SANTA CLARA The 49ers seemed to be out of options on third and 14 in the second quarter Sunday in New Orleans.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick was sprinting to his left, a swarm of Saints defenders was in hot pursuit, and the sideline was fast approaching.
At the last moment, however, Kaepernick twisted his torso, dropped his left shoulder and whipped a pass downfield to Michael Crabtree who let the would-be first-down completion slip through his hands.
"With Colin Kaepernick, you've got to keep your eye on the ball, you know?" Crabtree said. " The guy can throw the ball real fast, and it's hard, too. So you've got to concentrate."
With the quarterback change, the 49ers receivers have had to adjust to fast-moving footballs and to being thrown passes the previous starter, Alex Smith, wouldn't have attempted.
Kaepernick has made adjustments, too.
During the draft process in 2011, he was criticized for his elongated, baseball pitcher-like windup that some experts said would allow defensive backs to get a jump on his passes. That hasn't happened so far because of the velocity of the throws and because Kaepernick has adjusted his delivery.
"At times, yeah," offensive coordinator Greg Roman said when asked if Kaepernick had shortened his windup. "I think it's more efficient."
Bay Area throwing coach Roger Theder started working with Kaepernick when the quarterback was a sophomore at Pitman High School in Turlock.
Theder's only critique of Kaepernick's last three games is that he isn't keeping his left hand on the ball long enough when he throws. But he loves the new starter's accuracy, especially his footwork. The best throw Kaepernick has made so far?
In Theder's opinion, it was the 45-yard pass to tight end Delanie Walker that came on third and two in the third quarter Sunday.
"That to me is the one that really shows his accuracy," Theder said. "The thing he did was he moved and then reset his feet with the tight end coming across. Foot movement is what I watch more than I watch the release."
The 53rd man The 49ers promoted linebacker-fullback Michael Wilhoite from the practice squad to the active roster Friday.
Two spots on the 53-man roster became available when Kyle Williams and Kendall Hunter went on injured reserve this week. Running back Jewel Hampton filled one and Wilhoite the other.
Wilhoite was a teammate of ex-49er wide receiver Joe Hastings who made a similar jump from the practice squad last year at Washburn University. He joined the 49ers' practice squad last year.
The move means the 49ers will not sign a kicker to a short-term contract and that David Akers' pelvis injury will not keep him out of Sunday's game in St. Louis.
Coach Jim Harbaugh said the 49ers' backup kickers are punter Andy Lee and nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga, who played rugby in American Samoa. Akers is listed as probable.
Costly kick Broderick Bunkley's kick to Alex Boone's head last Sunday was an expensive one. The NFL fined the Saints defensive lineman $20,000 for the incident, which occurred during a blocked field-goal attempt in the fourth quarter. Bunkley was penalized for a personal foul and ejected. He will not be suspended.
Boone was tangling with several Saints linemen at the time. "I don't know why (he did it)," Boone said after the game. "Maybe he was mad at me."