SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The San Francisco 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. He rushed nine times for 87 yards against the Seahawks. He didn’t have more than 20 yards rushing again until Week 7. His completion percentage in that span of four games was 53 percent; it was 60 percent for the other 12 in the regular season.
Kaepernick was on the injury report with a foot issue from 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).
“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.”
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