San Francisco's starting quarterback was hit hard four times in his first three drives and struggled to build rhythm with his wideouts before his fourth and final march led to success.
Maybe next week, with Harbaugh confirming that Kaepernick and the starters will see time in San Francisco's fourth and final preseason tilt.
Here what else we learned from Sunday's two-game slate:
- While Kaepernick was hot-and-cold, Philip Rivers caught fire and never looked back. The Chargers passer ripped off a 9-of-10 day for 85 yards with a 10-yard touchdown strike to tight end Antonio Gates. Rivers was impressive, seeing the field well, cycling through his progressions and making wise decisions. Last week's loss to the Seahawks was ghastly, but San Diego's signal-caller has burned bright in two of his three preseason tilts.
-- Marc Sessler
- Carson Palmer was not sharp in his final tune-up before the regular season. The veteran quarterback missed an easy touchdown throw to Michael Floyd on Arizona's first drive, then threw a pick six to Bengals cornerback Terence Newman on the team's following possession. "We missed some wide open guys," Bruce Arians verified to NBC's Michele Tafoya.
- Bengals All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins looked tentative in his first action since tearing his ACL last November. Atkins played one series and was pushed around by Cardinals guard Ted Larsen. A reminder that having Atkins back for Week 1 doesn't necessarily mean the Bengals will have the force of nature they remember. At least not yet.
-- Dan Hanzus