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October 22, 2014

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SUPER BOWL:

Gamblers betting on Colin Kaepernick more than any player in history

Quarterback’s props include over/under 235.5 passing yards, 47.5 rushing yards

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is surrounded by reporters during media day for the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, in New Orleans.

Colin Kaepernick

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick answers reporters' questions during media day Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, for Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. Launch slideshow »

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The calls for Colin Kaepernick started coming in days before the game.

The team of oddsmakers at William Hill sports books thought the 10 proposition wagers they posted involving Kaepernick for the NFC Championship Game two weeks ago was sufficient. They underestimated the appeal of the second-year pro who took over at quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers midway through the season.

William Hill got slammed with bets from gamblers and phone calls from sports book directors, especially in Reno, where Kaepernick spent his college years, asking for more props on No. 7.

“I can’t ever remember people calling in from other properties saying we want more props on a certain player,” said Jimmy Vaccaro, William Hill spokesman and 35-year Vegas oddsmaking veteran. “This is the only time ever.”

Win or lose Sunday in New Orleans, where the 49ers are holding strong as 3.5- to 4-point favorites over the Baltimore Ravens, Kaepernick will make history. He’s poised to become the most bet-on individual player in one game in the history of sports betting in Nevada.

Kaepernick will surpass Tom Brady, who most recently reached the Super Bowl last season, and Peyton Manning, who last played in the big game three years ago. It’s an unofficial distinction because Nevada doesn’t keep records on how much was bet on props, let alone on individuals.

But Vaccaro hints it might not even be close.

“I’m not a rocket scientist, but this one is easy to figure out,” Vaccaro said. “Where he played in state and being on a powerful West Coast team in the Super Bowl helps, I think the biggest thing is as popular as Manning and Brady were in the past, they weren’t running the ball like this kid. You have so much more you can do with him. He does 50 percent more than the great quarterbacks in the past, all the way back to (Joe) Montana and (John) Elway. He’s the perfect player that correlates to the new age of props.”

William Hill has unveiled 23 props on Kaepernick for the Super Bowl, ranging from the usual over/under on passing and rushing yards to the inventive on if he will gain both more than 100 rushing yards and 300 passing yards. The “yes” is offered at 10-to-1 on the latter prop.

Although the Kaepernick betting craze’s headquarters are in Northern Nevada, Las Vegas is more than on board. The LVH Superbook posted 41 different wagers involving Kaepernick.

When Red Rock sports book director Jason McCormick mulled best-case scenario Super Bowl teams earlier in the playoffs, Kaepernick was the reason he named the 49ers first.

“There’s just so much you can do with him,” McCormick said. “The props turn out to be a little more intriguing.”

The quarterback’s popularity means the vast majority of bettors take him to go over his posted total. This trend hurt sports books in the divisional round, when the 49ers beat the Green Bay Packers 45-31.

Kaepernick threw for 263 yards and two touchdowns in the game, eclipsing the respective over/unders of 219.5 and 1.5. Most notably, however, Kaepernick rushed for 181 yards — 140.5 more than the total Station Casinos posted.

“That was a little off,” McCormick laughed. “He ran wild.”

Las Vegas made some money back on Kaepernick the next week. Despite another strong showing to lead the 49ers over the Falcons 28-24, Kaepernick went under most of his props.

His posted passing over/unders were 241.5 yards and 17 completions. He went 16 for 21 for 233 yards and ran for only 21 yards, 29.5 off of sports books’ total.

“We won some of the bigger bets out there, but we got carried out on the longest run he had going over 19 yards,” Vaccaro said. “We made a few dollars on the props, but that’s not the big thing to me. The total number of tickets is the most important because it drives entertainment and interest, and that was a big number.”

William Hill booked $100,000 worth of action on Kaepernick in the NFC Championship Game, as much as 10 times more than it would normally expect on a single player. The Super Bowl handle on Kaepernick will dwarf that figure.

Kaepernick’s performance alone won’t dictate whether sports books profit on Sunday, but it will make a significant dent. That’s more than the vast majority of players who advance to a Super Bowl can say.

“The props give you a feel for all the over-the-top craziness about this kid,” Vaccaro said.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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