Kaepernick is the 49ers' latest QB savant

Harbaugh on Kaep: 'He's got a good grasp of the game plan'

Kaepernick is the 49ers' latest QB savant
January 7, 2013, 1:15 pm
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Jim Harbaugh on Colin Kaepernick: "He's got a good grasp of the game plan so far." (USA TODAY IMAGES)

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers' coaching staff has presented Colin Kaepernick with the first portion of the team's offensive game plan against the Green Bay Packers.

And coach Jim Harbaugh is already pleased with what he has seen from his starting quarterback.

"I think it'll be a big challenge. And one that Colin is very excited about," Harbaugh said Monday. "He's so far -- now it's early -- but expectations will be high that he will be on it as well.

"He's got a good grasp of the game plan so far. I'm excited that he's . . . it's a bit savant-like, you know, the way he's handling it so far this week. So that's really encouraging."

When the 49ers defeated the Packers in the opening week of the regular season, Harbaugh pointed out how then-starting quarterback Alex Smith performed exceptionally well from a mental standpoint. Harbaugh praised Alex Smith for using his legs, arm and mind to help the team exit Lambeau Field with a 30-22 victory.

Two weeks earlier, 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman referred to Smith as a savant.

"He understands all the different things that we do and he's really, really, really intelligent, bright football player," Roman said of Smith in late-August. "Really intelligent. He is super smart, savant-like at times."

Smith is now the backup, as the 49ers have moved on to Kaepernick, who will make his first playoff start on Saturday at Candlestick Park against the Packers. The 49ers present the game plan in pieces to the players throughout the week, as the team installs its situational packages. So far, Kaepernick has a firm grasp of his responsibilities, Harbaugh said.

"Just that it's so early in the preparation and so early in explaining the game plan, but just his understanding of it this early in the week," Harbaugh said of Kaepernick. "The way he's understanding it is savant-like, yeah."