Belichick considers Kaepernick's impact

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Belichick considers Kaepernick's impact

FOXBORO - For four-plus games, Colin Kaepernick has been the 49ers starter.

San Francisco won three, lost one and tied the one game in which Kaepernick relieved an injured Alex Smith.

Good start. But listening to Bill Belichick on Wednesday, it seemed as if the Patriots head coach wasn't comfortable sending too much adulation to Kaepernick just yet. Not enough evidence submitted.

For instance, asked if Kaepernick is "reading the field well," which is something Niners coach Jim Harbaugh credited Kaepernick with, Belichick said, "Hes had limited opportunities. I think you certainly see it at times. Im sure if Coach Harbaugh said it, Im sure its right. Hes with him every day. Hes really started the last what, four games? Weve seen him have opportunities to do it but not as many as theyve seen. I think hes done it to a degree. Hes a young, improving quarterback. It looks like he gets better each week and probably plays with more confidence and does things a little bit better each week. But, I wouldnt disagree with (Coach Harbaugh)."
There's no doubt Kaepernick brings a dynamic to the Niners that Smith didn't. Kaepernick is an electric athlete (with a bold, classical music soundtrack). He's able to test a defense both with his arm and his legs and he's a hard player to tackle. Smith, a former No. 1 overall pick, has mobility, but not to the same degree Kaepernick does.

Above all that, though, Kaepernick has shown two of the qualities Belichick stresses.

Kaepernick is accurate (completing 67 percent of his passes) and has made good decisions routinely (three touchdowns, one interception).

"I could probably go out there and read the field decently but I dont think youd want me playing quarterback," said Belichick. "There are other guys that can thread a needle but maybe not see as well. I think the combination of seeing the field, making good decisions and accuracy is really what it comes down to more than some other qualities. Not that those arent important, but I would put those at the top of the list."

With Kaepernick, the Niners are running with a full-house backfield, pressuring defenses to defend multiple potential ballcarriers in addition to receivers.

"They attack you everywhere; everybody has to do a good job (defensively)," said Belichick. "They can run inside, they can run outside, they can keep it, they play-action off it. Really, everybody has to be at the point of attack. No one player can stop it, no one guy can. Eleven guys have to play good team defense. Im sure thats why theyre doing it is to try to put stress on every player on the defense and they do." Belichick was asked if Kaepernick was unique in that he not only runs fast, but also runs with strength.

"I think we saw that with Tim Tebow last year. He was a guy that broke a lot of tackles, ran the ball inside, he was more like a running back," Belichick countered. "I think each player has their own individual style. Guys do some things, other guys there are a lot of different ways to be effective. But it looks like he can certainly out-run the defense. He has good speed, he has some quickness, he has some running skill. Its not just speed."

Belichick didn't opine on whether he believed the move from Smith to Kaepernick was the right one. No surprise there. But he did reveal his bottom-line philosophy when he was asked what a coach takes into consideration when making a quarterback switch.

"To win. There are no other considerations. ... Thats the only thing were really here for is to win. What else is there? I dont know. What else is there to talk about?"

Another big swing and miss from NYDN's Manish Mehta on the Patriots

Another big swing and miss from NYDN's Manish Mehta on the Patriots

Every few months, our buddy Manish Mehta gets suitably bored or his bosses at the New York Daily News get sufficiently impatient with him and he goes off with some prediction that winds up being the absolute direct opposite of what actually happens.

He would be like the drippy-nosed kid at his own birthday party trying to bust open the piñata for an uncomfortable length of time. Except, eventually, somebody takes pity on that kid. With Manish, nobody ever feels bad and he’s left out there swinging long after the party’s over and everyone’s gone home.

Tom Brady’s suspension has provided multiple opportunities for Manish to walk into screen doors.

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First, after Brady bailed in July on taking his suspension to the SCOTUS, Mehta spun it forward and said the Jets would be looking real good after four games with Jimmy Garoppolo driving the bus.

Brady will be in full-fledged F.U. mode by the time he faces the Jets for the first time in Week 12. But what if the Patriots start off winless or 1-3 with Garoppolo? Will Brady's greatness be enough to overcome such a sluggish start given that his team has the second toughest strength of schedule in the AFC (behind the Jets and just ahead of the Bills and Dolphins)?

"I feel like, in this division, you got to win 10-plus games, maybe 11-plus games," Decker said. "That means you almost have to go perfect the rest of the year (after a 1-3 start). You can be in a situation where you play a hard Sunday game and, all of sudden, you got a (quick turnaround) on a Thursday night. … You can factor those things in and make a case that it's more difficult to go on a run after starting 1-3."

After the Patriots started 2-0 and Garoppolo broke, Mehta waded in again.

Not even the greatest football mind of the generation will be able to wiggle out of this jam.

The Patriots face a new reality now that Jimmy Garoppolo wrecked his shoulder on Sunday: The Evil Empire will be looking up at the Jets in the AFC East standings when Tom Brady returns….

(Jacoby) Brissett has been a NFL player for FIVE MONTHS. He'll have THREE DAYS to prepare for his first start. Belichick is brilliant, but let's be realistic. He's not going to climb this mountain.

Friday, Manish made a Mehta Culpa in the New York Daily News and on CSN's SportsNet Central. His prediction of Brissett going bellyup and the Patriots being behind the Jets by the time Brady made his return was, “one giant swing and a miss,” wrote Mehta.

“I was wrong like pre-Socratic philosophers, who thought the world was flat. I was wrong like the Chicago Daily Tribune headline writer, who prematurely buried Truman in '48. I was wrong like Lex Luthor, who thought he could destroy Superman three or four hundred times.

Mehta got an avalanche of “You’re a ******* moooooorrrrrrooooonnnnn!!!!” tweets Thursday night. This was his blanket attempt to say, “Yes. Yes I am.”

And for a second, you worry. Is Manish done? Has he taken his blindfold off, put down his stick and gone into the house for good? No more wild swings and misses?

And then you realize it is his raison d’etre. He’ll be back. And – like this guy – he’ll be gloriously mistaken.