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Grant Cohn: Colin Kaepernick's foot faults

Watch Colin Kaepernick's feet this Sunday.

The 49ers play the Cardinals in Arizona and the game means very little to the Niners. Win or lose, the 49ers will make the playoffs. They'll be a wild-card team if the Seahawks beat the Rams, and the Seahawks probably will beat the Rams.

And the 49ers probably will beat the Cardinals. You already know the Cardinals' quarterback, Carson Palmer, will throw at least one interception. He's already thrown 21 this season.

After Palmer takes his first big hit of the game, he will want to crash on the couch next to you and drink hot cocoa. He doesn't like taking hits. That's why he quit on the Bengals in 2011.

Consider this game against the Cardinals a dress rehearsal for what the 49ers will face in the playoffs. It's a road game and the Cardinals are playoff-caliber. If the 49ers make it to the Super Bowl, they most likely will have to win three straight playoff games on the road. That's the challenge ahead of them. If anything could hold them back from rising to that challenge, it is Kaepernick's feet.

He still can run with them, but his footwork and technique in the pocket are poor. If he can show some improvement in those areas on Sunday against the Cardinals, who's to say he can't win three straight road playoff games? The sky is the limit.

Bill Walsh always said the quarterback defines the limit of the offense. Kaepernick does certain things to increase the limit of the 49ers' current offense – he's very good at throwing on the run – but he does other things that limit the limit. His technique in the pocket is junior varsity. And that's problematic, considering Jim Harbaugh makes Kaepernick drop straight back about 90 percent of the time.

You saw issues with Kaepernick's footwork against the Falcons Monday night.

His second pass of the game he threw off his back foot, and it almost got picked off. He threw off his back foot at least three times against the Falcons, and he attempted just 21 passes.

Kaepernick has a tendency to throw off his back foot on short throws, and to over-stride on long throws. Quarterbacks can't stride 6 or 7 feet like Tim Lincecum, because quarterbacks don't have a mound. When Kaepernick over-strides, he looks like he's reverting to his pitching mechanics – he played baseball in high school, and the Cubs drafted him to be a pitcher.

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