FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Colin Kaepernick is giving the New England Patriots some extra things to think about this week.
As if defending perennial Pro Bowl running back Frank Gore wasn’t enough of a concern, the Patriots (10-3) now must focus on curtailing San Francisco’s shifty quarterback in front of a national audience tonight.
“Our job is to contain him, running and passing,” New England defensive end Chandler Jones said. “Kaepernick’s a good athlete. He can throw the ball and he can run as well. It’s our job to contain him.”
Easier said than done.
The Miami Dolphins last week discovered how difficult that task can be.
Trailing by seven late in the fourth quarter, the Dolphins’ defense surrendered a 50-yard touchdown run to Kaepernick, who deftly deceived the defensive line with a perfect play-action fake, bounced outside and darted untouched up the left sideline for the clinching score for the 49ers (9-3-1).
“Everybody came to me and Mr. Everything did his thing,” Gore said.
The highlight-reel run also served noticed to the rest of the league – there is no quarterback controversy in the Bay Area.
“He’s a guy that can do a lot. Just that last run he had against Miami last week where he’s able to just hit the sideline and pull away from everybody and he has a very strong arm,” Patriots safety Devin McCourty said.
Kaepernick’s primary numbers don’t jump out at you – three passing touchdowns, five touchdown runs and a 67.4 completion percentage. Yet the 25-year-old has just one interception in 129 pass attempts, has eclipsed 200 yards passing in three of his four starts and is averaging 7.6 yards per carry.
San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh earlier this week highlighted Kaepernick’s top qualities, saying he’s fast, powerful, smart and reads the field extremely well.
The Patriots run defense is eighth in the league, surrendering just more than 100 yards a game. And while the unit still ranks 29th against the pass, it has vastly improved since the acquisition of cornerback Aqib Talib, who has played in four games for the AFC East champions. New England has won seven in a row, including a dominating 42-14 victory over the first-place Houston Texans on Monday.
“Defensively, turnovers and points allowed, that’s really what decides the game,” McCourty said. “We can pull up a bunch of different stats, but how many points have you given up and try to take the ball away. So for us, it stays the same throughout the season.
“We’ll have our work cut out for us this week. This team and this offense, they do a good job of taking care of the ball, so we’re really going to have to try to go out there and make our own plays in the passing game and running game.”
For the 49ers to win, so will Kaepernick.