Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports



By now, I would imagine anyone who has any vested interest in the San Francisco 49ers has seen the play.

Backed up on their own 3-yard line, the Niners had an opportunity for a big gain when the St. Louis Rams' defense seemed to make a mistake in coverage, leaving Torrey Smith wide open. Somehow, Colin Kaepernick, who is supposed to be scanning the field and reading the defense, completely missed this. Instead, he stuck with the original play call and handed the ball off to Mike Davis for a one-yard loss. Two plays later, the Rams recorded a safety.


Smith's bewilderment was evident on the play, as he could be seen jumping up and down in frustration. Sadly for Smith, the 49ers, and their fans, plays like this are becoming all too common. This wasn't an isolated incident, this was another example of a quarterback who simply lacks the football IQ to play the position.

You see, Kaepernick just doesn't seem to have the feel for the position. He struggles to read defenses, scan the field, and make the right throw. His pocket presence is non-existent, and his play greatly deteriorates when faced with any kind of pressure. It's gotten to the point where his coaching staff doesn't trust him, and his teammates feel he should be benched to clear his head.

The saving grace for Kaepernick so far has been his natural ability. To his credit, he's freakishly athletic, and sometimes that translates into success in a vacuum. He's had very good back-to-back games against the New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens this season, and even though those teams have horrible defenses, you can only play who's on the schedule. Unfortunately, those performances appear to be more of an aberration, as Kaepernick has regressed again the past two weeks. However, if you look closely at the numbers, you can see this has been coming for a while.

Over his last 13 games, Kaepernick has been held to 174 yards passing or less in nine of them. The 49ers are 3-10 during that span. In a league where rules are geared towards even bad quarterbacks being able to put up big numbers, Kaepernick is almost non-functional throwing the football. Here's a look at his yardage in the aforementioned 13 games.

Week Opponent Yards
2014 Week 13 vs. Seattle 121
2014 Week 14 vs. Oakland 174
2014 Week 15 vs. Seattle 141
2014 Week 16 vs. San Diego 114
2014 Week 17 vs. Arizona 204
2015 Week 1 vs. Minnesota 165
2015 Week 2 vs. Pittsburgh 335
2015 Week 3 vs. Arizona 67
2015 Week 4 vs. Green Bay 160
2015 Week 5 vs. New York Giants 262
2015 Week 6 vs. Baltimore 340
2015 Week 7 vs. Seattle 124
2015 Week 8 vs. St. Louis 162

In addition to the low yardage totals, Kaepernick hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in seven of the 13 games, and only has 10 total with nine interceptions. Not coincidentally, the 49ers are the lowest scoring team in the NFL over this time period, averaging 14.38 points per game. They've been held to seven points or less in six of the 13 games overall and four of eight this season. This isn't just a rough stretch, this is an all-time bad offense.

Obviously, when things are going this poorly, the quarterback isn't the only problem. The offensive line is a mess, especially on the interior, and 49ers seem to be getting out-coached more often than not. So to say Kaepernick is the only problem would be an irresponsible statement. Still, he's a major player in all of this.

What will be interesting to see when Blaine Gabbert finally gets his opportunity, is if he can move the offense with more consistency than Kaepernick has been able to. Gabbert is far from the savior here, and won't be more than a stop gap option as the 49ers play out their remaining string of games. He's 5-22 career as a starter, and has a completion percentage of 53.2 percent. But this is the player general manager Trent Baalke chose to run with, even though there were multiple questions about whether or not Kaepernick was the long term answer.

In a lot of ways, this is a sad tale. To think where Kaepernick was just a year-and-a-half ago versus where he is now is startling. It goes to show that all the talent in the world doesn't mean anything, if you can't mentally handle the in and outs of being an NFL quarterback. This won't be the end of Kaepernick in the league, as he'll at least get a shot to compete to be a starter somewhere, but his days with the 49ers are, for all intents and purposes, over.

Al Sacco has covered the 49ers for various sites over the years. He's been a guest on multiple podcasts and had his work used by ESPN NFL Insiders and USA TODAY. Follow Al on Twitter @AlSacco49