In the past few weeks the San Francisco 49ers have demonstrated that their aerial attack can help win games. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick posted his career best passer rating against the Washington Redskins last week (134.5) and continued his tremendous play in yesterday’s win over the St. Louis Rams.
Kaepernick completed 19 out of 28 passes, for 275 yards including one touchdown pass to tight end Vernon Davis. He also added 4 rushing attempts for 21 yards. These numbers are not sexy per say but do show that Colin is headed in the right direction.
In the last two games, Colin Kaepernick has completed 34 passes out of 52 pass attempts (65.4% pct) for 510 yards and 4 touchdowns with 0 interceptions. He also has 13 rushing attempts for 41 yards. Yes, you may call these numbers pretty sexy.
Most “experts” fail to realize that Kaepernick is still very young and is only in his second year as a starting NFL quarterback. He will encounter some growing pains, like any other player would. Let’s not be quick to write him off just yet.
Kaepernick looked comfortable during yesterday’s game. He was reading the defenses, going through his progressions and hitting the open receiver. He did not force the matter and took what the defense was giving him – and the Rams have a pretty solid defense, in case you did not notice.
Times have changed and so have the faces that Kaepernick is throwing to. Wide receiver Michael Crabtree made his 2013 season debut, catching 2 balls for 68 yards. The play of the game had to have been when Kaepernick hit Crabtree in stride, on a double move, for a 60 yard pass play during Sundays game.
Now that brought some smiles to 49ers’ fans all over – especially mine.
Kaepernick is now throwing to wide receiver Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham, Vernon Davis and soon will have Quinton Patton. That is a big difference when you compare these names to Kyle Williams, A.J. Jenkins, Marlon Moore and Jonathan Baldwin.
According to some “rumors” that are surfacing, Baldwin most likely has played his last game in San Francisco (barring an injury). He was inactive for Sundays game verse the Rams. Personally, I cannot pinpoint as to why he has struggled in Kansas City and now in San Francisco.
I am a bit dumbfounded on this one considering he has good size and speed. But physical attributes do not always translate into success. The hard work must be put in, especially at this level of competition.
The distribution of playing time caught me by surprise a bit. Per 49ers’ insider Matt Maiocco, the wide receiver’s snap count was the following against the Rams (67 total plays):
The 63% for Crabtree tells me that he should be close to 100% prior to the season ending. He did not look as explosive as he did last season, but that is expected in this stage of his comeback. If the 49ers make the playoffs, they will need to have Crabtree close to 100% as possible.
In the past few weeks teams have been concentrating on stopping running back Frank Gore and the 49ers’ running attack. Defenses are playing eight man fronts verse San Francisco, not respecting the passing game That will be hard to do now since Kaepernick has legitimate receivers to throw the ball to. The biggest test will be this week against the Seattle Seahawks.
I am looking forward to see how Kaepernick looks against a stout defense. With his weapons getting healthy and offensive coordinator Greg Roman making better decisions in terms of play calling, look for the 49ers to make an aggressive push for the playoffs.
Seattle has five games left, including one tonight against the New Orleans Saints (the 49ers have four games left). A loss tonight to the Saints and a loss next week to the 49ers would put Seattle only one game ahead for the NFC West title.
I know I am getting ahead of myself but YOLO – right?
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Shakeel Khan is a San Francisco 49ers writer for Pro Football Central