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Kaepernick strives to get 49ers back to Super Bowl

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MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ/AP
  • Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

SANTA CLARA — Colin Kaepernick's every move is scrutinized now that he has reached rock-star status as a third-year quarterback with the NFL's top-selling jersey.

He showed up for Day 1 of training camp Thursday sporting a black beanie hat and large red headphones hanging from his neck, insisting he is unaffected by it all. No Miami Dolphins gear to be seen.

The hype isn't going away anytime soon.

"There's just more opportunities to do things. For the most part for me, I'm worried about playing football," Kaepernick said ahead of the team's first full-squad practice. "I'm worried about making sure I'm ready to go on the field and perform."

In six short months since losing in the waning moments of the Super Bowl, Kaepernick has, among other things, appeared unclothed on the cover of ESPN The Magazine's "The Body Issue." And Kaep caused quite a stir by wearing a Miami cap.

He fully expects plenty of grief from teammates as begins his first training camp as the guy under center.

"I haven't had anything real bad yet, so I feel like they're plotting on me right now," Kaepernick said with a smile.

The 25-year-old Kaepernick has been fueled by coming so close to the franchise's sixth Super Bowl championship in February, a 34-31 loss to Baltimore. The Niners missed three chances from the 5-yard line, yet Kaepernick is quick to point to a mistake-filled first half.

Coach Jim Harbaugh's forward-focused message has been clear: "If you're still talking about what you did yesterday, you haven't done much today."

Kaepernick is determined to be that much better in his first full season as starter for the two-time NFC West champions, who expect a big challenge in the division from Seattle and St. Louis. The 49ers are ready for Kaepernick to lead them back to the big stage.

"Kaep is a diverse guy. And the coaches love him. The players love him. It's unique in that way, maybe for a quarterback, you don't always see that. I see that with Kaep," said Harbaugh, a former NFL quarterback himself. "He's universally respected in that locker room and loved by his teammates. And guess I see that from the 25-to-35 demographic, too, that are buying jerseys. So people relate to him. They like his company, they like being around him."

Notes: S Donte Whitner said he spoke with Harbaugh on Wednesday and the coach told him he hopes a new contract gets done. ... The 49ers activated LB Darius Fleming and WR Kyle Williams from the active/physically unable to perform list. ... WR Michael Crabtree, recovering from surgery on his torn right Achilles tendon, was placed on the active/PUP list.