Completing 70% of his passes (a league best) was not enough. Being third in the league in yards/attempt (7.98) and QB rating (104.1) was not enough. There was a younger, hotter, more dynamic hand on the ball, and Jim Harbaugh decided that it was time for Colin Kaepernick to assume the reigns as the starting quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers.

Be careful what you wish for, Jim.


The San Francisco 49ers lost their third game of the season today because their new starting quarterback put them in a position to lose the game, but that was not Kaepernick's only letdown today, he also failed to give this team this "explosive" more dynamic offense that we are all expecting to see with him at the helm.

Let's start with the safety. A lot of folks are fixated on a blown call by the referees who said Kaepernick's throw did not go past the line of scrimmage when replays seem to indicate that it did, and rightfully so, I could see myself getting caught up on this too, but guess what? Blown calls happen in the NFL. It is up to the players to not put the decision on the hands of the referees, and in this case Kaepernick did. It was a 1st&10 from San Francisco's 17-yard line, and when the ball left Kaepernick's hands he was a good 20-plus yards behind the line of scrimmage and halfway into his own endzone. Why? James Laurinaitis broke through one of the A-gaps (more on that later) and he was on Kaepernick's face almost immediately, forcing the young QB to run back to avoid the sack and try to make something happen. The rest is history. Kaepernick's decision to run back and into his own endzone put him in a more difficult position than when he first realized Laurinaitis was right on his face. He threw the ball away just after a Rams' defender failed to bring him down by his jersey and he did so completely out of balance. Kaepernick put himself in a position where his throwaway was close enough to put the call at the mercy of the official's judgement. Blown calls happen, this is nothing compared to what the Lions went through this past Thanksgiving.

Let's move on to the fumble. Horrible, disgusting play-call, but let's get to it. It was 3rd&3, coincidentally also from the 49ers' 17-yard line and the offense was on a pistol formation, Kaepernick's staple in his college days at Nevada. Frank Gore was lined up right behind him, and Tedd Ginn Jr, on the field on this 3-WR set, motioned from the far right and lined up behind Gore just before the ball was snapped. The Rams, with three down linemen, blitzed two extra defenders from the right side which were left unblocked (by design from what I can tell). Kaepernick saw this and realized that either handing the ball off to Gore on the read or keeping it himself would had resulted in a loss of yards, so he went with his third option on the play, pitching it to Ginn Jr. who was running to the left. We all know what happened next: bad pitch, fumble, Janoris Jenkins recovered it and stumbled into the endzone for the Rams' only touchdown of the game. One two-point conversion later it was a tied game.

At this point there were just over three minutes left in regulation, St. Louis' offense had only accounted for two points (the two-point conversion), yet the game was tied at 10, and Kaepernick was directly responsible for all 20 points on the board. Last Thursday in Upon Further Review, I stated that in order for Kaepernick to be successful this season he needs to avoid being the reason the team losses. Kaepernick has a very bright future ahead of him, and there is no doubt in my mind that he is the best QB on this roster straight up, but maybe he needs to take a few lessons from the man that he replaced. I can't say it would be for certain, but here's how I see Alex Smith handling those two scenarios: he takes the negative yardage both times and lives to see another down. That is vintage Smith, it is part of the reason people argue he rightfully lost his job to Kaepernick. The stats mentioned at the beginning of this piece are what Smith was able to accomplish while doing his best to not lose the game, doing just enough to win. That wasn't enough.

Instead the 49ers once again failed to put together a three-game winning streak this season, largely because of Kaepernick. The offensive line, fresh off back-to-back outstanding games, often struggled against the Rams' pressure, the lowlights coming on the home team's two defensive scores. The play-calling was questionable several times during this game, and for the second time in as many games San Francisco's coaching staff seemed outdone by St. Louis'. Nevertheless, last time I checked, this is the NFL: sometimes inferior competition will outplay you, sometimes the best coaches get out-coached, and sometimes the referees will blow calls; but regardless of it all, when the quarterback gets the ball he needs to be able to make the best possible decision based on the circumstances laid out in front of him, and Kaepernick made the wrong decisions today, and it cost his team a chance to win.

Don't believe me? Ask him:

"I gave up those points that were on the scoreboard for the Rams. That's 100 percent my fault." - Colin Kaepernick.

Now let's move on to the other beef we should have with Kaepernick's performance today: where is this explosive offense he is supposed to bring with him? If the team is going to risk playing the young QB who is more likely to make a mistake, then the reward would be the improved offense he turns the unit into, but that was not the case today. Instead Kaepernick had his worst game as a starter in the NFL, throwing for barely over 200 yards on 32 attempts while being sacked three times, although he did have 84 rushing yards on nine carries. He couldn't outplay Sam Bradford. After performing well against a Bears' defense that was not fully prepared for his improved accuracy, Kaepernick did just enough to help the team win on the road against a bad Saint's defense, and he had an average game today against a St. Louis defense that is, well, average (and yes, Delanie Walker dropped a crucial pass that may have turned out to be the game-winning touchdown - Alex Smith knows that feeling). Don't get me wrong, Kaepernick does show flashes often, and I still think he's the best QB on the roster, but you wonder whether Harbaugh made the right decision giving him the reigns when Smith's style of play seemingly fits this team better right now.

Nonetheless, if I would disagree with a Harbaugh decision more than his choice to play Kaepernick over Smith, it would be him having a quick hook on the young QB and turning the offense back to Smith. The decision has already been made, and Harbaugh needs to stand behind it and do everything possible to help the QB he hand-picked help him lead this team to another Lombardi Trophy. Whether that will work out remains to be seen.

Quote:
Follow me on twitter @DiegoDelBarco