The Wildcat to watch for on Sunday may not be the one run by Tim Tebow.
Beware of the 49ers and their version of the Wildcat. San Francisco runs their wrinkle of the offense with second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick, a former second-round pick who is an athletic former Nevada quarterback.
Though, like the Jets with Tebow, the 49ers have rarely run the Wildcat, with Kaepernick rushing just once for 17 yards this season.
“They’ve run it a little bit this year but it’s us seeing the plays they run and [the way] they run the personnel in those plays. Obviously we have our own Wildcat; there’s similarities in any Wildcat package. You’re trying to find different kinds of ways of giving the same play but from a different look. You’re running a dive, running a sweep -- just trying to give a different look than what an opposing team is used to seeing,” linebacker Aaron Maybin told Metro.
“Basically what we’re looking to see is how they attack certain teams. They haven’t attacked teams the same way. ... You have to take notes and understand the looks we’re getting.”
The Jets have rolled out their secretive Wildcat package just a few times this year. Tebow has just eight rushes through the season’s first three games. The 49ers seem to be keeping the package under wraps as well, so there isn’t a lot of current game film. Instead, the Jets are relying on last year’s tape.
There is the benefit, however, of the defense going up against the Wildcat on a daily basis.
“There isn’t a day where we don’t see a look that isn’t similar to a Wildcat, if not the Wildcat,” defensive end Quinton Coples said. “We definitely got a package around that; we’re definitely preparing for it. We actually prepared for the Wildcat package in training camp so we have that familiarity. So we’re not unprepared entirely.”
What the Jets may not be prepared for is what Kaepernick brings to the table. Unlike a typical Wildcat quarterback, Kaepernick has a tremendous arm and solid NFL accuracy, meaning that he’s a threat to throw the ball and not just run a glorified version of the option. It boils down to the Jets’ secondary being aware of any and all options if Kaepernick is inserted into the game.
“You know when he’s coming in, he’s not just dropping back,” safety Yeremiah Bell said. “But you have to be aware of what he can do in the Wildcat, which is what makes it such an intriguing offense.”
The Jets have practiced against the 49ers’ version of the Wildcat in addition to their own in practice, and they’ve also spent time in defensive meetings getting ready for it. Much like opposing teams have to ready for Tebow, the Jets now have to study and scheme against Kaepernick.
“We’re expecting a decent amount of wrinkles from them and with it being a decent part of their package last year and them not running it this year, we have to plan for it as a change-up or a surprise,” Maybin said. “We’ve got to be ready for it. It’s really as simple as that.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.