Despite all those gaudy statistics and impressive physical skills, Colin Kaepernick faced plenty of questions coming out of Nevada about whether he was the product of a gimmicky college offense that would have no chance of working in the pros.
On the big stage of the NFL playoffs, Kaepernick is demonstrating just what he and that pistol offense are capable of against the toughest competition.
With scintillating runs in the option game and downfield passes with his powerful right arm, Kaepernick has the 49ers back in the NFC Championship Game for a second straight year and has given more credibility to the offense designed by his college coach less than a decade ago.
“At first they said, that’s just a college offense,” said former Nevada coach Chris Ault, who invented the offense and used it in college with Kaepernick. “Lo and behold, somebody came out and said you can do that in the NFL every so often. The NFL has been such a copycat league. The formation has expanded the landscape of football collegiately and pro wise. The pros see advantages of what you can do with these mobile quarterbacks in the pistol.”
Never had it been more effective than it was in San Francisco’s 45-31 win last week against Green Bay. Kaepernick set a quarterback record with 181 yards rushing on 16 carries, scoring on a 20-yard scramble and 56-yard sprint off a zone read play. He also threw for 263 yards and two touchdowns, exploiting whatever opening the Packers gave him.
The Niners have added new wrinkles with tight ends in the backfield, more play-action out of the pistol and different motions to deceive the defense.
“It’s a nightmare, especially when you have a guy who can run 4.4, 4.3, a guy who can outrun defensive backs or linebackers,” Niners safety Donte Whitner said. “You really don’t know where the football is going against this read-option stuff. You really don’t know until you finally see it.”