- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- As the San Francisco 49ers head down the stretch, Colin Kaepernick is confident of this: His two starting wide receivers will do everything they can to get the ball and make plays.
The 49ers’ passing offense clearly has received a jolt in the past three games since Michael Crabtree returned from a torn Achilles he suffered in May. Every aspect of the passing game is better. Kaepernick said an enjoyable byproduct is a friendly competition that has developed between Crabtree and wily veteran Anquan Boldin.
“I would say it’s more opportunistic,” said Kaepernick of the 49ers’ passing game this month. “I feel the competition between them is something that’s going to raise not just their play, but everybody’s. From Vernon [Davis] to Vance [McDonald] to Mario [Manningham] to Quinton [Patton]. The competition that they have as far as ‘When I catch the ball, I’m trying to score.’ I mean, they have times in practice where they’re like, ‘Hey, throw me the ball, I’m going to do this.’ That’s something you love to see as an offensive player. Two players that challenge each other in a good way. 'I want to see if I can make a better play than you.'”
Kaepernick said he loves the energy of the passing game right now, adding that he has no problem with his receivers clamoring for the ball.
“As a quarterback, those are all things that go into ‘OK, this is someone I can really rely on,'" Kaepernick said. “'I can put the ball in the air, and he’s going to be where he needs to be.’ As a quarterback, that’s something you love. You have that freedom to put the ball in the air.”
Kaepernick did say the team will have to adjust in the running game without fullback Bruce Miller. He broke his scapula at Tampa Bay on Sunday and is likely out for the season. The 49ers are finalizing a deal to bring back defensive tackle/fullback Will Tukuafu, who should back up Anthony Dixon. The 49ers also can use some other alignments perhaps including rookie tight end Derek Carrier.
“We're going to have to see how it plays out,” Kaepernick said. “That's going to be kind of what we figure out this week, I think. Is our game plan going to change? Do we feel more comfortable in a different set because Bruce isn't in there now? Is it something where we have to revamp different things? But I think for the most part we'll stay true to who we are and continue doing what we've been doing.”
Meanwhile, Kaepernick was asked about the team’s habit of burning early timeouts or getting delay of game penalties. Kaepernick said trying to be perfect on drives is the main objective and if taking a small step back helps the team complete drives with points, he’s all for it.
“I mean, for us, if we have to save our timeouts for the end of the game and we’re behind now and we’re using our timeouts to try to catch up, whereas if we could use them earlier and get those points so we’re ahead at the end of the game,” he said. “We feel like that’s a better situation for us.”