Harbaugh: 49ers added plays to utilize Kaepernick
Jim Harbaugh: "Delanie will want to get on the Jugs (machine) and make sure he's catching those balls." (USA TODAY IMAGES)
SANTA CLARA -- Coach Jim Harbaugh knows as well as anyone how difficult it can be to catch one of Colin Kaepernick's passes.
Harbaugh said he routinely drops some of Kaepernick's darts during pregame warmups. And he sees improvement from his team in adjusting to Kaepernick's high-velocity throws. Kaepernick's passes were measured at 59 mph at the NFL scouting combine in 2011. As a high school pitcher, he routinely clocked in the low-90s.
Perhaps nobody has struggled as much as tight end Delanie Walker, who had a couple catchable passes slip through his hands Saturday in the 49ers' 45-31 victory over the Green Bay Packers in an NFC divisional playoff game.
For the season, Walker dropped nine of the 37 passes in which he was targeted, according to Pro Football Focus.
"He's caught a lot of passes, too. And it's something we'll look at it, and Delanie will want to get on the Jugs (machine) and make sure he's catching those balls," Harbaugh said of Walker, who caught 21 passes for 344 yards and three touchdowns in the regular season.
When asked if some of his players have a difficult time catching passes from Kaepernick, Harbaugh said, "I know I do in pregame. I got to wear gloves and I still drop a few. It gets on you real fast."
Harbaugh said he sees the team's pass-catchers learning how to adapt to Kaepernick's throws.
"I definitely see the guys adjusting to Colin's throws,"Harbaugh said. "As you expect through repetition in practice that would occur. It's been tremendous. Michael Crabtree, there's a guy -- name a guy who catches the ball better. All he does continue to do is catch and catch and catch the ball. So a tremendous game by him."
Over the past six games, Crabtree has caught 44 passes for 657 yards and six touchdowns. The other six wide receivers and tight ends -- Randy Moss, Ted Ginn, A.J. Jenkins, Vernon Davis, Walker and Garrett Celek -- have combined for just 35 catches for 524 yards and one touchdown during that period.
One of Kaepernick's best plays -- in a game filled with exceptional plays -- was a soft throw he made to running back Frank Gore that came on a third-and-10 and resulted in a 45-yard gain against Packers defensive back Charles Woodson.
"Colin's got the ability to put touch on the ball as well," Harbaugh said. "You saw the ball he threw to Frank Gore, running to his left out of the pocket, he was a threat to run or throw at that point. He kept his eyes up the field and laid a feathered ball in there for Frank, and that created a big play in the game.
"There were throws that were piercing, once again in this game, when he powered the ball through the defense to Randy in the middle of the field and to Vernon Davis, 45-50 yards the ball was in the air on a line and to a spot. heck of a grab by Vernon on that particular play."