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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Colin Kaepernick claimed to have a hangnail on the "pinkie toe" of both feet early last season.
And while 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh did not get into any specifics Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings, he certainly did not minimize his quarterback's undisclosed early-season foot injury.
“I noticed it, especially in practice,” Harbaugh said. “I think anytime you have a foot, a hand or a finger, it affects you throwing and running.”
Kaepernick first appeared on the 49ers’ injury report in the days after the Week 2 loss against the Seattle Seahawks. When asked if Kaepernick’s injury was sustained in the Week 1 game against Green Bay -- on Clay Matthews’ illegal hit along the sideline -- Harbaugh would say only, “one of those early games.”
Kaepernick never missed a practice or a game. In early November, he was no longer listed on the injury report with the foot injury. (He appeared for one week after the New Orleans game with a back condition.)
“I can see it,” Harbaugh said of Kaepernick’s foot. “He doesn’t verbalize it and he says he’s fine and he’s going to play through it, which I respect. If it ever got to the point where I thought it was hurting him or an injury could be worse or he was hurting the team, I’d step in.”
The 49ers did step in, Harbaugh admitted, to reduce the number of times the 49ers called plays in their quarterback-driven run game early in the season. Kaepernick rushed 94 times for 524 yards during the regular season. He added 243 yards on 26 rushing attempts in just three playoff games.
“We weren’t calling those plays as much early in the season,” Harbaugh said. “We didn’t want to see Colin get hit 12 times a game. Four or five, maybe, and that’s it. That was a conscious effort.”