Denver Broncos | News

Breaking down the 49ers offense

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Colin Kaepernick will pass the football over you. He will pass it through you, into tight windows. And then he will run it under you, and by the time you react, he's 10 or more yards upfield.

Once again, the Broncos defense prepares for a mobile quarterback. But the 49ers' Kaepernick might be the most explosive of the young generation at his position. He is one of the game's quickest at reading blitzes -- to the point that he is a more effective passer when blitzed than otherwise. The dual threat of his feet and arm has much to do with it.

"He's dangerous when he's running," said Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. "He's not like other quarterbacks that have been running and try to slide. He kind of runs to try to make a big play out of it, so that's something that we have to be aware of. The D-line has to do a good job of working together and being able to keep him in the pocket and we're going to have to cover a lot longer."

Pressure does not faze Kaepernick; if anything, it opens options if not executed.

"You have to be a smart rusher," said Broncos defensive end DeMarcus Ware. "It's all about cage rushing. You can sort of push the pocket, but you always have to have good pocket presence. But when you're rushing the passer you have to know where he is and how far he can run, at the end of the day, and know your own abilities.

"If you let the B-gap wide open he can string you for 20 yards and that's what is going to keep the ball going. There's a lot of plays where it should be some type of passing play and he'll run the ball so everybody has to make sure they're doing their responsibility. It's really just looking at it that way and playing a fundamentally sound game."

On the ground, Kaepernick's 7.7 yards-per-carry average leads all quarterbacks. He and Seattle's Russell Wilson are the only quarterbacks with at least two runs of 20 or more yards. That forces defensively to play conservatively, whether against the run or the pass, and opens up lanes for the pass catchers and running back Frank Gore alike.

"You have a two headed monster when you have Gore in there running the ball," said Ware. "They're always going to try and grind it out and get third and short so they can run the ball but then you have Kaepernick that can really string plays out, they have the read plays. They have a lot of dynamic plays that try to make them really explosive."

And that has helped improve Kaepernick's passing statistics. His completion percentage of 64.3 would be the best of his career, if he maintains the pace for the balance of the season. His touchdown-to-interception ratio of 10-4 through six games is also on pace to be his best.

A deep, experienced collection of receivers helps. With Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree, Stevie Johnson and Brandon Lloyd, the 49ers can use four-wide receiver formations that force mismatches. Lloyd has the fewest targets of the quartet (16), but leads the 49ers in yardage per reception (27.0) after his 80-yard touchdown last Monday in St. Louis.

Tight end Vernon Davis returned last Monday from a back injury and caught three passes for 30 yards, but continues to work back into form. He has not scored since catching two touchdown passes at Dallas in Week 1.

But no matter who catches the passes, containing the 49ers is all about Kaepernick and making him uncomfortable -- something that becomes more difficult to do with each passing year.

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