San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is one of the fastest and most athletic quarterbacks in the NFL. That wasn't on display during the preseason, though, and it turns out that was by design.
According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the 49ers banned Kaepernick from running the ball during the preseason, which explains why he was largely a pocket passer in the warm-up games leading up to Week 1.
While some might argue that placing the proverbial shackles on Kaepernick during the preseason will hinder him early in the regular season, the main goal was to keep him healthy. Kaepernick is a big, strong guy, but there was no reason for him to take unnecessary hits in meaningless games.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh's plan seemed to work to perfection, as Kaepernick was not sacked in any of the Niners' four preseason games. He did scramble once for six yards in San Fran's preseason opener, though, so perhaps Kaepernick got an earful from his intense coach after that.
The read option is such a big part of San Francisco's offense that it will be run early and often during the regular season. Kaepernick rushed for 415 yards in roughly half a season as the starter last year, so his rushing total could easily double. That means he is going to open himself up to even more hits.
Harbaugh spoke out about defenders targeting read-option quarterbacks prior to the 49ers' opener against the Green Bay Packers, per Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com:
[It] sounds a lot like targeting a specific player. You definitely start to wonder. A man usually doesn’t tell you his bad intentions. You know what’s being said publicly, not what’s being said privately. I hope their intent is not going to be anything that’s not within the rules.
Kaepernick, meanwhile, told reporters, "I’m not worried about that. It’s football. You’re going to get hit."
Along with the 49ers defense, Kaepernick is the biggest key to the team's success this season. With so many key players going down for various teams during the preseason, Harbaugh and the rest of the Niners' brain trust seemed to make a very wise decision with regards to Kaepernick's usage.
The read option became second nature for Kaepernick as the season went on last year, and there is little doubt that he will pick up where he left off in Week 1 against the Packers, as he racked up 181 yards on the ground against them in last season's playoffs.
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