Craig: Long preseason run against Vikings started Kaepernick's rise

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 30, 2013 - 6:59 PM

When Colin Kaepernick rode the read option for a preseason TD run, few knew a star was born.

hide

49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) ran away from Vikings defenders for 78 yard touchdown in the second quarter of a preseason game.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Dml - Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

NEW ORLEANS - It's still too early to tell if Colin Kaeper-nick, the "pistol" offense and the read-option play will thrive beyond its current 15 minutes of Super Bowl-caliber fame.

But if it does, here's a trivia question that would become historically interesting in about a decade:

Which NFL team got the first bitter taste of Kaepernick's extraordinary read-option running skills?

Answer: Your Minnesota Vikings.

"That was the first one I broke," Kaepernick said Tuesday about his 78-yard touchdown run against the Vikings in Week 1 of the 2012 preseason. "The first one in the pros, at least."

Kaepernick had done it several times at Nevada before the 49ers made him the 36th overall draft pick in 2011. But he wasn't -- and still isn't -- supposed to be doing it so successfully through nine starts at the NFL level. His 10th start comes Sunday against the Ravens at the Superdome in Super Bowl XLVII.

"We knew he could do it before that preseason game," 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers said. "We saw him do it in practice before. That night, the Vikings found out about it, too."

Actually, the world found out. Only the world didn't really care at the time. It was a preseason game. The Vikings were playing without Jared Allen, Kevin Williams and Antoine Winfield. And Kaep- ernick was merely a backup fighting off Scott Tolzien for the right to be No. 2 behind Alex Smith. Tolzien probably played Kaepernick to a draw, completing 10 of 13 passes that night.

In three games as a rookie, Kaepernick had run the ball only twice. And gained minus-2 yards.

Yet there he was in that 2012 preseason opener. There he was sticking the football into the midsection of LaMichael James and then reading the defensive end pinching closer. There he was pulling that ball out of James' midsection and running around the end and unleashing all this pent-up speed. There he was outrunning some defenders and bouncing off others.

"What was I thinking?" asked Rogers, repeating the question. "I was thinking that nobody from Minnesota was going to catch him. That dude can fly."

No one from Minnesota could catch him. But neither could players from a lot of teams, including the Packers, who were completely baffled by the read-option when they allowed Kaepernick to rush for 181 yards -- a league record for a quarterback in any game -- in a NFC divisional playoff loss.

"That run [against the Vikings] was just a great example of the explosiveness of what Colin brings," 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. "It's something we always felt we had in our back pocket."

No, Kaepernick and the 49ers hadn't tried it in a live NFL situation until that point. But Roman had a good idea the play would work when he called it for Kaepernick against the Vikings.

"We saw it in practice one day," Roman said. "There was a day when we couldn't gain a yard against our defense. So we called it up."

And how'd that go?

"He ran 80 yards for a touchdown," Roman said. "It wasn't a game, but it was during a competitive scrimmage situation."

The 49ers had been careful not to show the pistol or the read-option during Kaepernick's rookie season.

Why?

"Because sometimes you have to be careful not to do something like that until you have to do it or you need to do it," Roman said. "You do it at the right time before people can make wholesale adjustments to him."

But Roman wanted to see it at least once in the preseason. You know, just in case Kaepernick somehow ended up playing later on. And boy did he ever end up playing.

"I didn't think much about that run," said Kaepernick, who ran three times that night for 92 of the 49ers' 260 yards rushing. "At that point, I was just hoping that I was showing enough to get on the field at some point during the season."

Mark Craig • mcraig@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Detroit - M. Scherzer 4:37 PM
Baltimore - C. Tillman
Kansas City - J. Vargas 8:07 PM
LA Angels - J. Weaver
Minnesota 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
NY Islanders 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Philadelphia 6:00 PM
Washington
Tampa Bay 6:30 PM
Florida
Minnesota 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Vancouver 8:00 PM
Edmonton
Winnipeg 8:00 PM
Calgary
Los Angeles 8:00 PM
Colorado
Fla Atlantic 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Chicago 7:00 PM
Philadelphia
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Hamilton 10/10/14 6:00 PM
Toronto
Ottawa 10/11/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings do Thursday in Green Bay?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close