Redskins

Column: Is Kaepernick worth the risk this year?

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Column: Is Kaepernick worth the risk this year?

It was just a few months ago - also known as forever in NFL time - that San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh stood in front of the media and proclaimed his love for Alex Smith.

After Sunday's debacle in St. Louis, Harbaugh might want to do it again.

That Colin Kaepernick is a fine young talent who may someday win a Super Bowl for the 49ers or some other team isn't up for debate. He has a rare combination of size, running ability and arm strength to win a lot of games for a lot of years in the NFL.

It's why Harbaugh was so star struck after Kaepernick's first start against the Bears on Monday night two weeks ago that he kept him on the job. It's why Smith watched from the sidelines once again against the Rams despite a clear head and some sterling credentials of his own.

Four games away from the playoffs, though, the steady hand of Smith might be the best ticket the 49ers can punch to get to the Super Bowl in New Orleans.

Except Harbaugh seems as smitten with his second-year quarterback as ever.

``It was a tough game for a quarterback to play in,'' Harbaugh said. ``I thought he did well.''

At times Kaepernick certainly did, particularly when he made up for a series of miscues with a spectacular 50-yard scramble that put the 49ers in position to win the game against the Rams. But the drive ended with a field goal, the game went to overtime, and the Rams finally ended it with a late kick for a 16-13 win.

Had the Rams not put those points on the board with 26 seconds left in OT something other than a quarterback controversy might be the legacy of the game. It could easily have been the second tie game between the two teams in three weeks - something that was such a long shot even Vegas oddsmakers wouldn't put a price on it.

Instead, the focus for 49er fans will be on a quarterback controversy that didn't need to be.

Argue all you want about Kaepernick's potential and ability - he certainly has plenty of both. But don't forget Smith took the 49ers to within a field goal of the Super Bowl last year and his only mistake this year was to suffer a concussion that forced him off the field in the tie against the Rams in San Francisco.

``I feel like the only thing I did to lose my job was get a concussion,'' a somewhat perplexed Smith said earlier in the week.

Not that anyone should feel sorry for Smith. The former No. 1 pick had his chances but didn't play well in a variety of different schemes in San Francisco before finally flourishing under Harbaugh in a breakout season last year.

That won him a new $33 million contract, with $16.5 million guaranteed. But it didn't stop the 49ers from almost straying a few months later when they took a close look at free agent Peyton Manning before deciding to stick with the quarterback they had.

And it didn't stop the coach/quarterback guru from sticking with Kaepernick even when Smith was cleared to play, declaring he would go with the quarterback with the ``hot hand.''

That hand wasn't so hot Sunday in St. Louis against a defense that seemed to confuse Kaepernick at times. His numbers were decent enough - 208 yards passing and another 84 rushing - but he got the 49ers into the end zone only once and made two critical second-half mistakes that allowed the Rams back in the game.

The first gave St. Louis its first points when Kaepernick was called for grounding while trying to scramble from the end zone. The second hurt far worse, when Kaepernick pitched the ball over Ted Ginn Jr. deep in 49ers territory and the Rams recovered for a tying touchdown.

``I was just trying to make a play instead of playing it safe,'' Kaepernick said. ``I should have kept it and let the clock run. Let your punter get on the field and let our defense play.''

Mistakes of a young quarterback, part of the growing process in the NFL. Kaepernick will make more of them, but his upside is so tantalizing to Harbaugh that he's willing to risk a loss here or there to have him under center.

But is he willing to risk a Super Bowl run for a team already primed for one behind Smith? Will he keep a quarterback on the sidelines who was fifth in the NFL with a passer rating of 104.1 and had a 70 percent completion percentage when he suffered the concussion that benched him?

Is he so confident in his ability to analyze the quarterback position that he will stubbornly push ahead with Kaepernick no matter what?

``I'll let you know if there's a change but right now I think it'll be the same as it was this week,'' Harbaugh said. ``I'm proud of Kap, proud of the way he played. He did some really good things under a lot of heat and duress and handled himself well, gave our team a chance to win.''

Tough to second guess Harbaugh, who took over a hapless 49er team last year and nearly made the Super Bowl with them. He understands talent and he knows the quarterback position better than anyone in the NFL after spending 14 seasons taking snaps on Sundays himself.

But you can't help wondering if he's taking a chance he doesn't need to take.

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Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org orhttp://twitter.com/timdahlberg

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Redskins 53-man roster projection, ver. 2.0

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Redskins 53-man roster projection, ver. 2.0

<< Click here to see Redskins 53-man roster projection ver. 2.0 >>

The Redskins are halfway through the preseason and the first two games may have done more to muddy the waters when it comes to who will make the 53-man roster than they did to clarify things. 

Here is my second training camp prediction of who will make the final cut for the Redskins. See where players are safe and where the hot spots are for competition. 

Among the big battles taking shape:

—An injury and one player’s impressive preseason have juggled the wide receiver depth chart. 

—With Orlando Scandrick cut, the cornerback position looks set but the rookies had better not do anything to shake the coaches’ confidence in them. 

—There are seven safeties who may be worthy of roster spots, but only four are likely to make it. 

—Despite the Hogan-led rally last night, it still looks like the roster will have only two QBs. 

<< Click here to see Redskins 53-man roster projection ver. 2.0 >>

Redskins 2018 news:

-Redskins vs Jets: Must-see photos from the game
-Analysis: Five Redskins-Jets observations

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler

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John Wall's sneaker closet is next-level – here are his favorite Adidas

John Wall's sneaker closet is next-level – here are his favorite Adidas

When John Wall re-signed with Adidas this past January, it was time to stock his shoe closet with all the newest, most exclusive three stripes designs. 

The brand is known for its designer collaborations and limited releases that can push the pricetags up into the hundreds. 

Cost is no object for Wall, who invited Chris Miller into the shoe closet of his Miami mansion. You can watch the full closet tour in the video player above.

Wall keeps thousands of dollars of footwear organized inside specially lit display cases. But what are his favorites? He pulled out six Adidas designs he's been loving this the summer. 

1. Raf Simons Replicant Ozweego Independence Day – These sneakers are the product of Adidas's collaboration with Belgian designer Raf Simons, who has worked as creative director of fashion houses Christian Dior and Calvin Klein. Wall got his hands on the Independence Day colorway of these sneakers before they were released in July. They're available retail for $450 at Saks Fifth Avenue

2. Yeezy Boost 700 "Wave Runner" – Designed as part of Kanye West's Yeezy collection, the "Wave Runner" has been a popular model since its first release in February 2017. A third release is scheduled sometime later this year, but to purchase them now, Flight Club sells pairs ranging from $575 to $1,320

3. Twinstrike ADV – Wall has the Twinstrike in multiple bold colorways. The shoe debuted late in 2017 and is more attainable than the first two pairs he showed off. They're available at Barneys New York for $180

4. EQT Support Ultra King Push “Bodega Babies” – These EQT Support sneakers got an update in collaboration with rapper Pusha T. The sock-style primeknit has been a popular design feature for Adidas. The sneakers are limited release, but retail at $220 at Barneys New York.

MORE WIZARDS: Summer of Separation: Grind season for John Wall

5. Pharrell NMD Hu Trail “Holi" in Pink Glow – This exclusive collaboration with hip-hop producer Pharrell Williams was inspired by the Holi festival of colors in India. Released in limited quantities in early March of 2018, the shoe's retail price was $250. To buy a pair now, it'll cost anywhere from $325 to $480 at Flight Club

6. Originals Gazelle – Finally, Wall gets to a classic! The Gazelle was originally designed in the mid-1960s and became one of Adidas's most recognizable, popular designs throughout the brand's history. They're popular, easy to find and affordable. The Adidas website has a whole section devoted to the Gazelle, which comes in men's, women's and kids' sizes. A standard pair of men's costs around $80 at retail

For those not keeping track, the six shoes above combine to cost around $2,000 or more. But whether people can afford them or not isn't the point. 

Wall told Miller how he couldn't afford the sneakers he loved as a kid, but still kept track of all the new releases and special styles. As he made money and started to build his shoe collection, he treated it like collecting fine art.

But also like art, you don't have to own designer sneakers to appreciate them.