Bill Beck: Elkharts Palmer not shocked by Kaepernicks rise with 49ers
Posted: 01/30/2013 at 4:30 pm
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San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick answers reporters questions during media day for the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
In this Jan. 12, 2012, file photo, San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh celebrates with quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) after Kaepernick’s 56-yard touchdown run against the Green Bay Packers during the third quarter of an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game in San Francisco. Harbaugh made a switch at the most important position on a football field, going from veteran starting quarterback Alex Smith, he of the 18-for-19 passing day in Week 8 and third-in-the-league 104.1 passer rating after what turned out to be his last start, to untested, second-year backup Colin Kaepernick. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) answers reporters questions during media day for the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Elkhart native and Colts rookie receiver Nathan Palmer waits for a chance to play during last Sunday's NFL game against Buffalo at Lucas Oil Stadium. (Photo Supplied)
Words come free and easy for Nathan Palmer, but something the young Elkhart native dropped on me last week hit me like a two-by-four to the face.
Palmer, a Colts rookie receiver, was a guest of standout Indianapolis wideout Reggie Wayne at last weekend’s Pro Bowl. Palmer described his trip to Honolulu and casually mentioned stopping over in San Francisco en route to Hawaii.
Nothing to be surprised there. It was on the way and as an undrafted free agent, Palmer started the season on the 49ers practice squad before the Colts acquired him for their active roster on Sept. 24, 2012.
“It was pretty cool. I got to spend two days in San Francisco hanging with ‘Kaep,’” Palmer said matter of factly.
“Kaep? Colin Kaepernick?” I asked NaPalm.
“Yea, he was my roommate when I was there,” he said.
Small world. Where’s that two-by-four?
In an NFL season dominated by heralded rookie quarterbacks Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III, a second-year QB from Nevada that few had heard of three months ago is stealing a lion’s share of the Super Bowl headlines.
And deservedly so.
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Palmer won’t say he called it, but he’s not at all surprised as Kaepernick’s meteoric rise after coach Jim Harbaugh installed the youngster over Alex Smith, the starter for the team’s 6-2-1 start.
Since then, San Fran, with Kaepernick at the control’s a now-explosive offense, is 7-2, including two playoff wins.
“He always talked about that once he got his chance, his main goal was to make it hard for Alex to come back,” Palmer said.
Heckuva plan. Mission accomplished.
Kaepernick, like most NFLers, was merely following the company line.
“Coach Harbaugh always said that if you want a job, take it from another man,” Palmer said. “It’s that way everywhere. He knew that. He was the next guy in and he’s made that team great.
“At the start of the year, everyone knew Alex was going to start. He hasn’t done anything wrong.”
Smith left the season’s ninth contest, which ended in a 24-24 tie with the Rams.
The following week, in a Monday Night Football debut against the Chicago Bears, Kaepernick was penciled in to start. The Niners won easily, 32-7.
Smith hasn’t seen the field since.
Kaepernick’s athleticism and veteran-like unflappability on the field and humble poise in front of microphones has turned the second-round draft into an instant hit with fans and media.
Palmer is proud of the way his friend has handled the transition and subsequent exposure.
“The first game he got in there he did pretty well ... it was kind of crazy with it being Alex’s team. It’s a more dynamic offense,” Palmer said. “I’m not shocked by it. Everybody loved him anyways, everyone respected him.”
That friendship — and sentiment — will lead Palmer into siding with the 49ers come Super Bowl Sunday.
Yet Palmer finds himself torn, albeit slightly.
Part of him, he says, wants a “great leader’’ like Baltimore’s Ray Lewis to have one more ring on his way out of the NFL, but “I’ve got to root for my boys in San Francisco.”
“I think they’re going to win a close, physical game. Randy Moss deserves (a championship),” said Palmer, “and I’m rooting for my roomie.”
Contact Bill Beck at email@example.com