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By The Sports Xchange January 8, 2013 2:00 PM
With 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the physical gifts are obvious. He's fast, he's strong, he's got an elite arm, he eludes tackles. The list goes on. That's not what has impressed coach Jim Harbaugh most this week as Kaepernick prepares for his first career playoff game. For Harbaugh, it's been his ability to pick things up on the mental side that has really impressed. "He's got a good grasp of the game plan so far. I'm excited that he's ... it's a bit savant-like, you know, the way he's handling it so far this week," Harbaugh said. "So that's really encouraging." Encouraging, not surprising. Not for the guy who benched an established winner -- Alex Smith -- for his backup essentially after one career start. There's a common train of thought that Harbaugh was just waiting for an opportunity to make the switch and got it when Kaepernick debuted so favorably against the Bears on Monday Night Football. He denied that on Monday. "No, it was not a pre-determined move," Harbaugh said. "The decision was made when Alex got hurt, Colin played, played well in his first start. Came back the next week, still felt that with that week against New Orleans that Colin gave us the best chance to win." Harbaugh laments it was a unique set of circumstances that led to Kaepernick being named the starter. "He was good to start with. Came into the season, got his first opportunities to play early in the season, was very good," Harbaugh said. "And then he had his first start, was very good." In that first start -- a 32-7 49ers win -- Kaepernick completed 16 of 25 passes for 243 yards with a pair of touchdowns. Harbaugh's theory regarding Kaepernick giving the team the best chance to win will be tested Saturday against the Packers, a team Smith beat in the season opener. "Just being in the situations he's been in, the way he's handled himself in those situations," Harbaugh said, "at this point we can say just about everything, you know, that a quarterback could face. He's done well."