As the San Francisco 49ers (1-0) prepare for their home opener against the Chicago Bears (0-1), it will be a game for the ages. The 49ers who will officially break in Levi’s Stadium, as they play their first regular-season game at the new $1.2 billion venue, the question remains how will franchise quarterback QB Colin Kaepernick fare?
In his first career NFL start, Kaepernick showed the Forever Faithful his potential, as he went 16 of 23 for 243 yards and two touchdowns. A magical night and one in which ultimately ended QB Alex Smith’s tenure with the team, it’s Kaepernick who will again make history, as he plays his first game at Levi’s against who else, the Bears. The team that Kaepernick played in Week 11 on Monday Night Football in 2012, it will be the Bears who will have to face Kaepernick once again. And while it may be a coincidence, Kaepernick’s rise as a franchise quarterback isn’t.
In the season opener, Kaepernick looked like a poised veteran beyond his years as he went 16 of 23 for 201 yards and two touchdowns. Not to mention, Kaepernick utilized his dual threat ability as he improvised on the run, it was Kaepernick who looked the part of an All-Pro quarterback. But how will he fare against a new-look Bears defense the second-time around? Extremely well.
Back in 2012, Kaepernick was faced against Rod Marinelli’s 4-3 base, this time Kaepernick will go up against Mel Tucker’s 4-3 base one-gap scheme.
A revamped defense with plenty of new faces on that side of the ball including four-time All-Pro DE Jared Allen, DE Lamarr Houston, DE Willie Young, and first-round pick (No. 14) CB Kyle Fuller, it will be interesting to see how this team continues to gel, as they held their own last week against the Buffalo Bills despite losing in overtime 23-20.
However, this time they face a far more superior foe in the 49ers. A perennial powerhouse with the ability to impose their will at the line of scrimmage, this game will surely be a tough task for the Bears. Led by a power running scheme and a two-headed monster in RB Frank Gore and rookie second-round pick (No. 57) RB Carlos Hyde, it will be those two downhill runners that all0w Kaepernick to develop a rhythm.
Last year, the Bears defense ranked dead last in the NFL at stopping the run, as they allowed 161.4 rushing yards per game. Look for the 49ers to expose that weakness, as they smash-mouth their way despite the Bears putting eight men in the box. If the 49ers can successfully chew up four yards a pop, look for Kaepernick to then benefit off the play-action pass.
Kaepernick looks more comfortable than most off the play-action, and with new toys to work with in WR Stevie Johnson, WR Brandon Lloyd and fourth-round pick (No. 106) WR Bruce Ellington, it should be an added bonus as Kaepernick should have a big game. A wide receiver unit that quickly turned a weakness into a strength, do not be surprised if you see Kaepernick throw up some deep balls to Lloyd or WR Anquan Boldin as they have proven to get open time and time again. It won’t be easy however as the Bears secondary is no laughing matter.
Led by two-time Pro Bowl cornerbacks CB Charles Tillman and CB Tim Jennings, it will be up to the 49ers receivers to win their one-on-one battles. And with the Bears using a Tampa 2 defense, look for TE Vernon Davis to benefit, as Kaepernick should find him down the seam for big gains while routinely beating the safeties in deep-thirds. Davis excels when faced against mediocre safeties, so look for him to have another big game as he should rack up a stat line similar to four catches for 65 yards and one touchdown.
With Kaepernick finding Davis down the middle, that should open up the passing game underneath. And that’s where Kap’s at his best. The 49ers have arguably the best 1-2 punch in terms of possession receivers and WR Michael Crabtree and Boldin should have no problems finding the soft spots in zone coverage. If this is the case, Kaepernick will benefit as he should rack up a string of completions in the passing game.
With the 49ers fighting for their first winning streak of the 2014 season, look for Kaepernick to have a big day as I predict him to have a fantasy stat line similar to 19 of 27 for 225 yards and two touchdowns, all while rushing three times for 40 yards.