For the second straight week, the San Francisco 49ers got pummeled by a superior opponent. A quick start has turned sour, and the team is looking for answers to why it couldn’t back up it’s season opening win. It’s always easy to blame two different positions — head coach and quarterback — as they always receive the most heat. In this case, Colin Kaepernick is certainly to blame for his lackluster start in 2015.
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Outside of garbage time in the loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 2, the newly renovated Kaepernick has yet to deliver. He put up modest numbers against the Minnesota Vikings with just over 200 yards in the air and on the ground, but didn’t record a touchdown. The offense struggled to move the ball until Carlos Hyde got into rhythm.
Kaepernick’s stat line looks incredible against the Steelers completing 70 percent of his passes for over 300 yards and two touchdowns. However, it’s hard to take much away when San Francisco was down by 26 points heading into the fourth quarter.
Then, last Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals exposed Kaepernick’s shortcomings. He completed less than 50 percent of his passes — nine of them to his receivers and four of them to Cardinals defenders. The 49ers defense looked abysmal for the second straight week and Hyde didn’t have much production (15 carries for 51 yards), but the quarterback can’t put the team in such a terrible situation. Two of those interceptions were returned for a touchdown in the first eight minutes of the game.
Even worse is there’s nothing else to blame for Kaepernick’s terrible throws. The offensive line’s protection was fine all game. His bad throws were a result of his feet not being set and sailed behind his receivers. That made it easy for Justin Bethel, Tyrann Mathieu, and Jerraud Powers to pick off the quarterback. His decision making and not reading the defense well resulted in the mistakes, and it didn’t get much better as the game progressed.
It’s already to the point where reporters are asking Jim Tomsula if Kaepernick is still the starting quarterback. The head coach said he still believed in him, which is exactly what he said about the only guy backing Kaepernick up, Blaine Gabbert, in the preseason.Aug 29, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Blaine Gabbert (2) rolls out of the pocket during the second half against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos won 19-12. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Would the 49ers really make a drastic move? While they may move on from Kaepernick eventually thanks to an incentive-based contract that made him bet on himself, it would have to take multiple bad outings for Gabbert to grab his role. With low expectations, the current signal caller will get more opportunities.
It is frustrating that Kaepernick has fallen off so much since January 2014. It’s even more troubling that Mathieu was willing to call out the passing game in public by saying it was too simple.
The 49ers did have to make things easier after a confusing offense last year resulted in inconsistent production and giving up lots of sacks, but they can’t make things so vanilla that it’s easy for the defense to figure out what’s going on.
With all the talk of Kaepernick’s offseason improvement with Kurt Warner, something like the result in Arizona shouldn’t happen.
Either he’s not using what he learned, or he’s thinking about it way too much and making himself uncomfortable under center. Regardless of the situation, he needs to find those answers in a hurry.
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