SAN FRANCISCO -- Now we know Colin Kaepernick can do some amazing things in the NFL.
Well, at least one thing.
But what a thing that was Friday night -- a faked handoff out of the shotgun, an Olympic sprint down the right sideline and an easy discarding of Minnesota Vikings cornerback Chris Cook 60 yards downfield.
The result: Kaepernick's blistering 78-yard touchdown run in the second quarter on his second snap in the 49ers' 17-6 exhibition victory over Minnesota at Candlestick Park.
"Our offensive line did a great job of blocking the box, our receiver blocked the corner, our tight end got up to the safety, which left me with a lot of green grass," Kaepernick said.
It was a Steve Young-level run. If Tim Tebow had done this, there would be songs sung on ESPN about it.
Sure, it's only the exhibition season. It doesn't count. But, still, that run was a breathtaking reminder of what's possible with Kaepernick, a second-round pick last year and the 49ers' incumbent backup quarterback.
Another thing we know: If coach Jim Harbaugh ever wants to turn the 49ers into the footloose, read option Oregon Ducks, he has the quarterback to do it.
Of course, Harbaugh is never going to abandon his devotion to power-offense philosophies, fullbacks and tight ends, and to lining up and shoving the defense as far backward as possible without New Age trickery.
He has Alex Smith to run that offense, and the 49ers went
Friday, there was power running back Brandon Jacobs, a new acquisition, bullying his way to 31 yards on four carries -- all for first downs.
That's the way the Harbaugh 49ers like to do things.
However, the Kaepernick bolt of lightning was just another sign that the 49ers have the ability -- and I believe the growing inclination -- to add spread-offense wrinkles this season.
Kaepernick, of course, ran a version of the read option as a one-man offense at Nevada. And now with the 49ers ...
Interestingly, this year Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke drafted tiny speed tailback LaMichael James -- who excelled at Oregon, of all places -- in the second round of the draft.
And James was the running back Kaepernick faked to on the no-huddle play that went for a touchdown, drawing the defense one way while Kaepernick raced to the other.
That was pure Oregon misdirection, high-speed offense.
That also should give some defensive coordinators a lot more to think about heading into 49ers games this year.
Could Harbaugh find a way to insert Kaepernick for some cameo appearances and adapt some fancy Oregon principles this season?
I think that could happen, maybe for a spot play or series here or there, threatening defenses in entirely different ways from how Smith (or most any other quarterback) ever could.
At the least, I think Harbaugh could be jiggering the power West Coast playbook to fit new pages for Kaepernick, just in case Smith gets hurt and the 49ers need Kaepernick for a game or two.
It would be necessary.
Kaepernick still clearly has a ways to go in the normal NFL quarterback learning process; and by usual measurements, Harbaugh is a stickler for the normal stuff.
On the series after his touchdown run, Kaepernick ran a series of regular dropback plays and forced a pass to A.J. Jenkins that nearly was intercepted.
"There were a few passes that I wish I could have back, make a few different decisions," Kaepernick said. "But overall I feel like it went pretty well."
Overall, in about a quarter-and-a-half, Kaepernick completed 5 of 9 passes for 40 yards, registering a 66.9 passer rating.
But it was the run and the read option that were the exclamation points of this performance, and this game.
Harbaugh has his beliefs, he has won with them and assuredly can win with them this season. But Harbaugh also saw that touchdown run, and he likes those, too.
The 49ers score a 17-6 exhibition victory over the Vikings.