Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports
Colin Kaepernick is no longer the hot hand.
As the twelfth week of the NFL season dawned the San Francisco 49ers found themselves tied for second place in the NFC West with the Seattle Seahawks. They had battled through a myriad of issues through the beginning months of the season, but found themselves in position to make their typical end of season push into the playoffs.
Instead they have been pushed into the abyss.
The 49ers will miss the NFC playoffs for the first time since 2010, and will finish with their worst record since that season.
That's what happens when you lose four out of five during crunch time in an NFL season.
That's what happens when you have a three game stretch in which your offense can only muster 23 points.
That's what happens when you have a quarterback that completes less than sixty percent of his passes, averages only six yards per attempt, and throws more interceptions than touchdowns.
In November of 2012 Colin Kaepernick was the hot hand.
He took the NFL by storm. In his first two starts Kaepernick knocked off a Bears team that at the time had the best record in the NFC and then went into the Superdome and knocked off the Saints.
Kaepernick wasn't just the hot hand, he was the hot wheels as well.
With Kaepernick at the controls the 49ers enjoyed great success running the read option. The opposition couldn't figure out a way to stop it, and Kaepernick averaged over ten yards per carry on designed running plays.
The hot hand led the 49ers all the way to the Super Bowl.
In that offseason the sky seemed to be the limit. Numerous commentators were calling Kaepernick a future superstar with potential to eventually be among the best quarterbacks to ever play the game.
It wasn't long into 2013 before the hot hand started to be cooled down. In week two and three the 49ers offense was held to a total of ten points in back to back losses. The hot hand was ice cold, throwing four interceptions and no touchdowns in those losses.
After some tweaks to the play calling the team got back on track, the hot hand began to warm up again, and the team found it's way back to the NFC Championship game.
And the hot hand played well. The hot wheels were on fire.
And then the wheels fell off, and the hot hand turned the ball over three times in the fourth quarter.
The 2014 season started out in almost exactly the same way as the previous on had. The hot hand came out firing and the 49ers knocked off the Cowboys, and the offense looked like it would pick right up where it left off. Then came the loss to Chicago with the hot hand turning the ball over four times, and a loss to Arizona in which the coaching staff decided to shelve the run and put the game on the shoulders of the hot hand.
And then the playoff push that never came.
It really all started to fall apart in Denver way back in week seven. From that point forward the 49ers offense has scored more than 17 points in only two of nine games.
Over that period the hot hand has completed 155 out of 267 pass attempts for 1709 yards with 7 touchdowns and an NFL passer rating of 76.5.
Compare those numbers to the last nine starts made by Terrelle Pryor which saw him complete 153 out of 262 pass attempts for 1766 yards with 7 touchdowns.
It's even worse when you look at how the hot hand has played during the playoff run that never was. Over the last five weeks he has completed 80 out of 134 pass attempts for 806 yards with 3 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. That's a rating of 68.8.
Jacksonville rookie Blake Bortles has a rating of 68.4 over his last five starts.
And it's even worse when you look at how the hot hand has played in the second half of games over the last five weeks. Over that stretch the hot hand has put up a quarterback rating of 56.8.
Colin Kaepernick is no longer the hot hand. And it looks as though he will never get it back.
Date: December 26, 2014 at 5:32 PM
Comment: Four season into his career Kaepernick has never worked to learn the QB position. He just believes his job is to run the ball. He has no idea on how to run a offense. He fails to even to get a play off on time. His foot work is unbelievable. He has no concept of offensive football. He only knows to run the ball. He has proved in 4 seasons he has no plans to work to develop any necessary skills. Another big mistake. Time to move on. Why ruin 2015.
Date: December 24, 2014 at 8:06 PM
Comment: Sort of strange in how you can comment on the obvious and some fans will call you a "hater". I completely agree with you about Kaepernick. I also think that the big salary that York/Baalke granted him prematurely hurt the moral of the team. It happens in other businesses and I doubt football is any different. I believe the team was "lost" by the off season antics of some players, overpaying some players and underpaying others, and the constant incompetence of the 49er managerial staff. Most businesses have very defined responsibilities, the 49ers do not. For a coach to waste time with the press on the condition of the grass at the beginning of the season was unbelievable. Those questions are answered by either a press agent or high level management. The coach? Please. Someone should tell Jed York to stop posturing , delegate responsibilities, and if necessary take the blame when things go wrong. I hope Harbaugh goes to the Raiders and takes them to the playoffs. It would serve this 49er management right. I doubt I'll follow this team next year.
Date: December 24, 2014 at 4:13 PM
Comment: It is impossible for the 9ers to end with a worse record than 2010.
Date: December 24, 2014 at 7:33 AM
Comment: So are they goin to start from scratch again? It was sad to see.
Date: December 24, 2014 at 4:46 AM
Comment: My thought is Kaepernick is a retard. The delay of game penalties due to needing a wristband to call a play, the unknown of who actually is calling the plays is it Roman or is it Harbaugh. How about Kap, does he have the option to change a call at the line, if so he can't make a proper read. As per my opening thought, he's a retard trade "Him" and move on to the draft and develope a quarterback, "Jed".
Date: December 23, 2014 at 10:38 PM
Comment: There is no "I" in TEAM. Last time I checked the NFL was a team effort.
Date: December 23, 2014 at 8:00 PM
Comment: I'd look at the 4 losses to the Bears, Rams, Raiders and Seahawks as season enders. Our QB had 11 turnovers and 3 TD's in those 4 Losses. An 11-3 TD/turnover ratio with an average QBR of about 60.
It's connected to issues outside of the game plan and blocking. Kaepernicks knows what his issues are and how bad they impact the team. You saw it in his face after the Raiders loss. This season has been a season of smelling salts for Kap. In lieu of calling the media "haters" he now says he plans on working on his pocket game in the offseason. Things that should have happened straight out of the draft. From the bench. If there's one knock I have on Harbaugh it's that he did in fact fail to develope Kap and by all public indications seems to have fostered the idea that Kaps skill set was good enough as is. That worked for Smith, to build confidence but IMO Kap needed a Walsh or Seifert type coach to be a tad harder on him. Demand more. And honestly critique his game. Once Jim went with Gabbert as backup benching Kap in game was off the table.
Now he's stuck with one offseason to both learn a new more complex playbook AND work on improving a number of issues in his passing game.
Date: December 23, 2014 at 3:23 PM
Comment: WOW Jack - you sure brought the know-it-alls out of the woodwork!
It almost looks like Grant asked one of his English profs at ucle to assign a class the chore of writing as much garbage as the could, in as little time.
Good article and backed up as usual with your homework on the stats.
Date: December 23, 2014 at 3:17 PM
Comment: The 49ers problems this season are not all on Kaep. I really think it was and is the perfect storm of several issues plagueing them from Kaeps not so great playing to bad coaching injured players and Harbs issues with the front office and as we all know shyt rolls down hill. I am sad to See Hrabs go and I will forever bleed #redandgoldtilimdeadandcold
Date: December 23, 2014 at 1:16 PM
Comment: No, I am not comparing him to John Elwa. There is only one John Elwsy! What I was comparing is fickle fans reactions and willingness to build a player up and then tear him down. It is easy to make comments after the fact.....try making those decisions in seconds with 200 and 300 lb players running at/after you. I'm saying give a player (s) time to develop, to learn from their mistakes, to improve.
Date: December 23, 2014 at 1:02 PM
Comment: nice try, but Wrong! ASmith did not lose his job from an injury, he lost it when he became healthy and his coach thought the other guy should be the starter! If PWillis or Bowman get healthy and lose their starting job to CBorland then THAT is what I mean by being benched! Again question posed: If its ALL kap's fault then why is he not being benched ala RGIII or any of the other starting qb's who have? Doesn't his coach SEE he alone is the problem and not dropped balls or damaged OLine or injured WRec's or the Off Cord???? Does any writer or columnist have the guts to ask Harbaugh these questions....or are you/ they too afraid of him?
Date: December 23, 2014 at 11:56 AM
Comment: I have been a Denver Broncos fan for over 35 years and I love the game of football. The last time I checked football was a team sport, no one man is responsible for a team's decline. All season we have been hearing about the Niners front office problems. Unfortunately, that kind of discord is bound to filter down to the team.....they are professional athletes but they are human. You combine that with the injuries and lackluster performances and it is bound to end poorly. I remember a great quarterback for the Broncos who was not well-received by some Denver .fans. They were ready to send him packing. But smarter minds prevailed and given time and experience he became one of the most prolific and beloved quarterbacks to play the game. That said, the Niners front office knew who they got when they selected Colin Kaepernick, and they should be working with those strenghths. He deserves the time to develop and to reach his true potential. Fans should not be so willing to give up on a player, especially one that they were high on such a short time ago, and especially one with who has shown so much potential.
Date: December 23, 2014 at 9:12 AM
Comment: Sure kaep couldn't hold Wilson's supporter right now, but what will tomsula do with him? You really think kaep has the acumen to get 5 different systems/ oc like alex did? He can't even get this one which it is safty d they dummies down for him. The yorks are firing their playoff coach once again hoping their gm will save them. ( check out his 2012 draft) the yorks should sell the team to owners who like football, and don't just want a cash cow to milk.
Date: December 23, 2014 at 8:58 AM
Comment: Kaepernick needs to look for second and third option receivers. He locks on one receiver (usually Boldin) and defenses know it. By the time he figures out that the one guy he is focused on is covered his injury-riddled O-line has been penetrated, his pocket collapsed and he is a sitting duck.
He also needs to have a better pocket awareness. Now that defenses have figured out his tendencies they know his second option is run and they are waiting for him (usually). He is still an amazing athlete and can often make big plays with his physical gifts (as against the Chargers).
But mainly Kaepernick needs to grow up. He is easily flustered and frustrated and let's his emotions (cockiness, fears and anxieties) impact his game. Too many highs and lows. After his long TD run against the Chargers he was King of the World again, for a moment. When the Chargers tied the game you could see the doubt and insecurity on his face.
We never saw that on Joe Montana's face. Or Steve Young's. Or even Jeff Garcia's. Winning quarterbacks can't wait for those situations. Colin Kaepernick is afraid of them.
"Champions act like champions before they become champions!"
Date: December 23, 2014 at 7:56 AM
Comment: Tai09. With a comment like that, what are you even doing on a sports blog? So only God can judge Kaepernick, but you can judge "hatefully" jack hammer. That makes a lot of sense. I sure wish we could keep some emotion out of the blogs and deal more with the facts.
Date: December 22, 2014 at 11:58 PM
Comment: Im a seahawks fan. The seahawks were the best before their superbowl win thats my opinion. But dont you ever EVER talk bull crap about colin kaepernick EVVEERRR!! i think your just jealous you cant play sports like him or any other athlete that your talk crap about. Jealousy is a sad thing and especially since your probably a grown man or woman. I think i know more abiut sports than you because its not just how the player plays its whats making him play that way you never know he could be going through rough times at home, but your too stupid and idiotic to realize that before you post bad things about people. NEXT TIME YOU POINT OUT THE BAD IN ANYONE!!!, SAY SOMETHING BAD ABOUT YOURSELF. ITS NOT YOUR JOB TO JUDGE THATS GODS JOB......YOUR WELCOME
By: Finn MacNiall
Date: December 22, 2014 at 11:19 PM
Comment: It's that simple huh? Kap has problems sure but blame him fer or dropped passes? For a totally inept Vernon Davis? For a center that cannot hike a ball? For play calling that forgot the Running game.
Two words of advice: drop dead.
Date: December 22, 2014 at 10:55 PM
Comment: Great analysis. A lot of folks are going to try and pin blame on the O-line. It definitely hasn't played well, but they've given him time. The other piece of this is that the QB and Center together call out protection adjustments based on what the defense is showing. Of course, this requires that the QB has the capacity to understand what the defense is presenting. Perfect example is Peyton-he is not only a HOF QB, but his and C's adjustments pre-snap are crucial to protecting the QB. Which gives him time to throw. Which leads to completions. Which leads to touchdowns. Amazing.
Date: December 22, 2014 at 10:13 PM
Comment: If ALL blame for Niners season falls on Kap's shoulders then I ask this question: What games was Harbaugh watching? He didn't hesitate to bench ASmith, then why not Kap? And don't say there was nobody else! Didn't Gabbert throw a 4th qtr TD! Walsh even benched Montana in the middle of a playoff game. Has any writer had the guts to ask Harbaugh why he couldn't bench Kap for a game or two or three? Stop blaming Kap, it's not his fault his coach is BLIND!!!
Date: December 22, 2014 at 9:33 PM
Comment: I agree with a lot of the same points as Frank did earlier. What I have seen as a major difference in the past two years are the following:
- This is the first season that the O-Line has been decimated by injuries and has had to rely on sub-par reserves. Plus, this line has never been very good in the passing game and is totally built for power running, which is something that the coaching staff went away from for major periods of time this season. The old adage is a QB's best friend is a running game. Plus we all know that Kap's biggest strength is running in the open field, but he was rarely called upon to do so and was forced to be something he is not -- a pocket passer.
- A supposedly beefed up receiving corp. Vernon Davis took the year off, which killed us since he has been an elite TE that was a matchup nightmare and opened up the passing and running game. Crabtree, Boldin and Lloyd all underperformed.
- A defense that was riddled with major injuries, so our offense was forced to carry the burden. Without the run game, our D didn't get to rest, limiting their effectiveness.
We knew who Kap was since his Super Bowl run and have been going away from his strengths ever since
Date: December 22, 2014 at 9:31 PM
Comment: Even in this game against San Diego, I cheered like a lunatic when Kaep ran 90 yards for a TD, knowing full well that it is all deception. We cheer when he makes a play like that because it's electric, but, in that moment, we forget that it's likely all he'll ever be good at. He'll probably never progress into an accurate passer from the pocket like Young did. A friend of mine told me today that Walsh would make Young run extra laps whenever he failed to makes his progressions, missed an open receiver, and took off running. Not sure if of factual, but sounds like a great idea. Kaep would probably like that, so that wouldn't work. Take away his Beats?
Date: December 22, 2014 at 8:56 PM
Comment: I think the article is spot on. Hammer didn't hate on Kap, he simply stated facts and observations. This is all easy to see by just watching the game. Clock management is Kaps fault. He stands behind the line like dear in headlights. He has plenty of time to take the hike. Same with the sacks. He mostly has the time but can't seem to make up his mind to throw it. It is okay to be a Kap fan. But why hate on those who don't share your passion and are not blinded by love. When you place all the blame on coaches you are really showing your ignorance. Harbaugh is the hottest coaching prospect in the country and yet haters say it is all his fault. How dumb is that?
Date: December 22, 2014 at 8:34 PM
Comment: you don't know Jack
Date: December 22, 2014 at 8:21 PM
Comment: Damn Hammer, who did u piss off to get the zone like this. lol. I have no issue with your opinion. Obviously your writing which means you do have some skills. I don't care if you don't say anything rose colored. Maybe you can answer this for me. I notice, even with the Matt's and Tim. I asked one question and u would of thought it was kryptonite. Maybe you can. Why has no one asked Kaep, or Harbs, etc. About having to shorten the playbook since Kaep took over a full season. We talk about Harbs, and the line, and the WR's, and upper management. and oh yeah a partridge in a pair tree, etc. But IMHO shortening the playbook does give me concern for what you can actually call. Any reason on why you think no one answered my question. because that answer will speak volumes about this entire season...
By: claude balls
Date: December 22, 2014 at 8:12 PM
Uh-oh, you've offended the fan boys. Watch your back.
Date: December 22, 2014 at 8:04 PM
Comment: I don't know about never getting the hot hand back, but he hasn't grown as expected and defenses know how to shut him down. The fact remains, the dude just isn't that good right now. I don't put all the blame on him either. We all watched the coaches call plays as if they were trying to get him to throw his way out of his slump.
By: Paulie Vegas
Date: December 22, 2014 at 7:59 PM
Comment: It says he supports that player. And the team he plays for. As opposed to people like yourself, who write "hater" articles and then troll people who comment on ssud articles. You write very well, it's just a shame you dedicate your talents to being a hater instead of being a journalist.
By: Paulie Vegas
Date: December 22, 2014 at 7:50 PM
Comment: LOL, cute comment. Actually I don't own a #7 jersey, but thanks for asking.
Speaking of #7 jerseys...how much did you pay to burn yours?
Date: December 22, 2014 at 7:19 PM
Comment: This article is a big steaming pile of crap by someone who
doesn't have the balls to use his real name. Why does WZ waste time with this garbage?
Date: December 22, 2014 at 6:39 PM
Comment: I agree with Paul Vegas and others that this is a poor article, very poor. Colin Kapernick is not a great quarterback but he is a winner.
By: Jack plunger
Date: December 22, 2014 at 6:30 PM
Comment: Wow webzine writers are bad and unknowledgeable about the game
By: Paulie Vegas
Date: December 22, 2014 at 6:28 PM
Comment: You write very well, but your opinions smell like what I'll leave on the curb tomorrow morning for the garbage man.
Kap has not played well, but to lay 100% of the blame for the Niners bad season is just a phony attempt at headline grabbing. And you know it.
You ignore the o-line issues...the organizational dysfunction that's been a distraction to the entire team...the horrible offensive coaching that tries too hard to take Kap out of his element and turn him into a pure pocket passer (as opposed to Seattle, which formulated a gameplan that played to their QB's strengths...and he's thriving, BTW).
Was listening to ESPN Radio this morning, they had Keyshawn Johnson on and he agreed with all I just said: that Kap has the talent but bad coaching is the reason he stunk this year. And he know a lot more about football than you.
You are the "Niners insider" equivalent of Skip
Bayless: someone who will say anything to get attention, regardless if it's true. Seriously, I'd say you're a joke, but that'd be an offense to actual "jokes."
Date: December 22, 2014 at 6:09 PM
Comment: Obviously this writer knows how to write, but knows nothing about the game of football
Date: December 22, 2014 at 5:40 PM
Comment: This sucks! I thought about being constructive but there is nothing to say. I can't believe webzone lets you write for them!
It sucks! Period.
Date: December 22, 2014 at 5:02 PM
Comment: While you are placing blame on Kaepernick, you better start pointing the finger at the person calling your plays. That person is more responsible for the loses that your quarterback.
Date: December 22, 2014 at 4:10 PM
Comment: Kaepernick will NEVER be even an average NFL QB. He's arena league at best. What a waste of a draft pick. The guy can't hit the broadside of a barn!
Date: December 22, 2014 at 3:37 PM
Comment: Jack Hammer's columns used to be interesting, and then they stopped. What caused the regression? Trying too hard to get mouse clicks? The distraction of better reporters getting the scoops? Will he ever return to writing something with more than trite, sophomoric analysis? No based on my reviewing only his recent work, it doesn't look like Mr. Hammer is ever going to get his ability to write something interesting back.
Date: December 22, 2014 at 3:18 PM
Comment: Your comments on Kaepernick are way too one-sided...did he regress, yes he did. You chose to leave out the fact that our once vaunted OL regressed in a major way, often leaving Kap hung out to dry because they couldn't stop any decent pass rush. You also failed to mention a big down year for Kap's receiving corps...Crabtree, Vernon and even Boldin all under-performed from previous seasons. Then there's Roman...who was a far-too-predictable play caller. Kap's regression is partly his fault...but you should also pin it on his coaching and supporting cast. It's a team effort when any QB succeeds and it's also a team effort when they don't.
Date: December 22, 2014 at 2:44 PM
Comment: We were 6-10 the 2010 season. 2009 is when we were 8-8 last time.
Date: December 22, 2014 at 2:02 PM
Comment: Jack hammer = Grant Cohn. I too was trick by the headline.
Date: December 22, 2014 at 2:01 PM
Comment: all around the NFL, the owners, GM's, coaches all who are "charge" gives the players years to get better. The Jets and the Redskins are two examples. Let's forget what the 49er's did from 2010-2013, they may be a .500 team this year, time to get a new coach, not fair...
By: Jay Pietrobone
Date: December 22, 2014 at 1:54 PM
Comment: I understand the QB gets all the glory and all the blame, but you failed to mention the fact that the starting O-line has had numerous injuries and haven't played an entire game all year. When you are leading the league in sacks allowed, that should tell you something. The guy would barely get the snap, and someone would be in his face. It is hard to be successful for any QB under that type of pressure.
Date: December 22, 2014 at 1:37 PM
Comment: it'd be interesting to see how the new coach uses Kap. Personally, I still think Kap has the talent, and if used in the right way, he can win games for you. I remember he was able to make those long passes back in 2011, 2012 and even last year (2013). Injuries to the team and specifically to the offensive line made a difference. Ultimately, it's the responsibility of the coach to utilize Kap's strength, and hide his weakness. It just didn't work out, and things collapsed like a house of cards.
Date: December 22, 2014 at 1:33 PM
Comment: For a minute there I actually thought we had an article based on what someone in the organization said. Come to find out its a bs opinion piece. SMH
Date: December 22, 2014 at 1:28 PM
Comment: OR they changed there offensive system to force Kap to be a pocket passer behind a line that has been awful in pass protection for years. They ran a offense that didn't play to the strengths of Kap and the rest of the offense....throw in the fact that they didn't make ANY adjustments during the year and in-game (reason for low scoring in 2nd half).
kap was a duel threat that was accurate on passes over 20 yards in 2012, they spread the field much like Seattle does, Jim put a young QB in the best position to win games. Now he has ZERO confidence in the play calls, Oline, and WR dropping balls. You need to blame the offense as a whole (including the coaching staff) not just the QB.
Date: December 22, 2014 at 1:14 PM
Hooray! Someone else who's saying what I've felt is a major problem in addition to the obvious, e.g., time management, half time adjustments, game planning to our players strengths, etc. That the O line's trouble started when Coach Drevno left.
Date: December 22, 2014 at 1:04 PM
Comment: Football - the team sport. How many stupid penalties were there that either ended drives or should not have been called? I saw horrible pass blocking, over and over again, losing yards - ruining timing and confidence. Bad and predictable play calling. It was not just Kap causing the delay of games. That was made obvious. Disappearing tight end, why? Play calling, timing? A too tightly wound coach for a quarterback that needs a Yoda type. Trying to change a quarterback into something he isn't. Ever hear of playing to strengths? Injuries galore- it can happen to the best of them and did! Predatory writers. No speedster receivers starting. A coach that uses the red flag as some sort of temper tantrum.
They need: health, a couple of good pass blockers, a completely different offensive philosophy and change in Off. coaching, to keep Fangio, draft or buy a couple of fast receivers, keep Davis, let go Crabtree and find a dominant outside linebacker or 2. See if Gore will semi -retire with 49er honors for one more year and find a human tank with jets to run the ball.
The team struggled from preseason and then imploded. Its on all of them. But, there's next year. It could be great.
By: Dave B
Date: December 22, 2014 at 12:39 PM
Comment: A lot of the blame could be put at the feet of Kapernick, it's obvious even to the casual fan that he repeats mistakes at an alarming rate. He telegraphs his throws and consistently takes sacks instead of throwing the ball away which put the team in long down and distance situations often. Clock management is certainly not one of his strong points. He causes at least one if not several delay of game penalties a game as well as wasting time outs to prevent delay of game calls. He has a strong arm but his accuracy is erratic. He can run but unless the runs are disguised or come as a result of scrambling other teams have shown that they can successfully defense against the option. Having said that the 49ers have hitched their wagon to this guy and they are the ones who have to deal with it. First of all a new offensive coordinator who recognizes these issues is needed. All quarterbacks particularly young ones are subject to suffering a loss of confidence and it is incumbent on the coaches to help them get their game back. In the interim the 49ers need to draft a quarterback next year in the event this is unable to learn from his mistakes or unable to get his confidence back.
Date: December 22, 2014 at 12:06 PM
Comment: I watched Kaep on numerous Saturday's while he led the University of Nevada - Wolfpack. There he was a man amongst boys until the defenses adjusted to the read option.
They knew his strength was the run, but he was never a top passer.
There was another QB named Vince Young, who had more talent than Colin, but failed miserably in the NFL. This is no fault of the player. When allowed to run, both these guys are amazing runners, but passing is not their strength. Neither posses the ability to look for more than one receiver, if covered they will force the pass which leads to easy interceptions. Other times, the running instinct kicks in, but the wallet is so fat with the millions, they take a dive because of a contract.
Also, please remember back when we were told that our team had so much depth, we could afford to draft college players with one arm, torn up knees, missing feet, etc...?
Good way to sell season tickets in a brand new (expensive) stadium...What a scam that was! After a few injuries, we don't have the depth and wasted picks on those with injuries when healthy players should have been accumulated.
By: Zach Amin
Date: December 22, 2014 at 11:38 AM
Comment: York and Baalke are responsible for demise.