San Francisco 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick’s Performance “Breakdown”

The so-called experts are throwing in the towel for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. After a dismal, some would say a pathetic performance, verse the Arizona Cardinals, many feel that he will not be in the Bay Area next season. It’s only week three folks and last I checked, meaningful games are rarely won in week 3.

It is not how you start, but definitely how you finish.

Granted, Kaepernick  completed just 9 out of 19 passes for 67 yards and threw 4 interceptions. Just typing that out was painful but it is what it is. His first two interceptions were converted to two touchdowns by the stingy Cardinals defense.

That put the 49ers in a hole from the start. What also did not help was offensive coordinator Geep Chryst’s stubbornness to stick to the run game.  But that is another topic for discussion.

Let’s focus on Colin Kaepernick here.

On the first interception, it was third down with ten yards to go. If you see the breakdown below, Kaepernick has pressure on both sides and up the middle. He does not have a clean pocket and definitely no open windows for the pass. If he steps up into the throw, he’d be sacked – thus depending on his arm strength (which is pretty darn good), Kaepernick throws off of his back foot (to TE Vernon Davis).

Kap INT 1







The ball was intercepted and taken for a touchdown by Arizona.

Kap INT 1 v2

The throw and read was fine in my opinion. If Kaepernick puts the ball to the outside a little more, it’d be a first down to Davis and nobody would question if he has the ability to “read defenses.” But if you look closely (picture 1), wide receiver Anquan Boldin is wide open over the middle. This is where most quarterbacks take the safe play and dump it off before the first down marker and have the receiver run to move the chains.

Perhaps Kaepernick did not see Boldin?

If that is the case, then he isn’t seeing the field or “reading” the defense properly. Which equates to the 49ers having big problems at the quarterback position. But in my opinion, he tried to get the first down on third and long, which caused the ill-advised throw. However, why is Kaepernick and this offense consistently in third and long situations? That’s on Geep Chryst if you ask me.

Not Colin Kaepernick.

Let’s take a closer look at the second interception that was taken back for a touchdown. If you see the breakdown below, on this play both Vernon Davis (on top) and wide receiver Torrey Smith (deep bottom) are double covered. Hence, that leaves Anquan Boldin one on one with his defender.

Kap INT 2

The breakdown in the picture clearly shows Kaepernick wanting to take a deep shot with Davis. He is staring the tight end down (a big mistake verse a top notch defense). Again, Davis was double covered on the pass play. Here, Kaepernick waited too long for the play to develop. He should have gotten rid of the ball immediately once he saw the safety roll towards Davis.

Boldin is open again, but the young quarterback wanted to see if the big play would develop with his tight end. By the time Kaepernick looked towards Boldin, pressure was hot (yes again) and in his face. He was late on the throw which cost the team tremendously, putting them in a 14-0 hole. This was on Kap.

But imagine if there was little to no pressure for Colin on the play.

Would he have taken off and run for the first down, as he so often does? Would he have completed the pass to Boldin? These are questions that we will not know until the offensive line woes are fixed.

I think it is fair to say, Kaepernick should have enough time to go through at least two progressions if not three, right?

The 49ers lost two Pro Bowl lineman this past offseason – Mike Iupati (Cardinals) and Anthony Davis (retirement). Let’s be real here, Kaepernick has a long way to go. But it is too early to throw in the towel on the young quarterback.

Week one verse the Minnesota Vikings, the 49ers had their run game going, their pass game being effective and came out with the victory. The Monday Night Football crew was gushing on how Kaepernick was going through his reads and completed a high percentage of his passes. Two weeks later he can’t read defenses?

That is rubbish.

The Vikings were playing the same scheme the Steelers and Cardinals played. They double covered Davis and Smith often leaving the front seven to contain San Francisco’s run. It benefited San Francisco 1 out of 3 times.

The Steelers and Cardinals have the defensive personnel to do that. The Vikings didn’t – which was why running back Carlos Hyde had a coming out party. It is that simple (with obviously a few other intricacies).

The leader Kaepernick is, he took full accountability for the interceptions and ultimately the loss verse the Cardinals. There was no finger pointing by the young quarterback. It would be easy for him to simply point out that this is a new system, new offensive line and new defense the 49ers have.

But he will not do that.

Kaepernick will fight until the end. He is an ultimate competitor. The franchise has many other holes to worry about and quarterback should not be one of them (at least for now).

Everything that went wrong for Kaepernick is fixable. He needs to settle down and trust his teammates. Even if that means taking the check downs which he opted not to this past Sunday. Getting running back Reggie Bush and wide receiver Bruce Ellington on track will help in the passing attack as well.

For now, quarterback Colin Kaepernick is San Francisco’s best shot at winning games.

Shakeel Khan is a sports team writer for the San Francisco 49ers at Pro Football Central