Sunday, March 9, 2014
The Associated Press
(Continued from page 1)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, left, hands off to running back Frank Gore during the second quarter of an NFL football game against the St. Louis Rams Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
The 36th overall pick in the 2011 draft then calmly stepped under center and inherited the starting role even with Smith healthy enough to return.
"This guy, he can throw the football, he has a strong arm, he's pretty accurate. For the most part, he makes pretty good decisions," said New England nose tackle Vince Wilfork. "To be playing only a couple of weeks, he makes some good plays for this team."
The Patriots defense, however, poses perhaps the most formidable test yet for the mobile quarterback.
Their run defense is eighth in the league, surrendering just more than 100 yards a game. And while the unit still ranks 29th against the pass, it has vastly improved since the acquisition of cornerback Aqib Talib, who has played in four games for the AFC East champions. New England has won seven straight, including a dominating 42-14 victory over the first-place Houston Texans on Monday.
"Defensively, turnovers and points allowed, that's really what decides the game," McCourty said. "We can pull up a bunch of different stats, but how many points have you given up and try to take the ball away. So for us, it stays the same throughout the season.
"We'll have our work cut out for us this week. This team and this offense, they do a good job of taking care of the ball, so we're really going to have to try to go out there and make our own plays in the passing game and running game."
For the 49ers to win, so will Kaepernick.