Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The time has come to pull the plug on Colin Kaepernick

Al Sacco
Nov 2, 2015 at 8:59 AM19

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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
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.


  • No Balls
    I totally agree with T. Cox below. Jed York needs to grow some balls and can Baalke. Baalke's had his chance and failed measurably. His "value" draft selections and rehab projects have not panned out. His philosophy of drafting players with injuries that may be ready to play the next year(depending on the type of injury it may take 2 years) has failed. The future is now. Because of free agency, injuries and retirements, players drafted must be ready to step in contribute immediately. C'mon York dump Baalke and hire a better GM. You won't have to look to hard to find one.
    Nov 11, 2015 at 8:35 PM
  • Bilal
    Kaep gets 100% of the blame for a lack accuracy and football IQ. The coaches get a lion share of blame for not making adjustments such as blocking assignments/ max protections and personnel. Kaep should have been benched during the hawks game.
    Nov 5, 2015 at 6:10 AM
  • mooseman
    Sad, FO did this to him. Has all the tools and is a hard worker.He was our savior 2 years ago now this. My sources say they will keep him and rebuild the team. They will draft a qb next year for insurance and with all the draft picks and cap room they will turn this around. He can redo his contract to make it a win win for the team. They like him. David shaw will be the coach next year. Kaep will return with a vengeance!
    Nov 3, 2015 at 8:59 PM
  • T.Cox
    This Downfall Starts at the Top! Jed York needs to Fire Trent Baalke, Hire a G.M. who has football Experience, Hire a Coach who can work with the New G.M., and then step away and let them do there jobs! This team needs to be blown up! Re-build time through the draft and Free agency, This is going to take some time now, so Just do it Jed! Niner fans deserve way more than this crap!
    Nov 3, 2015 at 12:25 PM
  • Niner
    Holmgren as coach and GM. Problem solved
    Nov 3, 2015 at 7:21 AM
  • Kellrazor
    Change the name Collin Kaepernick with the name Trent Balke, and I'll actually read this story.
    Nov 2, 2015 at 7:11 PM
  • PJC83
    I did a rundown of every NFL team to see which ones might be willing to give Kaepernick a chance as a starter. The only teams I saw that would give him a real chance are Buffalo (Greg Roman is the OC there now, and while EJ Manuel and Tyrod Taylor are similar players they don't have Kaepernick's experience), and maybe Washington, Philly and the Jets. Going into last year I would have argued at least half the teams in the NFL would love to have him, but a lot of teams have since drafted younger, cheaper and more promising alternatives.
    Nov 2, 2015 at 6:34 PM
  • Jay Kay
    I hope they they let Colin go. Let him succeed elsewhere with a O Line that is not pathetic. Eagles? Our future is with Gabbert? Baalke thinking our O LIne didn't need help this year is a firing offense, not including getting into a battle with Harbaugh. Baalke needs to go.
    Nov 2, 2015 at 3:28 PM
  • Montewarden
    The draft is a lottery. Raiders did well over the past 2 years. The real reason that the Raiders are on the way back is that they figured out the back office shit and put it behind them 49ers are deep in that hole
    Nov 2, 2015 at 2:53 PM
  • Dallas Niner fan
    Jed York should be ashamed and embarrassed for putting this crap on the field. I feel sorry for season ticket holders.
    Nov 2, 2015 at 1:26 PM
  • danol
    As this author has said, it is his football IQ that is lacking. When Montana first came into the league he was dealing with a similarly weak OL, especially on his blind side (LT), but was able to negate that by understanding what the defense was doing and turning it around. Kaepernick has NEVER demonstrated that. After that first season when he had success running his old college offense, the league adjusted and he has never approached that same performance level on a consistent basis again. Perhaps sitting him for a few games might help but I don't think so. He just does not have QB instincts.
    Nov 2, 2015 at 1:11 PM
  • T
    On the saftey - the Defensive player threw the center - Martin - around like he was a rag doll. Kap probably is looking at which one of his worthless OL are going to wiff their block and he will get crushed. No excuse for Kap to miss the wide open WR Smith before the play strted. If you are going to start dismissing people for not doing theri job - start with Balke - then Tomsula - then Kap
    Nov 2, 2015 at 11:48 AM
  • Niner
    Not possible. Baalke wants another of his infamous 6 rounders which he hordes, for Kap. I guess he can't draft well in the upper rounds so he hopes a shogun approach later might work out. The bigger problem all 49er fans worry about, is the draft. Baalke is a joke, take away the players already here, he has what Hyde and Reid. Everyone knows Reid was harbaughs guy, he recruited him for Stanford. Hyde is hurt but at least he's not already hurt like the rest of baalkes miserable picks. You want tomsula and baalke to pick our next qb??? Ask Alex about that! Instead of a qb guru like harbaugh mooch, gase, holmgren Walsh etc... Who get probowlers in later rounds ( Montana, farve, Brady, Bree's, etc...) they will waste it on yet another we flop or even worse ruin the carrier of a good qb with the worse coaching in the league . I've only been through the dark days of the moribito brothers, joe Thomas, Donahue , Nolan and sing, if York co ti use this idiocy, this decade will be the worst of them all!
    Nov 2, 2015 at 11:29 AM
  • 49erIdaho
    York...Baalke...Coaches (all of them)...Kaep. Enough said. There is no future with those guys. York needs to eat his words and hire a GM that will rebuild. A GM that knows football. Hire another coach that knows football, football IQ, and football fundamentals. I watch these games and I don't cheer...I don't boo...I watch because it reminds me of Erickson, Nolan, Singeltary days. We have made the NFC West look weak again.
    Nov 2, 2015 at 11:23 AM
  • James
    I stood by and defended Kaep and tried to stay positive when everyone said he was a bust. I just can't stand and defend him anymore with out going insane. Though the fault doesn't lay solely at his feet for the Niners being this bad. The blame can be spread to the coaches and the big dog up top Jed YORK!
    Nov 2, 2015 at 11:02 AM
  • mbiner
    I've been one to give Kaep a lot of slack, given the woeful OL and RB situation. But the two major misreads (Torrey Smith and a wide open Patton in the end zone) were the last straw. He is a physical marvel and an extremely intelligent young man. Unfortunately, that intelligence doesn't translate to Football IQ, as you pointed out. Can he ever be an NFL QB? I don't know. He can certainly flourish with an outstanding team around him, but so can nearly every other QB in the league. It is in the teams best interest and his own that he sits and lets Gabbert have his chance. Sad to see our team lose so many great players and sink to the bottom so quickly.
    Nov 2, 2015 at 10:42 AM
  • Bill Burchfield
    If he had a offensive line he just might be able to scan and read the defense. Let him be the Q B he was the first years.
    Nov 2, 2015 at 10:03 AM
  • JedediahYork
    If I didn't ask to have my forum account closed, I'd probably be calling for some homers to eat their crow. Kap is non-functional, even with time in the pocket. You can argue all you want about the OL being bad, but the OL has nothing to do with this guy not even attempting to read a defense. He was carried by the best defense in the NFL and a decent OL, but now he's asked to carry the team as a franchise QB and he just doesn't cut it. I hate to say, "I told you so," but some of us saw this coming a mile away. Too bad the Kap fans on this site aren't 49ers fans.
    Nov 2, 2015 at 9:47 AM
  • Tony baca
    It's about time
    Nov 2, 2015 at 9:38 AM

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