San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is officially the new darling of the national media.
A scrum of reporters surrounded Kaepernick Thursday during the team's "open locker room" hour for the press at their Santa Clara facility.
Bay Area reporters were joined by the national media and asked him about his faith, his tattoos and his game plan for the Baltimore Ravens.
Kaepernick was already "the interview" to get for the gathered media, and that was before he had lunch delivered to the crowded press trailer in the form of 15 pizzas from Pizza My Heart.
All of this attention for a second-year player is mostly unwelcomed.
He'd just assume avoid answering questions from the media all together and is guarded in his short, measured responses.
The short answers are nothing new to beat reporters who have covered Kaepernick from the start. In his first press conference after being named the starting quarterback, reporters counted the number of words he used to answer the first three questions.
The number was 17.
Their is improvement. The first three questions were answered with 29 words today.
The Super Bowl will only be the tenth professional start for Kaepernick, who joined the 49ers out of college in 2011.
Here's the media scrum from Santa Clara.
Hey Colin, what is it like to wake up as Colin Kaepernick these days, pinched yourself yet?
“It’s the same as it was six months ago.”
Did you expect when you took over the starting job that you’d be standing here, still playing in February?
“I was hoping so.”
How have you been able to handle all of this? Just seems the stages get bigger and bigger and is there something or someone, whatever it is, that’s helped you get through all the pressure that’s been on you the last six, seven, eight weeks?
“I just try to keep my head down, keep working and not worry about anything else.”
Do you remember growing up watching a specific Super Bowl and kind of that moment where you’re like, I want to be there someday? And if so, which game was it?
“I can’t say an exact Super Bowl. I just remember watching a lot of them growing up.”
With the 49ers legacy here with QB Joe Montana and QB Steve Young, have you had a chance to meet those guys or appreciate what they’ve done here?
“Yeah, I’ve met both of them, talked with both of them briefly. They did great things here.”
Steve came down and interviewed you yesterday, right?
Did he give you any pointers on how to handle the coming 10 days?
“Just keep going.”
I have to ask you a question about your tattoos, which one is your favorite and why?
“Probably the one on the inside of my arms, it says ‘my gift is my curse.’ I just feel like that’s something that applies to my life in many different ways.”
“Being an NFL quarterback, there’s a lot of advantages that come with it. There are a lot of doors that open when you’re a quarterback, but at the same time you’re under a lot of scrutiny. There are a lot of things you can’t do as well.”
Speaking of which, I know your tattoo guy in Reno, his business has kind of elevated since your star has kind of risen. Can you just talk about your relationship with him and how did you find him and how did you kind of learn how to trust a guy like that, that needs to do all that work on your body?
“I met him through a friend in college. I had him do one piece, I really liked it and I have been going to him ever since.”
When did you get the gift is your curse one?
A lot of words out of Turlock these days about you and nothing but good things being said. How important is it to you that people at home still think so positively about you?
“That means a lot. That’s where I’m from, that’s where my roots are. The fact that people that I grew up with are still saying good things about me is a good sign.”
Head coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman talk a lot about your confidence. Where does that come from?
“Just being prepared.”
Do you see yourself ‘Kaepernicking’ a lot on Super Bowl Sunday?
“I don’t know. I hope so.”
Is that the tattoo that you’re kissing when you’re doing that? The one you were talking about before? Or which one are you?
“I have ‘faith’ down my right bicep and I have ‘to God the glory’ on my right arm as well.”
And so when you’re doing that, that’s the one you’re?
What does that mean to you in terms of just your faith and what you’ve come through, as far as hitting that tattoo?
“Number one is kind of my way of saying, I don’t really care what people think about my tattoos. I got them for me and to show people this is what I believe in. God has brought me this far, he’s laid out a phenomenal path for me and I can’t do anything but thank him.”
How different has it been playing in the playoffs than in the regular season starts, the intensity, all of that sort of stuff? How have you been able to handle it so well?
“You just have to prepare, that’s the biggest thing. If you’re prepared going into a game, you’ll be confident when you go out there.”
How are expectations now, playing on this stage, going to be different than any other game you’ve played before?
“I wouldn’t say I have an expectation for it. I’m just going to keep working and see what happens.”
I don’t know if you saw but QB Alex Smith had some really nice things to say about you. He’s obviously a part of your fan club. How important has it been, in what could be a sticky situation, to have him be handling it the way he’s handled it?
“It means a lot. I think it really shows his character and the kind of man he is. He’s helped me through everything, from Week One till now.”
Whose idea was it to do the trademarking of Kaepernicking?
“That was my agent.”
Has the NFL come down on you for that?
“I don’t know.”
Given the fact that you weren’t heavily recruited in college and your fast start here, does that give you extra fuel, extra motivation?
“I don’t know. I’m just working, trying to make sure I’m ready for the next game.”
Can I ask you a question about the Baltimore Ravens? Just your initial thoughts on the matchup and what you’ve seen from them on tape?
“Very physical defense, they’re a veteran defense. They know what they’re doing. When there are holes in the defense, they know where the holes are, so they’re going to try to cover them up the best way they can.”
What are your thoughts on playing against Ravens LB Ray Lewis?
“He’s a phenomenal player. He’s been doing it for I think more years than anybody in the league right now. You can’t say enough about the guy.”
Do you think he still strikes intimidation at this point where he is in his career, even within you?
“I’m not one to try to get intimidated. I’m just going out to play. Ray Lewis has kind of been the icon of what a linebacker is supposed to be and how the intensity of the game is supposed to be.”
How many ticket requests have you gotten?
Can you fulfill them all?
Do you remember what you were doing last Super Bowl Sunday?
“Watching the game. I don’t remember where I was at.”
How much do you expect to run the ball this week? You kind of had two different games the last two weeks for running. How much do you expect to be used that way?
“I don’t know, it depends on what the coaches call.”