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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports


PFF grades Colin Kaepernick as the 2nd worst passer in the NFL

Nov 8, 2016 at 8:10 AM


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Colin Kaepernick may have had his best game of the season on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. The San Francisco 49ers quarterback ended the game with 398 passing yards, his most since passing for 412 on September 8, 2013, against the Green Bay Packers. He had two touchdowns, an interception, and would finish with a 102.3 passer rating.

However, advanced statistics site Pro Football Focus warns that the stats were deceiving. "He earned a 42.0 overall grade on the day, with most of his stats padded by long runs after the catch and a 31-yard jet sweep 'pass' to WR Quinton Patton," said a representative with the site.

Kaepernick was just 3 of 10 for 108 yards on throws of 10 yards or more downfield. "Despite a very strong statistical game, Kaepernick still struggled to be a consistent passer and once again faded in the second half," says our own Al Sacco. "He was 10-for-21 in the third and fourth quarters and was inaccurate on many of his throws. I'm not sure why it matters at this point anyway, as Kaepernick is basically just auditioning for other teams as his days in San Francisco are all but numbered."

Kaepernick has started just three games for the 49ers this season, still two less than Blaine Gabbert who won the starting quarterback job to start the season. So his body of work this season isn't yet comparable, especially considering the large gap between his first start this year and his last start last year. Throw in the fact that he was recovering from multiple offseason surgeries and you could argue, just as head coach Chip Kelly has tried to do, that he needs more time before judgment can be passed.

Regardless, when strictly looking at his performances as a passer this season, Pro Football Focus ranks Kaepernick as the second worst quarterback in the league. He is 32nd out of 33 graded quarterbacks, which is just one spot ahead of Blaine Gabbert, who ranks last. Kaepernick's grade as a passer is just 0.1 points above Gabbert. He is ranked slightly higher overall at 30th out of 33. Gabbert is ranked last (33rd) overall. That means that the 49ers have the two worst graded passers in the NFL on their roster – both of which have started for the team this season.

The reason for the slight bump in Kaepernick's overall grade is because he ranks so high as a runner. He has the third highest grade as a rusher among all quarterbacks, slightly behind only Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers and Tyrod Taylor of the Buffalo Bills. However, Kaepernick has about half the amount of run snaps as either of the two ranked above him. His 42.1 overall grade this season is the worst of his career – even lower than last season when it could be argued that he had a much worse offensive line in front of him.

"We didn't have him in the Springtime," head coach Chip Kelly said on KNBR on Monday morning. "Had him in preseason camp and then he missed a few weeks there. Really, we've dealt with him consistently for the last four weeks because that's when he became the starter and got the more reps. And that's what we'll continue to work on, but I've seen improvement from him from the first start to this game and we'll continue to look for improvement from him."

Kaepernick still has two games to raise his grade and improve before he gets close to matching Gabbert's 329 total snaps. So a fair assessment or comparison can wait until then. But the fact that he threw for nearly 400 yards and still graded so low is not a good sign for the quarterback, who will likely not be on the roster next season. In fact, with Kaepernick able to void his contract after the season, which he is expected to do, and the other two quarterbacks on the roster being free agents, the 49ers will likely be starting over at the most important position on the team.
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