After Wilson, Texans ready for Kaepernick

After Wilson, Texans ready for Kaepernick
October 3, 2013, 4:15 pm
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What’s the difference between Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick?

About six inches.

Wilson, who the Texans faced last week, and Kaepernick, who they will face Sunday in San Francisco, are two very similar quarterbacks with very similar skill sets. The biggest difference might be that Kaepernick is five or six inches taller.

“They’re very similar,” said 49ers safety Donte Whitner, who plays with Kaepernick and played against Wilson earlier this season. “Both guys can get it done with their arms, strong arms. (They can) get it done with their legs. With the option stuff, they can both do that, run that offense. They’re pretty much identical. The only think that’s different is I think Russell Wilson is what 5-10, 5-11 and Kaepernick is what 6-3, 6-4. That’s the only thing different with those guys.”

Actually, Wilson is listed at 5-11 and Kaepernick is listed at 6-4, but you get the idea. And Whitner is right, the two are pretty similar. And that might help the Texans as they prepare to face the 49ers on Sunday.

Wilson started all 16 games last season but Kaepernick didn’t take over the 49ers’ starting job until Week 10. From that point on, Wilson and Kaepernick were two of three NFL quarterbacks with 1,400 passing yards and 200 rushing yards. Cam Newton was the other.

“To see Russell Wilson and see what type of offense they run from Pete Carroll and then go to San Fran and they run almost basically the same thing,” linebacker Whitney Mercilus said. “It’s very similar, so that helps.”

“It definitely helps,” nose tackle Earl Mitchell said. “They are very similar players and have a very similar style offense. We just have to make sure that we make plays just as he wants to make those big plays.”

Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said the team knew it was in for two mobile quarterbacks in back-to-back weeks when the schedule came out. He said they’re the same type of player but their read zones and schemes are different and he expects to see different things from the 49ers than he saw from the Seahawks.

Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips agreed that it’s a good thing to see two similar quarterbacks and styles in consecutive weeks. He likened the read-option to the wishbone and – even earlier – the single-wing offenses, in that it helped if a defense saw teams run it two weeks in a row.

For the most part, the Texans were very effective against Wilson in Week 4. Through three quarters, Wilson had thrown for just 57 yards and ran for three more. But in the fourth quarter and overtime, Wilson threw for 66 yards and ran for 74.

For a lot of the game, Mercilus was charged with spying Wilson.

“I thought it was a good call definitely,” Mercilus said. “For somebody that scrambles out of the pocket so much, it definitely helps so that you get him down so he doesn’t hurt you with his feet and things like that.”

Mercilus saw the similarities in Wilson and Kaepernick and he also saw the obvious height difference. Mercilus said Kaepernick has longer legs and “runs like a gazelle.”

During the week at practice, the scout team (which is run by backup quarterback T.J. Yates and third-string quarterback Case Keenum) helps the defense prepare for the next opponent.

“You can emulate but you can only emulate so much,” rookie safety D.J. Swearinger said. “We don't have a 4.3, 4.4 (40-yard dash times) at the quarterback, you know.”

Where Swearinger said the team, and especially the defensive backs, can really prepare in practice is when the receivers break free from their routes while the mobile quarterback is scrambling behind the line of scrimmage. For as much as the read-option is talked about, the mobility of these quarterbacks in the pocket and avoiding rushers is a tremendous threat also.

Kaepernick has had a rough beginning to his season. He's thrown for over 200 yards just once and has run for over 30 yards once through four games.

But the Texans still recognize the threat he presents.

“He’s a big, fast quarterback,” J.J. Watt said. “He’s mobile. The guy went to the Super Bowl last year. He’s obviously a very good player. Like I said, it’s a good challenge for us.”