Who would you rather have: Kaepernick or Luck?
With Jim Harbaugh and Andrew Luck, Stanford went 25-13 and played in two bowl games. (AP)
Andrew Luck is 43-for-66 passing for 499 yards, three touchdowns and an interception; the Colts are 1-1. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
Jim Harbaugh recruited quarterback Andrew Luck to Stanford and coached him there for three seasons.
On Sunday, the 49ers face Luck and the Indianapolis Colts at Candlestick Park. Luck, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft, finished second in NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year voting to Washington’s Robert Griffin. He is one of the top young stars in the NFL.
Harbaugh and 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio are finding it is a lot less complicated to devise a game plan to highlight Luck’s strengths than it is to come up with a defensive strategy to exploit his weaknesses.
“There’s not a lot of weaknesses that he has,” Harbaugh said. “He’s a top-notch player. We’re going to have to be very sound, very good.”
Luck said on a conference call Wednesday morning with Bay Area reporters that his main concern is facing a 49ers defense that consists of “a lot of Pro Bowl players, a lot of studs.”
Said Luck, “I’ve given it a little bit of thought, but I don’t think it changes anything from my end. I’m not going to change how I prepare, the process, just because coach Harbaugh, coach Fangio and coach (Greg) Roman are over there.
“It’ll be sort of fun, I guess, to see those guys,” Luck added. “I feel very fortunate to have played under them in college and they taught me so much about football and growing up. But at the end of the day, it’ll be another game.”
Luck said he does not approach this week’s preparations with an interest in how the 49ers plan to defend him, as much as the curiosity of how the 49ers will plan for the Colts’ offense as a whole, he said.
“I wouldn’t say necessarily me,” he said. “I’m curious to see how they’re going to approach us as an offense from a defensive standout. Yeah, that’s part of every week. I don't know if it’ll be any more this week just because of coach Fangio or Harbaugh.”
Luck also has a connection to the quarterback on the other sideline. Luck recalls meeting Colin Kaepernick at the Manning Passing Academy in Louisiana in July before his junior season. Kaepernick was entering his final year at Nevada.
“I was very impressed with him,” Luck said. “Obviously, he was big, strong an incredible looking athlete. But what a great guy -- easy to get along with. I doubt you can find anyone who has a bad word to say about him.”
As the story goes, Luck went back to Stanford and spoke with Harbaugh about Kaepernick. And a year later, Kaepernick was the first quarterback the 49ers would add to their roster after Harbaugh left Stanford to take over as 49ers head coach.
As for the details, Luck said he is a little hazy about what he said to Harbaugh.
“I must’ve said something because I remember people talking about that as a story when he got drafted,” Luck said. “But I don’t remember a specific conversation at that point.”
Luck said he wishes he also had a better memory for the conversations he had with Fangio, who served as Stanford’s defensive coordinator.
“I wish I’d paid more attention to those conversations now, I guess,” Luck said. “Coach Fangio was a great coach when I was at Stanford. Guys really loved him. He did so much for our defense there. As a quarterback, his door was always open to anybody to come talk to him. So every now and then, I’d have the opportunity to walk in and say hi.
“They whopped our butts every now and then at practice, and I wanted to figure out why the defense was doing so well. What are our weaknesses? What are my weaknesses? He was always very accommodating and very patient with what probably seemed to be a young brat, snot-nosed quarterback coming in and trying to learn a little about defense.”