According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the San Francisco 49ers plan to “unleash” Colin Kaepernick in Sunday’s opener against the Green Bay Packers. The 49ers were reportedly protecting Kaepernick during the preseason by preventing him from scrambling and rushing. In 40 preseason snaps he ran the ball one time.
Hence, the unleashing of Kaepernick.
The Packers and Kaepernick have a brief history that favors the 49ers. Last year in the playoffs Colin Kaepernick putted up 444 total yards against the Packers including an NFL record 181 yards on the ground.
This will be the first full season for Kaepernick as an NFL starter. In 7 games last season he completed 62.4% of his passes for 1,814 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also ran the ball 63 time for 415 yards.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh isn’t thrilled with the league’s ruling on hitting quarterbacks that are running read-option plays, but apparently that won’t prevent him from unleashing Kaepernick.
“I believe that when a quarterback is handing a ball off or faking a ball, in the read-option case he’s reading on an option play, he’s as defenseless as a quarterback who’s in the act of throwing,” Harbaugh said, via CBS Sports. “And I’m not advocating that they don’t hit the quarterback if he has the ball, but when he’s in the pocket I believe there should be a strike zone. The same strike zone that is given to the quarterback when he’s in the pocket and throwing the ball.”
Even after the ball is pitched Kaepernick could still be hit.
“[The quarterback] is still treated as a runner until he is clearly out of the play. The quarterback makes the pitch, he’s still a runner — he can be hit like a runner until he’s clearly out of the play,” NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino said.