Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh congratulates Colin Kaepernick after he scored against the Jets. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Colin Kaepernick says the 49ers don’t have a catchy nickname for it.
“We just go out and run plays,” he told reporters after Sunday’s 34-0 victory over the Jets, in which he ran five times for 50 yards and a touchdown. “We don’t have any special name for it.”
But if Kaepernick continues to produce as a special-situation quarterback in the wildcat formation as he did Sunday, you can bet a “special name” will soon surface.
Already, some are calling the Niners’ version of the wildcat the "Wild Kaep."
Whatever it’s called, it seems to work.
On Sunday, Kaepernick, the second-year quarterback from Nevada, replaced starting QB Alex Smith on several occasions and ran from the shotgun formation, taking a direct snap. He picked up 17 yards on his first carry, a read-option play, then scored San Francisco’s first touchdown of the game on a 7-yard sweep to the left, following a wall of big bodies.
Kaepernick even lined up at one point as a wide receiver.
With his performance Sunday, the former college star – who ran for more than 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons – will give opposing defenses something extra to think about when they prepare for the Niners.
As San Francisco Chronicle columnist Scott Ostler noted, “Kaepernick vaulted into the No. 1 spot in my NFL Wild Card Guy rankings, ahead of (Tim) Tebow.”
Kaepernick has tremendous athletic ability – good speed and a strong arm – and gives defenses a much different look than when Smith is at the team’s controls. At 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, Kaepernick is both strong and quick, as he showed in the preseason when sprinting to a 78-yard touchdown.
After Sunday’s game, Smith said the 49ers have been incorporating Kaepernick’s “Wild Kaep” into the game planning this season, but on Sunday the situations actually called for it to be used.
In the season opener vs. Green Bay, Kaepernick was in for one play and picked up 17 yards on his lone carry. But Sunday he played an even bigger role.
“This isn’t the first week we’ve given Kaepernick a package,” Smith told Bay Area News Group columnist Monte Poole. “He’s had some plays. You just don’t know when it’s going to get called. This was the week.”
Head coach Jim Harbaugh said he went to Kaepernick for “some creativity.”
“It behooves the team when you can get as many guys a role in the game as possible at any position,” he told the media.
Kaepernick actually could have scored another touchdown late in the game, but slid on the 3-yard line to burn off more of the clock.
Kaepernick says he’s hoping the Niners use him more and more as the season progresses.
He also said he’s not worried about being compared to the Jets’ Tebow – or any other wildcat-style quarterback.
“I want to be me,” he told reporters after the game. “That’s all I’m worried about. I want to go out there and play like myself.”