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49ers Downfall Tied to Colin Kaepernick

Dec 22, 2014 at 11:11 AM

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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.

Not good.

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.

Not good.

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.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • Marty
    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.
    Dec 26, 2014 at 5:32 PM
  • Mike
    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.
    Dec 24, 2014 at 8:06 PM
  • Kareem
    It is impossible for the 9ers to end with a worse record than 2010.
    Dec 24, 2014 at 4:13 PM
  • justjoe579
    So are they goin to start from scratch again? It was sad to see.
    Dec 24, 2014 at 7:33 AM
  • Nick
    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".
    Dec 24, 2014 at 4:46 AM
  • Roxanne
    There is no "I" in TEAM. Last time I checked the NFL was a team effort.
    Dec 23, 2014 at 10:38 PM
  • Phil
    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.
    Dec 23, 2014 at 8:00 PM
  • rjpbobp
    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. thanx
    Dec 23, 2014 at 3:23 PM
    Response: Thank you
  • LeahB
    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
    Dec 23, 2014 at 3:17 PM
  • Deborah
    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.
    Dec 23, 2014 at 1:16 PM
    Response: Analysis often comes after the fact. It's not my fault Kaepernick has played at the same level as a rookie the last 5 weeks.
  • Craig
    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?
    Dec 23, 2014 at 1:02 PM
    Response: The opportunity for Kaepernick to start would not have presented itself if Smith wasn't injured.
  • Deborah
    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.
    Dec 23, 2014 at 11:56 AM
    Response: You're comparing Colin Kaepernick to John Elway?!
  • Niner
    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.
    Dec 23, 2014 at 9:12 AM
  • Kezar-Bred
    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!"
    Dec 23, 2014 at 8:58 AM
    Response: Great comment
  • Jerry
    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.
    Dec 23, 2014 at 7:56 AM
  • tai09
    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
    Dec 22, 2014 at 11:58 PM
    Response: Thanks for reading and commenting.
  • Finn MacNiall
    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.
    Dec 22, 2014 at 11:19 PM
  • Casey
    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.
    Dec 22, 2014 at 10:55 PM
  • Craig
    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!!!
    Dec 22, 2014 at 10:13 PM
    Response: Smith's injury opened the door for Harbaugh to make the switch.
  • C.J.
    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
    Dec 22, 2014 at 9:33 PM
    Response: "Kap's biggest strength is running in the open field, but he was rarely called upon to do so" This is an incorrect statement. In fact, Kaepernick has actually been called upon for more designed runs through 15 games this season (33) than he did in the full 16 games last season (30). The reason it seems like he is running less is because his level of success has dropped. After averaging 9.5 yards per carry on designed runs in his breakout 2012 season, Kaepernick has averaged only 4.5 ypc and 3.8 ypc on those runs in 2013 and 2014. In short, defenses are no longer surprised by the read option and have started forcing Kaepernick to try to beat them with his arm.
  • PhilM
    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?
    Dec 22, 2014 at 9:31 PM
  • Jerry
    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?
    Dec 22, 2014 at 8:56 PM
  • me
    you don't know Jack
    Dec 22, 2014 at 8:34 PM
    Response: Good one. Thanks for reading and commenting.
  • Jersey9er
    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...
    Dec 22, 2014 at 8:21 PM
    Response: They don't answer you because they can't. It sure doesn't look like they've taken anything out to me. Perhaps it was just some coachspeak.
  • claude balls
    Jack: Uh-oh, you've offended the fan boys. Watch your back.
    Dec 22, 2014 at 8:12 PM
  • AK
    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.
    Dec 22, 2014 at 8:04 PM
  • Paulie Vegas
    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.
    Dec 22, 2014 at 7:59 PM
    Response: I don't hate Kaepernick. He's just played very, very poorly over the last 9 weeks. Especially the last 5. Going into week 12 the 49ers were tied with Seattle at 6-4. Since that time Kaepernick has put up a passer rating of 68.8 and gone 1-4, while Seattle's QB has put up a passer rating of 106.2 and gone 5-0.
  • Paulie Vegas
    LOL, cute comment. Actually I don't own a #7 jersey, but thanks for asking. Speaking of #7 much did you pay to burn yours?
    Dec 22, 2014 at 7:50 PM
    Response: I've never purchased a player jersey. What does it say about a grown man who pays to wear a fake jersey of another grown man?
  • RJ
    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?
    Dec 22, 2014 at 7:19 PM
    Response: Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment.
  • Archie
    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.
    Dec 22, 2014 at 6:39 PM

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