When you’re crushing your opponent, you have the ability to experiment and try a few things. And that’s exactly 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh did on Sunday.
Backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick was inserted into 11 offensive plays on Sunday against the Jets, and he made the most of his opportunity.
In a role similar to one played by Tim Tebow in 2010 during his rookie season with the Denver Broncos, Kaepernick was put in at key times during the game. He used his legs rather than his arm, carrying the ball five times for 50 yards, including a seven yard touchdown in the 2nd quarter.
Harbaugh explained the value of Kaepernick’s role after the game:
“He’s doing a great job in the understudy role. There was an opportunity to get him in and contribute and he handled it well.”
Understandably, though, Kaepernick doesn’t want to be pigeon-holed into the Tebow role:
“I’m hoping they’ll use me more and more as the season goes along.”
To his credit, Alex Smith doesn’t feel threatened by Kaepernick’s increased role. Despite the 49ers’ dominating win over the Jets, Smith didn’t exactly fill up the box score. He completed just 12 of 21 passes for 143 yards against a Jets defense without Darrelle Revis, the best cornerback in the league:
“It was great. Effective, for sure. That would be an understatement. He’s a good player. I’m happy for him. He works extremely hard. He can help this team, so it’s fun to see him get out there and have success.”
Any experience that Harbaugh can get for Kaepernick makes the 49ers that much more dangerous. The 49ers take on a beat-up Buffalo Bills defense that gave up 52 points to the New England Patriots on Sunday.
Call it a hunch, but I think Kaepernick will have a lot of chances against the Bills.