Now Kaepernick takes advanced test

  • Colin Kaepernick scrambled for 53 yards on 6 carries on Sunday. The San Francisco 49ers beat the Miami Dolphins 27-13 on December 9, 2012. (John Burgess/The Press Democrat)

SANTA CLARA — There is a lot of romanticism about Colin Kaepernick, and he is very good. Jim Harbaugh may in fact have showed his genius by making the switch to Kaepernick midseason.

But where is Kaepernick at this point in his career?

In a Thursday interview, Alex Smith, the quarterback whose job Kaepernick took in November, talked about what impressed him about Kaepernick.

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"Obviously physically, Colin's a tremendous player," Smith said. "A guy that strong, he can make all the throws. For me, the thing that's jumped out is just how fast he's processed it. I think that's the thing with young quarterbacks — no matter how gifted they are physically, I think they're behind usually going out there and mentally processing things, making quick decisions. Colin's done a great job of that, preparing throughout the week and playing fast on game day with his head."

Smith said, outwardly, much of Kaepernick's preparation involves keeping to himself.

"He's always got his headphones on. He's very unique, especially as we get closer to game day. Just kind of keeping to himself — mentally preparing as we get closer to game day. I think kind of making sure his mind is right, at least that's what I think he's doing. He's very locked in, especially as we get closer to game day. Very focused guy."

The focused Kaepernick has also grown more comfortable with asserting himself, Smith said.

"(He's) more confident, for sure," Smith said when asked how Kaepernick had improved. "More confident in what he's doing, especially in the times when there's some gray, some indecision. He's more confident just making a decision and going with it. That just comes through experience."

Smith's praise is flattering, for sure. But there's another aspect to Kaepernick's story, and it would be unfair to present this story without all its aspects.

But for all his gifts, Colin Kaepernick is inexperienced, certainly compared to Smith, who has already won a playoff game and who beat Green Bay earlier this season in Green Bay and outplayed Aaron Rodgers in every statistical category. That's a lot for Kaepernick to live up to Saturday.

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