Colin Kaepernick Thwarted
Since the former Nevada Quarterback took the NFL by storm in his Sophomore year, reaching the Super Bowl after replacing starting QB Alex Smith midway into the season, he has been praised, criticized and criticized some more for the majority of the season. What we have seen from Kaepernick all his 2013 season has been his lack of a passing presence. In 2013, Kaepernick averaged only 199.8 passing yards per game (ranked 30th in the league), while rushing for 524 of the 49ers’ 2,201 rushing yards this season (ranks 3rd in the NFL). Compared to Kaepernick’s 2012 season where he averaged 226.7 yards and 62.4% completion percentage through the air as well as 38 yards rushing per game, 2013 was considerably less productive. This season, Kaepernick averaged just 199.8 passing yards and a 58.4% completion percentage through the air as well as only rushing for 32.75 yards per game. What could be most attributed to Kaepernick’s drop-off? Well for starters, Kaepernick’s favorite target Michael Crabtree tore his achilles heel before the start of the regular season and was forced to miss all but 5 games this season. Another factor could be the 49ers’ reliance on their running game. This season while their passing offense was the 3rd-worst in the NFL, their rushing offense was the 3rd-best. But in reality that is no excuse for the 3rd-year QB to be completing only 58% of his throws and turn the ball over 10 times. What was great though about Kaepernick in these 2013 playoffs was that even with all of the odds stacked against him, he was able to put up two solid performances against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in the Wild Card round and then Cam Newton and the Panthers in the Divisional Round. In Kaepernick’s first two playoff games, he averaged 211.5 yards through the air as well as 56.5 yards on the ground including a rushing touchdown against the Panthers. With all of that said, when looking at Kaepernick’s play against the Seahawks this past Sunday, we must ask ourselves: could we have seen this coming? In my estimation yes and no. Yes in the fact that Kaepernick rushed for 130 yards on the ground. What surprised me was not the fact that Kaepernick was able to rush for more than 56.5 yards, but rather the fact that he was able to get 130 against Seattle! This season Seattle had averaged 101.6 rushing yards per game (ranked 7th in the NFL), so to see the opposing Quarterback burn the Seahawks for 130 was nothing short of astonishing. However, where Kaepernick missed the mark this past Sunday was with his passes. Typically we’ve seen Kaepernick take down even the best of defenses with his passing ability, however this game we saw Kaepernick crumble under the pressure of Seattle’s bright lights (as predicted). After 3 pretty decent quarters throwing and running the football, Kaepernick folded, turning the ball over one every single 49er possession. In the closing seconds after throwing and interception and fumbling in two earlier 4th quarter drive, Kaepernick once again was intercepted with :22 remaining on the clock. In effect Kaepernick’s interception gave the drive, the game, and the NFC Championship to the rightful Seahawks. I guess we could have seen this coming. Kaepernick was going up against a historically good pass defense consisting of Richard “The Best Corner in the Game” Sherman and Byron Maxwell that had allowed only 172.0 passing yards per game and had intercepted opposing quarterbacks 28 times. This season while Kaepernick’s running ability has remained existent, his passing abilities once relatively unstoppable to defensive coordinators has now become a thing of the past.