There is a tried and true strategy for most players – or all players – during the media crush of Super Bowl week.
When in doubt say nothing. Or close to nothing.
This would seem to be particularly apt advice for a young quarterback with only half a season of experience under his belt, about to face a defense full of legends that just forced the triumvirate of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck into more interceptions (5) than touchdowns (4).
"They are very physical, very big and take up a lot of space," the San Francisco 49ers quarterback said this week.
No kidding, they are big? Who would've guessed?
That's all he said on the subject. And perhaps all he will say. Super Bowl week has just begun and Kaepernick appears to have bought into the game plan of making zero waves until kickoff. Not only is he in the process of executing it; he's executing it perfectly.
And that's a promising sign for the 49ers.
Kaepernick met with the media upon arrival in New Orleans and his performance was Belichick-ian in brevity and, at times, emptiness. It was a flawless performance. He's playing the Ravens, where Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Bernard Pollard and who knows who else will talk and talk and talk.
The second-year QB will not. Tuesday is the official "media day," complete with "reporters" dressed as super heroes, brides and other assorted comic attempts, but it stands to reason that one of the most fascinating and important figures in the game will brush them aside as easily as he would a slow linebacker.
You want to write an introspective profile, get him to say something controversial on camera, discuss in depth the meaning behind his tattoos or let America know about its newest football star?
Well, good luck, but he's here to win a game, not help with that.
Often the way a player or coach answers, or doesn't answer questions, especially the generic, often poorly worded ones from Super Bowl media sessions, explains more than the actual answer. Kaepernick fits with that.
You think he's going to play along with a question such as this one: Was it any different flying to the Super Bowl than, say, a regular-season game? "Just a bigger plane," he said.
Have a favorite Super Bowl memory?
"I don't know. I can't pick one out. I just remember growing up watching the Super Bowl and being a big fan of it."
How much of yourself do you see in your coach, Jim Harbaugh?
"I think both of us are very competitive. We want to do whatever it takes to win."
The NFL transcription service says Kaepernick answered 28 questions during an official media session this week and his average answer was just 27.7 words, or 5.3 fewer words than this sentence.
It's also 50 words less than it takes for Ray Lewis to clear his throat.
Or put it this way, one of Kaepernick's tattoos has 22 words.
Kaepernick has never been known as an open subject in an interview but he's taking the media caution to an extreme this week. The 49ers have to be pleased. You want your players to stay within themselves, to be themselves, to not get overwhelmed by the event.
The QB sure doesn't sound stressed. Few players enter this game with a greater focus or more pressure. It was Kaepernick, after all, who took over for a briefly injured Alex Smith in midseason only to have Harbaugh boldly gamble and give him the job to keep.
Kaepernick has been brilliant, the perfect combination of running and passing, but the stakes get so high at the end that a poor performance, fair or not, will be measured by some against what Smith hypothetically could've done. At least by some critics. So, sure, this could be a pressure cooker, being the Super Bowl and all.
"Pressure, I feel like, comes from lack of preparation," Kaepernick said. "This isn't going to be a pressure situation. It is going to be a matter of going out there and performing physically."
[Yahoo! Sports Radio: Ex-Niner Derrick Deese on Super Bowl pressure]
The man is efficient. He revealed enough about himself the way each word was chosen, the way he smartly weaved past any potential landmines. He isn't getting crushed by the spotlight.
What do you remember about Ray Lewis, either as a player or person?
"I have never met him but his intensity that he brings to the game and the passion that he plays with is very admirable."
Very admirable? Nice phrase. Bring on media day and your foreign TV reporters asking loaded questions via hand puppets, the kid isn't biting on anything.
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