How Do Ravens Stop Colin Kaepernick?


Who is Colin Kaepernick?

Is he Robert Griffin III? Is he Michael Vick? Is he Randall Cunningham?

The Ravens see shades of all three in the second-year 49ers quarterback. And linebacker Ray Lewis, for one, is impressed.

"He's one of those freakish athletes," Lewis said. "I'm fond of the kid."

Lewis compared Kaepernick to Cunningham because they're both very long (Kaepernick is 6-foot-4, 230 pounds while Cunningham was the same height and 15 pounds lighter) and both have a style of play where they'll generally look to pass first but can take off and make big plays at any time.

Safety Ed Reed compared Kaepernick to Vick when talking about him with Lewis. Vick was known for his quick release and strong arm, and of course his ability to make big plays with his legs.

"I remember the days when we played against Vick and just how he can throw the ball and run," Reed said.

Ravens Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees said he's a mixture of Griffin III and Vick.

"He's not exactly like either one of them, but he has traits that are similar to both," Pees said.

Kaepernick has taken the league by storm since becoming the 49ers' starter on Nov. 19.

The difficulty with Kaepernick is he can hurt teams as a pocket passer or on the move. For example, he ran 16 times for 181 yards and two touchdowns against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC divisional round. Then he completed 16 of 21 passes for 233 yards against the Atlanta Falcons in the AFC championship.

Without getting too specific, Head Coach John Harbaugh pointed to some of the keys that are being coached this week.

"We're going to have to keep him inside and in front of our defense. We're not going to be able to run past him. He's fully capable of putting 200 yards on you in a second," Harbaugh said.

"He's not just an integral part of their passing game; he's a huge part of their run game. So, we'll have a plan for it. Assignment football is going to be really important for us. Change-ups are going to be important for us. We'll just have to play well against it."

The Ravens had mixed success against Vick and Griffin III this year and lost both games.

In Week 2, Vick threw for 371 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He ran 10 times for 34 yards and a touchdown.

In Week 14, Griffin III and the Redskins' read-option offense got off to a quick start with back-to-back long drives, but the Ravens settled in after that and surrendered 242 passing yards and 34 rushing to the nimble Redskins quarterback. Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata eventually knocked him out of the game with a knee injury on the final drive.

While there are similarities between the Redskins' and 49ers' offense, they aren't identical.

"It's read-option, but there's no pitch guy," Reed said. "Even [Kaepernick's] running style – I know he's fast, he can run – but RGII was a little quicker, I think, and probably a little faster. You're pretty much getting some of the same things, but not totally."

Pees went back and studied the Eagles and Redskins games in preparation for the Super Bowl.

"We will try to correct the things that we didn't do very well in both of those games," Pees said.

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