1) Kaepernick: Another solid but unspectacular day. Defenses definitely have adjusted to his deep passing and he is in the process of adjusting to that coverage. They are actually doing him a BIG favor BTW. The coverage adjustment forces him to learn and thats EXACTLY what you want. One thing to take note of tho...these teams he's played against aren't cream puffs. The Saints aren't a good D, but that was a LOUD Superdome. The Bears, the Rams, and the Dolphins all have strong D's with a good pass rush. He's stood in there with all of those teams. These games in New England and Seattle while very important are also FANTASTIC chances for Kaep to see the type of environments he might see in the playoffs. He is getting battle tested. Outside of the pick against the Saints that I think was more a result of a bad snap that forced him to take his eyes off the D (still a mistake by Kaep tho), he hasn't made any "OMG, what a rookie throw" type passes. When he drops back and lets a deep pass fly, I now expect good things to happen. That pass to Moss was on the money. When Alex made those throws, I expected the ball to be 5-10 years beyond the WR (and I say that as a guy who has defended Alex on these boards for years). He does need to work on his clock management. No doubt. That is where his youth is appearant. I'm sure that will be point of emphasis for Harbaugh. Finally, I was watching the 49ers postgame show on Comcast Bay Area after the game and was reading all of the Tweets from people who were calling for Kaeps head. Seriously? These peeps are watching a different game than I am. The struggles the Niners had in this game were in protection and penalties, not QB play. Kaep can't block Cameron Wake. One of those sacks was an unblocked Wake and MAYBE there was an issue in the protection call (I have no idea), but Kaep wasn't the issue here.
2) Aldon: We are now into the territory of HISTORIC play. Shattered Reggie Whites first 2 year record and still has 3 games to play. Within striking distance of Michael Strahans single season record. Broke the 49er rookie sack record last year and now broke the 49er team sack record this year. He nearly broke the NFL rookie sack record last year. He's got 33.5 sacks in his career and he's only 23 freakin years old. He isn't yet the player he WILL be. This is just nuts. That sack in the second quarter is gonna create nightmares for LTs all over the league. He's done it more than once now. It's not enough just to stay in front of him now because he can go THOUGH you.
3) Frank: I love this guy. I really hope we can get him a ring before he's done. Pure effort and instinct.
4) LaMichael: Nice little debut. I knew this was going to be different than the preseason when he looked like he was shot out of a cannon on the opening kickoff. He looks MUCH more decisive and maybe my eyes are decieving me but he actually looked BIGGER than in the preseason. That may just be my imagination tho. All of the sudden, the loss of Hunter doesn't seem so crippling. He also looks like he may be able to do something that Frank and Kendall haven't been doing....and that's take one the distance. He can break one long at any time. It is a small sample size, but I came away impressed.
5) Culliver: This guy might be a star in the making. As it is he may be the best #3 CB in the league. Hell, he may be better than the #1 and #2 CBs on his own team. The nature of the NFL these days makes it so that your #3 CB plays almost as often as the other 2, so having 3 of them is HUGE.
6) Crabtree: Week after week proving that he is becoming the player we all hoped he would be when he was drafted.
7) Jenkins: He had no catches, but I just wanted to point this out...HE WAS OPEN. I don't want to hear about a waste of a pick after this game. HE WAS OPEN DEEP. The reason he didn't get the ball was because Kaep was sacked. This was pointed out via Twitter by the Matts during the game.
8) Penalties: It's killing us. I dunno what's going on but the penalties have just gone crazy over the last 3 or 4 weeks. Constant 1st and 20s will kill drives.
9) Pass Protection: To be fair, the Bears, Rams, and Dolphins are all pretty damn good up front on D. Lets not forget that, but you can't have a QB who is adept at throwing the deep pass constantly getting sacked, rushed, or flushed out everytime you want to throw something deep. This needs to be resolved.
10) Stretch Run: If the Niners can just get 2 of these next 3 games thay will most likely with the West and a 1st round bye (GB could catch them, but they'd have to win out). That means we need on of these games in New England and Seattle. Both will be rough, but neither team is unbeatable. Outside of the Giants game, the Niners seem to always play up to the competition. They play well under the big lights against the good teams. Moreover, as I mentioned before, these are fantastic games for Kaep to get under his belt in preparation for January. As Harbaugh likes to say "as iron sharpens iron". These games will challenge Kaep and make him a better player when the games are for all the marbles. I for one can't wait.