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NOTEBOOK: Dolphins Familiar With Kaepernick

Posted Dec 6, 2012

Dolphins rookie wide receiver Rishard Matthews was teammate at Nevada.




Colin Kaepernick has had a lot of people talking since he took over for Alex Smith as the 49ers’ starting quarterback. Dolphins rookie wide receiver Rishard Matthews got to experience first-hand what makes Kaepernick such an exciting player.

Matthews, the second of Miami’s two seventh-round picks in 2012, played with Kaepernick at the University of Nevada in 2010. Kaepernick was a senior that year as he was wrapping up a Nevada career that saw him become the first quarterback in major college football history to amass 10,000 career passing yards and 4,000 rushing yards.

“He’s a hard worker,” Matthews said. “He deserves everything he’s done. He’s been working hard since day one, since he got to college. I’m just happy for him, happy he’s succeeding.”

Matthews, however, doesn’t want to see his former college teammate succeed on Sunday. That will fall on the Dolphins defense, which will have to deal with Kaepernick’s arm strength and his mobility.

Kaepernick basically possesses the mobility of someone like Seattle’s Russell Wilson, whom the Dolphins faced two Sundays ago while at 6 feet 4 possessing prototypical quarterback height.

“His height, his ability to see over the linemen gives him an advantage,” said linebacker Karlos Dansby. “It’s just a different challenge. They haven’t changed anything they do with Alex Smith. He just adds an extra dimension to them with his speed and his range. You’ve got to be ready for anything when you’ve got Kaepernick at the helm.”

Kaepernick was seen as San Francisco’s quarterback of the future when the 49ers drafted him early in the second round in 2011, but his timetable was accelerated when Smith sustained a concussion in a game against St. Louis a few weeks back.

Matthews said that Kaepernick’s teammates at Nevada actually expected him to be a first-round pick.

“Everybody in Nevada, we thought he was going to go higher, especially with the numbers he put up at the combine, what he’s done in NCAA history and whatnot,” Matthews said. “But we were happy to see him go that high.”

SEEING AN OLD FRIEND

The Dolphins will be facing a familiar face on Sunday, former first-round pick Ted Ginn Jr.

Traded to San Francisco in 2010, the wide receiver has become almost exclusively a kick returner for the 49ers, but the Dolphins know very well how dangerous Ginn can be.

Ginn has six kick returns for touchdowns in his career, three with the Dolphins and three with San Francisco. The scores also are divided evenly between punt and kickoff returns.

“He’s always been a quick guy,” said Dolphins safety Tyrone Culver, who played with Ginn in 2008-09. “He’s always a home-run threat. So everyone’s got to handle their responsibilities, still play aggressive, but understanding what he likes to do and just eliminate the big plays.”

Ginn has yet to score a touchdown this season. He’s averaging exactly 10 yards on punt returns, with a long of 38 yards. The 49ers used Kyle Williams to return kickoffs early in the season, but Ginn took over after Williams was injured and he’s averaging 23.3 yards per return with a long of 31 yards.

GOING HOME

Sunday’s trip to San Francisco isn’t exactly a homecoming for wide receiver Davone Bess because he was born in nearby Oakland, but it’s going to feel like one.

Bess said Thursday he has bought 40 tickets for the game and expects about 100 supporters to be at Candlestick Park.

“Everybody,” Bess said, “family, friends, everybody, high school friends.”

In his fifth season in the NFL, Bess will be playing in San Francisco for the first time. He has played in Oakland once and had a big day, catching six passes for 111 yards in the Dolphins’ 33-17 victory in 2010.

TRAVEL PLANS

As they did when they played at Arizona in late September, Bess and his teammates will be flying to the West Coast a day early to minimize the effects of the long trip.

The Dolphins put together a solid performance on Sept. 30 against a Cardinals team that came into the game with a 3-0 record, losing 24-21 in overtime. It was the day Ryan Tannehill passed for a Miami rookie-record 431 yards and Brian Hartline set a franchise record with 253 receiving yards.

With the trip to San Francisco longer than that to Arizona, Coach Joe Philbin said the team will fly out a little earlier on Friday.

“I thought we had an excellent trip from an operational standpoint when we went out West last time,” Philbin said. “Obviously, we want to go out West this time with the same type of focus and attention to the task at hand, but a better outcome.

“We came back from that first West Coast trip and we were looking for ways to get better and do things better. But I thought overall it was good. To be honest with you, I didn’t have a lot of experience doing that stuff.”

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