Before Colin Kaepernick’s latest press conference — the one where he messed around and told us he was suffering from hangnails on both pinkie toes — he walked over toward the miniature basketball hoop attached to a pillar in the locker room, a couple dozen reporters and cameramen following the 49ers quarterback like a herd of baby quail chasing their mother across a country road.

About 10 feet in front of the quarterback was Anthony Davis, who was headed out of the locker room to a meeting, or lunch, or whatever it is players do at 12:45 pm on a Wednesday when they have no media responsibilities. Davis gave Kaepernick a smile and a knowing look that said, “Glad it’s you and not me.” Kaepernick laughed and said, “AD! AD!” almost like he wanted to convince Davis to come back and help him out with the interview session.

There’s been too much talk about Kaepernick’s relationship with Vernon Davis, and probably not enough about how he interacts with his offensive line — the guys who’ll have disfigured fingers and no knee cartilage after their playing days are over in part because they did whatever they could to protect their quarterback. The line was established when Kaepernick was unproven, but in his own way he leads the unit while benefitting from their talents.

The photo below from when the 49ers set up for their team picture at The Superdome is a little out of focus (just pretend I took it with my phone), but this is a pretty good example of how Kaepernick treats his linemen.

Colin Kaepernick Mike Iupati 49ers

In return, the o-line has Kaepernick’s back. One obvious example is how Joe Staley responded to Clay Matthews’ hit out-of-bounds in Week 1, and afterward this exchange was caught on the sidelines:

  • Staley: We’re setting a precedent.
  • Kaepernick: I know what you’re saying.
  • Staley: No one is [&*%$in'] hitting you late.
  • Kaepernick: I know what you’re saying.

But it’s not just the linemen protecting Kaepernick. Here he is trying to calm down Alex Boone after HE GOT KICKED IN THE &*%$IN’ FACE!!!

Kicked-in-the-face-49er-Alex-Boone

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A request: can we stop wringing our hands whenever one of the starters gets into a heated discussion with Jim Harbaugh during a game? Harbaugh seems like a guy who relishes a good sideline argument. He celebrates people who “compete like maniacs,” so the least he can do is let them vent every once in a while. Especially when they’re right about what the offense should be doing (Gore) or got penalized for a natural response to a face-kicking (Boone). 

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I feel like I remember Kaepernick talking to Staley about not retaliating during the Packers game because they want to avoid penalties, but I no longer have the game on my DVR and can’t find anything online that corroborates this claim. Pulitzer-worthy reporting! So I’ll move on to Jonathan Goodwin, who I’ve never seen Kaepernick talk to. Clearly, Kap can’t stand Goody.

Juuuuuust kidding. Goodwin may be the nicest guy on the team, and the previous anecdotes are far from a comprehensive study on Kaepernick’s interpersonal relationships with the guys who block for him.

People love calling Alex Smith a “game manager,” but quarterbacks are managers by definition. Smith had the respect (and friendship, in Staley’s case) of his line when he was the starter in San Francisco. The key here is that a young, unpolished quarterback has meshed seamlessly with one of the best offensive lines in the game. Obviously it’s easier for a signal caller to manage a bunch of blockers who know what they’re doing than to avoid unblocked pass rushers. But the quality of the 49ers offensive line and their standing on the team makes Kaepernick’s style of leadership all the more fascinating.