|(Super Bowl) Niners playmaker bets on running game
San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has emerged as the heir to 49ers greats Joe Montana and Steve Young, says he does not feel any added pressure heading into Super Bowl 47 on Sunday in New Orleans.
The 25-year-old, in only his second season in the National Football League, does however possess a burning desire to win, AFP’s Greg Heakes reports.
“Pressure comes from a lack of preparation,’’ said Kaepernick, who surprised many this season by leading the 49ers to their first NFL championship game in 18 years.
“This isn’t going to be a pressure situation. It is going to be a matter of going out there and performing physically.’’
Kaepernick has exceeded expectations since being handed the starting quarterback job on November 19 when Alex Smith went out with a concussion.
In Sunday's Super Bowl at the Superdome in New Orleans, he will be going up against the Baltimore Ravens, who are led by another star quarterback, Joe Flacco.
But while Flacco is in his sixth season, this will be just the 10th NFL start for Kaepernick.
Kaepernick has the third fewest regular season starts of any quarterback to reach a Super Bowl.
The only two quarterbacks with fewer starts heading into a Super Bowl were Vince Ferragamo of the Los Angeles Rams (five in the 1979 season) and Jeff Hostetler of the New York Giants (four in the 1990 season).
Kaepernick did not even have a set spot on the roster heading into the season. He was in the running for the backup quarterback position but had to compete against several others at training camp for the job.
“At the start of the season, I was just hoping to get on the field some way, somehow,’’ Kaepernick said.
The 49ers are in their first Super Bowl since the 1994 season when Kaepernick was just seven years old. Young guided them to a 49-26 win over San Diego that season. Montana is a four-time Super Bowl champion.
Things looked bleak for San Francisco at mid-season when Smith lost the starting role due to the concussion.
Kaepernick went 5-2 in the regular season after being promoted by coach Jim Harbaugh. He then rallied his team from a 17-0 hole against the Atlanta Falcons for a 28-24 win in the NFC championship game.
Kaepernick is part of a influx of young, mobile quarterbacks in the same mold as Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins. His running skills have been one of the keys to his success; he does the 40-yard sprint in 4.5 seconds.
“It freezes them a little bit,’’ Kaepernick said of his running game. “It gives you a little bit more time, even if it's just a split second, and that's an advantage for the offense.’’
Flacco, whose contract expires after the Super Bowl, brought down two legends en route to the championship game.
He led the Ravens past Peyton Manning's heavily-favored Denver Broncos 38-35 in the quarter-finals and then threw for 240 yards in a convincing 28-13 win over Tom Brady's New England Patriots in the AFC championship game.
Flacco threw for three touchdowns, including one with 31 seconds remaining in the fourth against the Broncos that tied the game and sent it into overtime. Justin Tucker kicked a game-winning 47-yard field goal in the second overtime.
“There's really no real way to explain it,’’ Flacco said of the Denver game. “It was an incredible game to be a part of. I think both sides played really hard and it turned out crazy. “I don't know if it will ever happen again that way but we're glad it did.’’
While Kaepernick is the new kid on the block, Flacco has had his share of critics, earning him the tag as someone who couldn't get the job done in crunch time.
But this season, he's been Joe Cool.