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Harbaugh says Kaepernick has “savant-like” understanding of playoff prep

Kaepernick Getty Images

With the 49ers preparing for a playoff game that they won a year ago against the team they beat to start the current season, it’s becoming harder to overlook the fact that the quarterback who led San Fran to victory against the Saints in January 2012 and the Packers in September 2012 will be on the bench on Saturday.

But that’s precisely where Alex Smith will be, and it puts even more pressure on current starter Colin Kaepernick.

So coach Jim Harbaugh is doing his best to reduce the pressure, in part by making it clear that Kaepernick is ready for his postseason closeup.

“His understanding of it this early in the week is savant-like,” Harbaugh said regarding Kaepernick’s mastery of the game plan for the game against the Packers, via Steve Corkran of the Bay Area News Group.

Harbaugh still finds himself periodically addressing the events that resulted in the benching of Smith and the elevation of Kaepernick.  “It was not a pre-determined move,” Harbaugh said.  “The decision was made, when Alex got hurt, Colin played, played well in his first start.  Came back the next week, still felt that against New Orleans that Colin gave us the best chance to win.  He was healthier and played well.

“Then after that, [we] saw enough really good things that we wanted to have the same faith and trust in Colin that we’d show in Alex.  And it’s pretty well documented how we felt about both guys.”

The question could be whether Harbaugh will stick with the guy who is on the field if he struggles in any way against Green Bay.  That possibility puts even more pressure on Harbaugh to ensure that Kaepernick doesn’t stumble.

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43 Responses to “Harbaugh says Kaepernick has “savant-like” understanding of playoff prep”
  1. donkeykong2011 says: Jan 7, 2013 10:00 PM

    just like Rainman

  2. patriotsdefense says: Jan 7, 2013 10:03 PM

    Packers host Seahawks
    Broncos host Patriots

  3. folkcrusader says: Jan 7, 2013 10:05 PM

    If he wins you can call him savant-like Hairball. If he loses, well, you got some savant-splainin’ to do.

  4. 6superbowls says: Jan 7, 2013 10:05 PM

    Bigger whiner? West coast Harbaugh? Or east cost Harbaugh?

  5. gettingseattled says: Jan 7, 2013 10:06 PM

    You also really got that ‘savant-like’ feel week 16 against the Seahawks too. I totally feel you, Jim Harbaugh. I’m just waiting for the comparison of half Dalai Lama/half Usain Bolt out of his mouth next…..gobble gobble jive turkey.

  6. chawk12thman says: Jan 7, 2013 10:07 PM

    I look forward to the SF/GB game. It should be close and exciting. I was wanting GB to win and for the Hawks to win and meet them again. I now want an all NFC West matchup to show the rest of the NFL that our Division is back and strong. Either way, if the Hawks get by Atlanta, the story line is set.

    Go Hawks!

  7. hurrayforyogapants says: Jan 7, 2013 10:10 PM

    Okey-dokey then…

  8. judsonjr says: Jan 7, 2013 10:10 PM

    He’s a savant?

    I can see him in the lockeroom now:

    97X, bam! The future of rock ‘n’ roll. 97X, bam! The future of rock ‘n’ roll. 97X, bam! The future of rock ‘n’ roll.

    Have to get to K-Mart. Have to get to K-Mart.

  9. dougydougdoug says: Jan 7, 2013 10:18 PM

    Yeah. Definitely don’t throw interceptions. Yeah.
    Wapner is on in three minutes. Yeah.

  10. corduroy88 says: Jan 7, 2013 10:19 PM

    Better hope so, Jimmy boy.

  11. redassranch says: Jan 7, 2013 10:20 PM

    As a friend pointed out to me earlier, it is not the first time a member of the coaching staff thought a player was “savant” like; and for that matter not this first QB.

    From August 2012

    http://www.sfgate.com/49ers/article/Coaches-say-Smith-was-always-their-QB-3808660.php#ixzz2HL2E4QbG

  12. johnnyb216 says: Jan 7, 2013 10:23 PM

    Yeah, just like randy moss is the teams best reviever.

  13. 49ersandshivabowl says: Jan 7, 2013 10:23 PM

    It’s laughable that people would still question Kaepernick’s ability in big games considering games against the Bears and Pats in nationally televised games he did nothing but rise to the occasion. He did the same against the Cards in a ‘must win’ event. Every indication would point that he’s going to light up the Packers in a way that …eh hmm Webb couldn’t even dream about.

  14. medtxpack says: Jan 7, 2013 10:31 PM

    If you look at the stats, both Smith and Kaepernick had 218 passing attempts each this season, making their stats quite the picture for any Kaep vs Smith arguments. At the end of the day, the stats are pretty much identical for except for an INT here and little rush yard there. They essentially played the exact same this year. Being a Packer, I would want to play the rookie all day long.

  15. gbpshareholder says: Jan 7, 2013 10:32 PM

    savant-like… “yeah there were 2 Int’s and 1 fumble… yeah… 2 Int’s and one fumble…”
    GO PACK GO!!!!

  16. dimahdozen says: Jan 7, 2013 10:34 PM

    Believe me when i say this…. Both these men combined have an IQ lower than a Golden Retriever.

  17. gbpshareholder says: Jan 7, 2013 10:39 PM

    chawk12thman- you really want a rematch with your best pass rusher out… I will take CM#52 against your rookie QB over your ‘appealing’ D against my former league/SB MVP any day…
    I still fully expect Sherman to fold under the pressure of covering either one of the Falcons 2 top WR…
    GO PACK GO!!!

  18. drstrangehawk says: Jan 7, 2013 10:40 PM

    He didn’t do so well in that nationally televised game in Seattle. He got taken out behind the woodshed and spanked.

  19. thestrategyexpert says: Jan 7, 2013 10:57 PM

    Great, more fancy terminology from a guy who doesn’t understand half the words in his own vocabulary. uggh

    Harbaugh is one of the last people who should be trying to qualify who is and who is not a savant in regards to anything. It doesn’t give credibility to the person you are trying to compliment.

  20. nananatman says: Jan 7, 2013 11:16 PM

    Jinxed yourselves so badly, Green Bay wins 28-13.

  21. nesuperfan says: Jan 7, 2013 11:21 PM

    I hope if they get to the Super Bowl against my Pats, he plays more like an idiot than an idiot savant.

  22. staystrong79 says: Jan 7, 2013 11:32 PM

    I don’t know why I had the time to read this comments !
    49ers are the best in the West ! & this team is going to make everybody open there eyes wide open ! 49ers all the way !! Bring on the Seahawks

  23. thefox61 says: Jan 7, 2013 11:41 PM

    Wapner’s on at 5. Yeah definitely 5

  24. ajpnsf says: Jan 7, 2013 11:46 PM

    To all you smack talking Seattle fans and Packer fans. Shut the hell up. This is the playoffs. Win and talk smack lose and go home.

    Fact is that both of you won shoddy games against teams with injured or out qbs.

    WOW your teams are ao great.

  25. ripster65 says: Jan 8, 2013 12:04 AM

    drstrangehawk says:Jan 7, 2013 10:40 PM

    He didn’t do so well in that nationally televised game in Seattle. He got taken out behind the woodshed and spanked.
    ———————-
    Conversely, he led the 49ers to 41 points in the first December defeat of NE at Foxboro since ’09 in a nationally televised game 1 week prior.

  26. theysone says: Jan 8, 2013 12:27 AM

    Harbaugh: Shut up.

    Will you put Smith in when Kaepernick stinks it up in the first half this week, or will you stick with him so he scores a garbage time td so you can say “he did some good things out there”

    Smith should be under center. The offense was far better with him under center. Gore was averaging 1.6 yards per carry better with Smith under center. Smith is leaps and bounds better at reading defenses.

  27. brysong says: Jan 8, 2013 12:54 AM

    “49ersandshivabowl says: Jan 7, 2013 10:23 PM

    It’s laughable that people would still question Kaepernick’s ability in big games considering games against the Bears and Pats in nationally televised games he did nothing but rise to the occasion. He did the same against the Cards in a ‘must win’ event. Every indication would point that he’s going to light up the Packers in a way that …eh hmm Webb couldn’t even dream about.”

    We question him because he looked completely lost and confused in Seattle. He had Crabtree open for an easy touchdown twice and couldn’t pull the trigger after looking straight at him.

    Apparently you missed that game or found an excuse to make yourself feel better. You’ll miss Smith this week.

  28. norcalmafia says: Jan 8, 2013 1:06 AM

    I was gonna tell all these jealous Seacluck fans to act like theyve been here before but….what can you expect from a franchise that has never won anything?…Carry on..

  29. southpaw79 says: Jan 8, 2013 2:06 AM

    drstrangehawk says:
    Jan 7, 2013 10:40 PM
    He didn’t do so well in that nationally televised game in Seattle. He got taken out behind the woodshed and spanked.

    *****

    On the road in Seattle, Kaep did not look so hot. But he did put up more than the 6 whole points your boy Wilson managed to get in San Francisco. Too bad a rematch will not be in Seattle huh?

  30. wimpyburgers says: Jan 8, 2013 2:14 AM

    From the beginning, this decision had all the earmarks of a disaster

  31. ninerswilldominatelikebefore says: Jan 8, 2013 2:22 AM

    sorry seagull ladies but the NINERS will win the super bowl!

  32. juliusanonymous says: Jan 8, 2013 4:11 AM

    Packer fans, stop talking smack to Seahawk fans. You gotta beat the 49ers first and that ain’t gonna happen. No way. No how. Packers are soft.

  33. 49ersandshivabowl says: Jan 8, 2013 4:23 AM

    @drstrangehawk —-you mean following that 4 TD game he had the week before against the Pats only to be followed up by an equally intense game in Seattle? Remind me….who almost lost to the Rams (at home) after their blowout win against 49ers the week before?? If you think that ‘Hawks game was a Kaepernick loss you got another coming.

  34. t7658 says: Jan 8, 2013 7:16 AM

    Let’s be honest here. This is the playoffs. Anything can happen. Any team can beat another. I felt bad for Alex when we benched him, but had to admit Kap was more exciting to watch. I believe he has what it takes. Roll Niners!

  35. atthemurph says: Jan 8, 2013 9:13 AM

    So both QBs on the 9ers are “savant-like”.

    Not “savants” mind you but only “savant-like”.

    I guess we can make the observation then that the two coaches who have made these absurd observations are ignoramus-like.

  36. allidoiswin55 says: Jan 8, 2013 9:37 AM

    I’m a Hawks fan and I respect the niners.

    But seriously does Kap not look like that stereotypical dumb jock who tries to focus too hard with his eyes when he’s being talked to?

    Like he’s trying his hardest to be serious and concentrate but just ends up giving off deer in the headlight eyes?!!

  37. dhnf says: Jan 8, 2013 11:09 AM

    Still cracks me up when people doubt Kaepernick too. Everyone but Ron Jaworski seems to forget the Bears bringing the NFL’s #2 defense to San Francisco that Kaepernick absolutely torched.

    Then he goes to New Orleans and wins and leads the Niners to the first victory over the Pats in Foxboro in December in 10 freaking years.

    Do you people actually watch the football games or just look at box scores?

  38. richwizl says: Jan 8, 2013 12:12 PM

    CK is already a good QB and will keep getting better and better. Of course, GB has the edge over almost everybody with Rogers, but it’s a team game, in the end. SF and GB are both excellent teams and I look forward to watching a great game.

  39. brysong says: Jan 8, 2013 12:17 PM

    ” 49ersandshivabowl says: Jan 8, 2013 4:23 AM

    @drstrangehawk —-you mean following that 4 TD game he had the week before against the Pats only to be followed up by an equally intense game in Seattle? Remind me….who almost lost to the Rams (at home) after their blowout win against 49ers the week before?? If you think that ‘Hawks game was a Kaepernick loss you got another coming.”

    Really? That’s your argument?

    The Seahawks may have “almost” lost to the Rams but they still beat them…..which is something the Niners failed to do in 2012. Whoops!

  40. bluebongzilla says: Jan 8, 2013 12:47 PM

    Three minutes ’til Wapner.

  41. briank1ne says: Jan 8, 2013 3:24 PM

    all i know is this. the packers and the falcons are not nearly as tough or physical as the niners and packers. NFC BEST!

  42. phelbin says: Jan 8, 2013 3:30 PM

    The Seahawks fans are adorable this year. String together a few good games, suddenly they think they’re unbeatable.

    Come back when you have your FIRST Lombardi Trophy.

  43. ngbradley says: Jan 8, 2013 7:14 PM

    Its absurd to say that Smith and Kaepernick have ‘the same numbers’.

    Looking at ‘expected points added’, which looks at performance after down and distance are taken into account, its not that close.

    Excluding keel-downs and WR fumbles (for obvious reasons), Kaepernick produces 37% more per offensive snap than Alex Smith. That’s a lot.

    Looking at 3rd and 4th down, its not even close. Kaepernick produces at the same level on third and fourth down as he does on first and second down. Smith? Well, he actually out-produces Kaepernick (slightly) on first and second down, but is abysmal on 3rd and 4th down…negative actually.

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