Kaepernick's triumph didn't go as planned

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Kaepernick's triumph didn't go as planned

FOXBORO -- It ended up being the difference in the game: A 38-yard touchdown strike from Colin Kaepernick to Michael Crabtree with 6:25 left in the fourth quarter. It snapped a Patriots streak of 28 consecutive points and put the 49ers ahead, 38-31, in a game they eventually won, 41-34.
And to think, that wasn't even how the play was drawn up.
"It was a nice job by Colin," said 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh afterwards. "That was not where he was supposed to go with the ball. It wasn't the intent of the play. But he saw what he saw and kicked it out to Michael, and Michael made a huge play."
After the Patriots battled back from a 31-3 deficit to tie the game at 31-31, LaMichael James returned a kickoff 62 yards down to the Patriots' 38-yard line.
That set up Kaepernick's lone play on the next drive. It was a short comeback route for Crabtree on the left side that caught Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington off-guard. Kaepernick found Crabtree, who then turned and took the ball 38 yards down the left sideline into the end zone untouched.
And everybody admitted the play wasn't meant to go to Crabtree.
"That was just another option in the play," said Kaepernick. "I saw Crabtree one-on-one with the matchup. I liked it, he's a great player and makes a lot of great plays. And he did on that play."
Kaepernick finished the game 14-of-25 for 216 yards with four touchdowns and an interception. It was just the fifth start of his NFL career. So going into Tom Brady's building was kind of a big deal.
"It is a little bit crazy, a little bit surreal," said Kaepernick after the win. "But I'm just trying to keep my head down and try to keep it going as long as I can."
Kaepernick did that, and he did it in tough conditions.
Not only did he do it in an improbable place like New England. But he also helped put up 41 points in a brutally wet and rainy Gillette Stadium.
"It was a real tough environment," said Harbaugh. "It was raining the entire game. But he did a nice job powering the ball through the elements, and through the defense at times. He didn't make every play, but that's a good football team we played."
Because of the weather, Kaepernick fumbled four snaps from center. But he recovered all of them.
"Just a wet ball, mishandling it," said Kapernick. "One hundred percent my fault."
"Yeah, we were having some difficulties there," said Harbaugh. "We just kept working at it, talking about it. The ball was hitting and squirting off Kaepernick's hand. He moved his guide hand, his left hand a little further to the right, and his top hand a little further to the right, and that helped."
Kaepernick didn't let the weather affect his mindset. He also didn't let his lone interception affect him much. After getting picked off by Devin McCourty when he tried to force one down the middle of the field early in the third quarter, Kaepernick showed his confidence driving the team down field to score a touchdown. Then he went right back to the same throw two possessions later, hitting Crabtree over the middle in between two defenders for a 27-yard strike and a touchdown that put San Francisco up 31-3.
"I was very impressed," said Harbaugh. "After you throw an interception -- I haven't done a study on this, but I just feel this in my bones -- that after you throw an interception, it's very hard to lead a touchdown drive the next possession, and basically step back in there, throw a ball right down the middle, which he had done the previous possession and had it intercepted. That takes some gravel in the guts, and talent of course, because he had to power that ball through the elements and the defense. I think it says a lot."
Kaepernick didn't have much to say after the game. He gave short answers and was straight to the point, especially when it came time to answer questions about his game-winning touchdown pass to Crabtree, which answered and one-upped Brady in his own building.
"This is my 17th year of football," he said. "I've been playing since I was 8 years old. So, to me, when I go out there, I'm going to throw it to the guy who's open. You try to keep football simple so your mind can be clear when you're on the field."
Kaepernick didn't have to say much after the game. He did all his talking on the field.

Brady: Preseason reps help you adapt to the speed of the game

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Brady: Preseason reps help you adapt to the speed of the game

FOXBORO -- It's clear that Tom Brady wants to play at some point this preseason. What's a little less clear is what he thinks he stands to gain from preseason game reps in August when he won't be playing meaningful snaps until October. 

After explaining why he missed Thursday's preseason game with the Bears, which he was scheduled to start, Brady was asked on Tuesday if he feels as though he needs game reps before matching up with the Browns in Week 5.

"I don’t think any of them hurt," he said. "I think just do the best you can do. We’re preparing a lot of guys to get ready to play. I fit into that, but so do a lot of other guys. I’m just taking the advice of coach [Bill Belichick], and whatever he wants to do. I’m going to do everything I can to be ready to go when I am called upon. That’s what my responsibility is so that’s what I’m preparing to do."

If the only benefit of having Brady play against the Panthers in the third preseason game amounts to, "Well, couldn't hurt..." then it would come as some surprise if Belichick opted to play Brady anyway. Because it could hurt. It could hurt quite a bit should something flukey happen and Brady ends up worse off than he was after his recent run-in with a pair of scissors. 

Former assistant to the Patriots coaching staff Mike Lombardi, told WEEI recently that Brady needs to work in a preseason game before serving his four-game suspension. Why? 

"The speed of the game changes," Lombardi said. "You have practices against the Bears, but it’s kind of simulated and controlled. I think Tom wants to get the flow of the game . . . Because it’s the third preseason game, Jimmy [Garoppolo] is probably going to play as much into the third quarter as possible, and then you don’t want to put Tom out there with a lot of other guys that perhaps won’t make the team. The second game was kind of a game where he should have played a little bit to get his feet wet. He’s not going to play the fourth game against the New York Giants. That’s going to be Jacoby Brissett’s game. 

"I think [the Bears game] was the time, and that’s why [Brady] was going to play. Obviously something happened with the injury and that’s why he didn’t play . . . I know Tom needs to play in the preseason. He’s not just going to go waltz onto the field and feel the game is going to come right to him."

It feels as though Brady, after 16 years in the NFL, would be able to adapt to the speed of the game relatively quickly with or without preseason reps. But Brady expressed an opinion similar to that of Lombardi when asked about the difference between preseason snaps and practice snaps. He's seen plenty of the latter against the Bears, Saints and his own teammates.

"Well, I think you’re getting hit so just the space awareness, guys around you and ball security and things like that," Brady said. "For whatever, the last 30 practices, quarterbacks aren’t touched. Just standing there in the pocket, holding the ball knowing that they’re coming to get the ball and knock it out of your hands, hitting the ground, those types of things and so forth are important.

"You just have to feel things out, and the game is really the only place to get it because it’s regular speed. You don’t know what’s coming. We prepare, but we don’t obviously get to walk through the looks that we’re going to get. When you get out there you just have to make good decisions and go play quarterback the way that I’ve always tried to do."

Maybe it's to adapt to the pace of the game. Maybe it's to be faced with the real threat of contact. Maybe it's just because he can't stand not to be on the field when the Patriots are playing. Either way, Brady obviously hopes that he'll play on Friday night in Carolina. 

The question now is are the benefits great enough that Belichick will allow him to?

McAdam: Will this be Clay Buchholz's last start?

McAdam: Will this be Clay Buchholz's last start?

With Wright and Rodriguez set to return, Sean McAdam joins SNC to discuss whether Tuesday’s game against the Rays will be the last start for Clay Buchholz.