Colin Kaepernick Will Continue Thriving for 49ers in Game Manager Role

Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIOctober 27, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 27:  #7 Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers looks on during the NFL International Series game between San Francisco 49ers and Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium on October 27, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has become less of a playmaker and more of a game manager in the midst of the team's five-game winning streak.

Kaepernick's efficiency has been outstanding, and it continued in Week 8's 42-10 victory at London's Wembley Stadium over the Jacksonville Jaguars. The 2011 second-round pick completed 10 of 16 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown, while running for two scores and an additional 54 yards.

ESPN Stats & Info highlighted the way in which Kaepernick has made almost all the right decisions in his past two outings in particular:

Registering a nearly perfect QBR is a difficult feat. Although it is assisted by Kaepernick's unique running ability, it is also a testament to his football IQ and avoidance of mistakes.

The Niners have a stellar running game—aided by Kaepernick—with Frank Gore as the driving force in bruising his way between the tackles.

Combine that with a defense that has played at an elite level even without stupendous pass-rusher Aldon Smith, and it's no wonder San Francisco is re-establishing itself among the NFL's elite.

An early two-game slide was a phenomenon unseen before under head coach Jim Harbaugh, but the Niners have bounced back with aggressive, physical swagger.

Alex Smith did not have to make a ton of big plays as Kaepernick's predecessor under center.

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Instead of trying to capitalize as much as possible on the 25-year-old's superior arm talent and athleticism, offensive coordinator Greg Roman is putting Kaepernick in similar positions Smith was in during his tenure.

The great news for the Niners is that Kaepernick actually brings more to the table than Smith. As his progression continues, the sky seems to be the limit as long as the defense holds up and Gore and Co. are there to complement him.

Anquan Boldin is Kaepernick's only dependable wide receiver, and other than tight end Vernon Davis, there aren't many other options.

An emphasis on the ground-and-pound is necessary given the situation the Niners are faced with on offense. Boldin recently said he liked that Kaepernick was running more, though,.

That dearth of playmakers makes Kaepernick's job easier in a way. If it's not there—even on the first or second read of some plays—he can just take off and run for a big gain.

Having Kaepernick as more of a game manager than a game changer is an asset in and of itself. It's easy to be tantalized by his talents, but the formula of winning that worked with Smith at QB seems to be in some sort of 2.0 phase at the moment with his successor.

At any moment, Kaepernick can explode for a long touchdown run if no one's open—or on a read-option keeper. The versatility Kaepernick has allows Roman to dial up more of those called runs if need be, but Kaepernick is good enough from the pocket to maximize the production from those plays.

By making better decisions in pure pocket situations and going the safer route more often than not, it makes opposing defenses struggle to decide which element of the Niners' multifaceted attack to take away.

Possessing such a cannon affords Kaepernick the luxury of occasional risk, too. He can fit it into the tightest of windows with accuracy. That also stretches the field, enhancing the chances of the Niners to be balanced.

But the issue needn't be forced. As Kaepernick has matured after early growing pains in 2013, the risks have been more calculated.

The swag Kaepernick figuratively sports is more of a coaching cap than a Western hat an old-time gunslinger might tote.

With 18 professional starts under his belt, it seems Kaepernick is destined to avoid the game experience equivalent of a sophomore slump. He's improving and, in the process, proving the notion that sometimes, more is less.

Anquan Boldin is Kaepernick's only dependable wide receiver, and other than tight end Vernon Davis, there aren't many other options.