SANTA CLARA – There’s little doubt Colin Kaepernick is the bigger threat to make big gains with his legs.
But New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady demonstrated on Sunday his subtle movements in the pocket that buy him time to make big plays down the field with his arm. It's an often-overlooked attribute that has helped make him one of the NFL's all-time best quarterbacks.
“He’s a great quarterback,” Kaepernick said Sunday after the 49ers’ 30-17 loss to Brady and the Patriots at Levi’s Stadium.
“He had a few plays that most quarterbacks can’t make. Those are things that you do look at as a quarterback and see, is that something that I can incorporate into my game?”
Brady routinely avoided sacks but kept plays alive to help him complete 24 of 40 passes for 280 yards and four touchdowns. Brady was sacked just once for 7 yards.
The Patriots put the game away in the fourth quarter on Brady’s 56-yard touchdown pass to rookie Malcolm Mitchell. Brady bought time and delivered the pass before 49ers outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks could drop him for a sack.
“It was a third-down pass and he was short of the sticks so I scrambled up, he wheeled and I just saw a little separation and just tried to give him a chance,” Brady said. “He made a great play and that was a phenomenal play by Malcolm. We really needed it. It was tough conditions out there. We hung in there, bought it out and grinded it out pretty good.”
Brady also bought time on the first play of the fourth quarter to allow Danny Amendola to break free in the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown pass that gave the Patriots a 20-10 lead.
“That’s why he’s a Hall of Fame quarterback,” 49ers coach Chip Kelly said. “He’s not the fastest quarterback out there, but I would argue that he’s as good as anybody when it comes to being able to move within the pocket.
“People that have watched him for his career have come to expect that from him and that’s unfortunate for us today, but that’s just the type of quarterback he is. His ability to keep plays alive, he’s as good as anybody and I think people get a misconception that he’s not Mike Vick, but he keeps plays alive scrambling and all those other things. He’s not like that but his ability in the pocket is as good as anybody’s that’s ever played the game.”
Brady played his first game in the Bay Area against the 49ers – his favorite team as he grew up in San Mateo. Brady attended the 49ers' NFC Championship game against the Dallas Cowboys in January 1982 that produced "The Catch" on Joe Montana's pass to Dwight Clark to send the 49ers to their first Super Bowl.
“I’ve got a lot of people out there waiting for me so it’s very cool,” Brady said. “It doesn’t get any better than that. For the first chance to ever do that it was very special. I felt it in pregame warmup and it carried right to the last play of the game. It was pretty great.
“They’ve got a great organization. They always have and it inspired a lot of kids here in the Bay Area in my time growing up and I was one of them. To see Tom Rathman before the game, I mean, I idolized him. Dwight Clark and Joe Montana, to see them at halftime it was a pretty, pretty great day for me.”