Kaepernick out to prove he's an NFL starter this preseason

Kaepernick out to prove he's an NFL starter this preseason
August 7, 2012, 8:45 pm
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SANTA CLARA -- Colin Kaepernick, entering his second season as the 49ers backup quarterback, was not shy about his goals for the team's four-game preseason Tuesday.

"To show that I can be a starter in this league," Kaepernick said confidently. "I want to go out, perform my best, and show everybody what I'm capable of."

Last preseason -- given the lockout and Kaepernick's non-pro style offense at Nevada -- was tough for the rookie quarterback.

"I definitely wasn't as prepared as I would have liked to be," Kaepernick admitted.

"I don't think he was overwhelmed," Roman said. "I think he was grinding through it. It was a completely different offense. Playing under center for the first time. It was a new group of players that he'd never played with before. There's a curve there."

Taking the field for the first time as a professional, Kaepernick completed nine of 19 passes for 119 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. You'll recall the game for New Orleans Saints defensive coordinators Gregg Williams' relentless defensive scheme. Kaepernick was sacked seven times.

"We got blitzed a lot," Kaepernick recalled.

"You had to bring that up," Roman said.

It was a performance that juxtaposed glimpses of greatness (his 28-yard rush among them) with clear cases of a first-year player thrown to the lions for Kaepernick. The bar is quite a bit higher this preseason.

"I think there's a better opportunity for Colin," Roman said. "Having had a season under his belt approaching this preseason, to go in and play with confidence, know what he's doing, know what he's seeing. I think it'll be a really good opportunity for him to show us what he can do."

Specifically, the 49ers are looking to see Kaepernick's ability to take the center snap (something he never had to do at Nevada), understand defenses and understand protections.

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Kaepernick, who's been facing one of the NFL's top defenses every day in practice, feels better prepared for his first preseason challenge this time around.

"Our defense does so many different things," Kaepernick said. "They do a lot of great things. It'll be good to see another team and be able to go live and see what we can do."

Kaepernick also has the luxury of an entire year of internalizing the 49ers' thick playbook. How different is it from his playbook back at Nevada?

"A lot bigger," Kaepernick acknowledged. "A lot."

But Kaepernick and his coaches feel good about the progress he's made.

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"I think that's where I've made the biggest strides in the last year," Kaepernick said. "Knowing what we're trying to get done on each play."

In the ever-changing landscape of NFL defenses where misdirection and disguised formations are established to leave a quarterback confused as to what he's looking at, knowing what the team is trying to do, and identifying what must be done to accomplish that, will be paramount for Kaepernick's ability to execute.

REWIND: 49ers camp battle -- Colin Kaepernick vs. Josh Johnson

"He's doing really well," Roman said. "I really like his attitude. I really like how he's maturing as a player. He's a unique guy, so he's a lot of fun to work with. I look forward to seeing him out there."

"He's made tremendous strides," Kaepernick's draft classmate Kendall Hunter said.

If Hunter and Roman can be taken at their word, then Kaepernick's lofty goal might just come into focus. His first chance should come relatively quickly when he replaces starting quarterback Alex Smith in Friday's preseason opener against the Minnesota Vikings.

"It's football," Kaepernick said. "You have to be ready for when your opportunity comes."

Football is a business, and as the primary backup to Alex Smith, Kaepernick is a big hit away from that opportunity to start for the 49ers. If this preseason goes according to his plans, no one would be concerned.