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers.

While Joe Webb of the Minnesota Vikings is somewhat comparable because of his mobility, he pales in comparison to Kaepernick's entire repertoire.

And given Alex Smith was under center for San Francisco in Week 1, Green Bay didn't face Kaepernick when 2012 kicked off.

The result is a is a competitive advantage for the 49ers entering this weekend's NFC Divisional showdown.

Ahead, we break down what the Packers must anticipate from Kaepernick on Saturday.


Note: All screen-caps are courtesy of NFL.com's Game Rewind.


Kaepernick's Passing Capabilities

On the road against Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots, Kaepernick threw four touchdowns to just one pick. Due to his strong arm, improving accuracy and overall athleticism, San Francisco's passing game found its identity.

In turn, the 49ers defeated the Patriots 41-34 and got arguably the biggest victory of 2012's regular season.

Leading 7-3 in the second quarter, San Francisco had just given up a field goal to New England. So to remain in control of the momentum, Kaepernick and the offense had to move the ball.

Well, after a pass interference call and two slams by Frank Gore, Jim Harbaugh went to the air. Kaepernick found Delanie Walker from 34 yards out and the 49ers went up 14-3.

First, notice how well the Pats stack the box. Now, yes, the 49ers are tight near the line as well, but only one deep safety is a concern against a strong-armed quarterback.

Kaepernick then looks off the safety as he makes his initial read.

Here, the safety rolls over the top of Kaepernick's first receiver. At the bottom, the cornerback is taking his drop but keeps his eyes in the backfield. Thinking there's safety help, Walker ends up being wide open for a score.

Although such a simple play, it shows Kaepernick's mind as a quarterback. He makes reads and knows how to manipulate a secondary.

Aerial Efficiency Allows For Mobile Advantage

Immediately after scoring a touchdown, the 49ers defense forced a punt and got the ball back.

With time winding down in the first half, San Francisco still needed to add some points. Failing to do so would simply keep Tom Brady in the game, and no lead is safe with him under center.

Unsurprisingly, Brady brought the Pats back and tied the game at 31.

Had Kaepernick not converted this crucial third down on the Niners' final first half possession, the second half's complexion immensely changes in favor of New England. On the play, Kaepernick sees man coverage across the board with a safety dropping back at the snap for a Cover 2 look.

As the pocket forms, New England's safeties are quite deep. Then again, this is their responsibility as the front seven must focus on containing.

As you can see, each of Belichick's man cover players have their backs to the line of scrimmage. The safeties remain deep and a crease opens up because the Pats only sent five players at Kaepernick.

Once past the first level of defense, there's no one there to immediately make a play. New England's secondary defenders haven't yet reacted to the run and San Francisco moves the chains.

Kaepernick's impressive composure since taking over the starting role also plays a key role. But the Packers can't be conservative against him either.

Now the playoffs are certainly a different monster, but Green Bay's defense is vulnerable to the run. We've seen that weakness all year, and whether it's Gore punishing or Kaepernick scrambling, the Packers will have trouble completely slowing San Francisco down.

If anything, a constant spy in the middle to patrol Kaepernick's mobility will occur.

Factor in his passing ability, though, and it's a big problem for the Packers. This is not Christian Ponder or Joe Webb at the helm. Kaepernick can and will throw and it will keep Green Bay off balance.

That impact is required for victory as well, because much like San Francisco saw against New England, the Packers present an elite quarterback in Aaron Rodgers. The ability of Kaepernick getting San Francisco to win the possession battle will simply limit Rodgers' opportunities.

Winning the possession battle then results in a trip to the NFC Championship game for a second consecutive season.


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