SAN FRANCISCO -- Colin Kaepernick's "hot hand" has cooled, but that's not the point, anymore.
Lukewarm Hand Kap is Jim Harbaugh's man, he's the 49ers' quarterback, and it's on him to grind through tough games and win.
Which is what Kaepernick managed to do Sunday in his fourth NFL start, and yes, "manage" is exactly the right word.
On Sunday, Kaepernick managed the game, kept the 49ers offense out of trouble and had some frustrating moments, too.
Then -- voilà! -- Kaepernick broke off a stunning 50-yard read-option touchdown run to seal the 49ers' 27-13 victory over Miami at Candlestick Park.
"He made a good read -- everybody came to me and Mr. Everything did his thing," running back Frank Gore said.
Basically, Kaepernick was Alex Smith-plus: A steady QB who also can run or throw for a TD at any random moment.
All of that explains why Kaepernick is playing and Smith isn't, even though Smith can do many of these things and has done them often.
Kaepernick is playing because of the "plus" part, even if that's only one bonus play a game.
"Thought he managed the game well," Harbaugh said of Kaepernick, who completed 18 of his 23 attempts for 185 yards. "Thought he did a good job, generally."
Hmm, does that sound like a description of another 49ers QB you know?
On Sunday, it wasn't all offensive fireworks for Kaepernick; quite frankly, it wasn't all very good.
"I wish I had a few throws back, a few different decisions," Kaepernick said.
He lost the ball on a sack on the fourth play of the game -- luckily for him, 49ers right tackle Anthony Davis recovered -- and the Dolphins defense seemed to confuse the second-year QB at times.
The 49ers burned several timeouts when the play clock was running down just as Kaepernick got the offense to the line; they were out of timeouts for the final 14 minutes of the game.
Meanwhile, Kaepernick was sacked four times, and the 49ers didn't score a touchdown until Miami set them up by losing a muffed punt.
"We got beat a couple times, just got beat up front," Harbaugh said when asked about the sacks. "And one time for sure he got fooled by the coverage."
Of course, Kaepernick came within a blink (or an uncalled pass interference) of a deep flea-flicker bomb to Randy Moss in the third quarter.
But NFL games are mainly won and lost on third down, and the 49ers converted only one out of their first nine third-down tries in this game.
Then, on their 10th third down of the game, it was third-and-5 at midfield with just over two minutes left and the 49ers hoping to kill the clock.
Kaepernick, who hadn't run much all game, faked to Gore going right and galloped around the left side, past a few defenders, and just glided into the end zone.
In celebration, Kaepernick kissed the tattoo on his right arm and -- this is so Kaepernick -- hours later tweeted a picture of the moment with a comment:
"Score a touchdown, kiss your tattoo. Kaepernicking."
And there you go: man of few words with the media, but fascinating everywhere else.
That's the 49ers' offensive catalyst now -- it's not a bad thing, it's just different.
No, the 49ers offense is not exactly peaking for the playoffs or revving at full-throttle as they head into the next two huge road games at New England on Sunday night and then at Seattle.
They're probably not beating Tom Brady's Patriots going 2 for 10 on third down, let's put it that way.
Instead, they're in a December adjustment period, with a young QB, working in new formations to take advantage of his skills, and hoping to rack up victories along the way.
But the 49ers knowingly put themselves in this spot by switching QBs at such a late stage of such an important season, and now it's on Kaepernick.
He has to be Alex Smith ... and more.
"We can just do more with Kap because he can run with the ball, very athletic," Gore said. "But basically it's the same (offense), just a little bit more read-option."
The 49ers want Kaepernick to manage the game, which he did Sunday.
And they want him to be spectacular when the spectacular moment arrives, and again, he did that, too.
It wasn't close to perfect. But, after last week's loss, it's what the 49ers needed.
They will need more Kaepernicking in the coming weeks, for good or bad, and they know it. Ready or not, here it comes.