Editor's note: This is the final part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Colts matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m., at Candlestick Park
49ers QB Colin Kaepernick vs. Colts QB Andrew Luck
Tale of the tape
Kaepernick (7): 6 foot 4, 230 pounds, third season, Nevada
Luck (12): 6 foot 4, 240 pounds, second season, Stanford
The players in the top matchup will never be on the field at the same time, but their performances will go a long way in determining the winner of Sunday’s game.
Andrew Luck finished second in the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year voting last year behind Washington’s Robert Griffin. And Colin Kaepernick, in just 10 starts, blasted onto the scene as one of the league’s new superstars.
Luck and Kaepernick are arguably the top two young quarterbacks in the league. Their association dates back to July of 2011, when they met for the first time at the Manning Passing Academy in Louisiana.
“He’s a great quarterback, very intelligent, very intuitive,” Kaepernick said of Luck. “He knows what he’s doing on the field.”
And Luck raved about Kaepernick when his Stanford coach asked about some of the other quarterbacks with whom he came in contact.
"When Andrew got back from the academy, just asked him what quarterbacks stood out to him, who was good and I asked him who he got along with," Jim Harbaugh said. "He lit up talking about Colin. It was the first name out of his mouth."
Kaepernick is, perhaps, the top dual-threat quarterback in the league. In two games, he has thrown for 539 yards and rushed for a team-high 109 yards.
Luck, who passed for 4,374 yards and 23 touchdowns as a rookie after being chosen with the No. 1 overall pick, is also fully capable of using his legs to make plays. He rushed for 255 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie, and has 76 yards and a touchdown in two games.
Said Harbaugh, “He is, for lack of a better term, a freakishly good athlete. He’s a lot faster than you think he is and he’s really fast. Stronger than he looks, but then you see the evidence on the tape where guys are hitting him pretty solid, pretty hard and he’s able to just flinch it off, kind of Ben Roethlisberger-like. He throws with a lot of velocity even though it’s a throwing motion it’s pretty smooth.”
Luck is on the other side now. And that’s not a matchup that Harbaugh relishes. After recruiting him and coaching him, Harbaugh has entrusted his defensive staff with finding a way to limit his effectiveness.
How will the 49ers approach trying to confuse the Stanford-educated quarterback who learned from Harbaugh?
“That’s an interesting question and a good one,” Harbaugh said. “The answer isn’t a real good one because there’s not a lot that confuses him or rattles him.”