Football / Sports

Kaepernick talks about foot injury that slowed him in 2013

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The 49ers last year reined in Colin Kaepernick's running plays to save their starting quarterback from excessive wear and tear and because he suffered a significant injury to his foot.

Kaepernick, who during the season joked that the issue was a hangnail on his pinkie toe, revealed the actual diagnosis in an interview with The Bee this week. He said he suffered a chipped bone on his forefoot and a ruptured capsule in the ball of his foot when a Seahawks defender landed on it during a Week 2 loss in Seattle.

"Running down the sideline and went down," Kaepernick said. "And I think it was one of their linemen or linebackers landed on my foot when I was on the ground."

The injury prevented him from pushing off with the foot like he was accustomed and it diminished his acceleration. Kaepernick rushed nine times for 87 yards against the Seahawks. He didn't have more than 20 yards rushing again until a Week 7 win against Tennessee. His completion percentage in that span of four games was 53 percent; it was 60 percent for the other 12 in the regular season.

It should be noted that Kaepernick's completion percentage likely was affected by the fact that one of his few trusted targets, Vernon Davis, was dealing with a hamstring injury suffered in the Seahawks game and missed the Week 3 game vs. Indianapolis. Another 49er, nose tackle Ian Williams, was lost for the season after a low block by a Seahawks offensive lineman resulted in a broken ankle. Safety Eric Reid left the game with a concussion.

Kaepernick was on the injury report with a foot issue from the start of Week 3 through mid November.

"I noticed it, especially in practice," Jim Harbaugh said in March. "I think anytime you have a foot, a hand or a finger, it affects you throwing and running." As a result, the 49ers did not call as many read-option plays for Kaepernick. "We didn't want to see Colin get hit 12 times a game," Harbaugh said. "Four or five? Maybe, and that's it. That was a conscious effort."

Kaepernick discussed the injury after being asked about the discrepancy between his postseason rushing numbers -- when he averaged 9.3 yards a carry -- and regular season (5.7 yards an attempt). Extrapolated over 16 games, his postseason rushing numbers would break Michael Vick's single-season rushing record for a quarterback by nearly 300 yards.

"It was something that was always there," he said of the injury. "Never spoke about it, never said anything about it because you're a football player, you play through pain. Unless you're being carted off, you should be on the field. If it's something you can play through, that's what you do."

Teammate Justin Smith revealed last month that he played through the 2013 season with a shoulder injury suffered in training camp. The issue required surgery in the offseason but Smith, a defensive lineman, and the 49ers never let on that it was a problem last year.

Said Kaepernick: "I think that's the kind of players we have on this team: You're not going to let something that's minor, that's not a true injury, keep you off of the field. You're going to hurt, yes. You're going to have tweaks and problems. But you're a football player, you can play through those."

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