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Cohn: Kaepernick more gifted than Smith

  • San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) passes against the San Diego Chargers during the first quarter of an NFL preseason football game in San Francisco, Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

SAN FRANCISCO

Colin Kaerpernick is a more gifted quarterback than Alex Smith. Not a better quarterback. More gifted.

Eventually, Kaepernick also will be a better quarterback than Smith — it could happen this season.

NFL Cheerleaders, Preseason

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On Thursday night in the fourth exhibition game — the one that means almost nothing — Kaepernick once again demonstrated his gifts. Call them prodigious.

Here's what happened. Smith made a cameo appearance, coming in and handing off five times. That was appropriate because you don't want your starting quarterback squashed in a game like that. So, see you later, Alex, and keep well.

After that, Kaepernick came into the game in the middle of the first drive. Kind of unusual. The drive ended with a touchdown run by Anthony Dixon who absolutely must make the 53-man squad. But one pass by Kaepernick stood out. He rolled left — sprinted actually — and as he ran, he threw across his body to fullback Bruce Miller for nine yards.

It was a beautiful throw and it's Kaepernick's signature throw — toss that sucker while his body goes one way and his arm goes the other, an impossible maneuver. No one does it better than him in the entire league. Certainly not Alex Smith. Not even close.

OK, cut to the 49ers' next offensive series. It was against the Chargers' first-team defense and it was a Kaepernick showcase. On first down at the Chargers' 32, he threw a deep, low line drive leading Brett Swain down the right sideline. It was a bullet and it was on the money, and Swain let it slide through his hands. It was an exceptional throw Swain should have caught. And let's be dead honest, the Niners need exceptional deep throws because, with their incumbent running the offense, they have a lack in that department.

On the very next play, Kaepernick executed a bootleg. He avoided some tacklers, ran left and threw a guided missile over a linebacker and right into the eager hands of Delanie Walker who tiptoed along the left sideline into the end zone — touchdown. It was another exceptional throw showcasing Kaepernick's exceptional arm strength — certainly greater than Smith's arm strength. No question about it.

None of this is to say Kaepernick should be the starter. Nothing like that. Smith is more experienced. He reads the defense better before the play starts, although Kaepernick is more decisive, more daring once the ball gets snapped. And the offense currently is oriented to the game-manager, don't-screw-it-up-for-heaven's sake style of Smith. We know all that.


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