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Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports


Kaepernick Continues Promising Play Against League’s Top-Ranked Defense

Anwar Jamison
Nov 14, 2016 at 8:12 AM


As head coach Chip Kelly accurately pointed out after the 49ers 23-20 loss, "They aren't handing out participation trophies in the National Football League." Still, it was hard not to feel good about the performance of the 49ers on the road against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

In this article, I originally wrote that the Cardinals boast the league's number 2 overall defense, as well as the #2 defense against the pass. Actually, going into the game, the Cardinals were the league's top-ranked defense. The 49ers actually bumped them down to number 2 after yesterday's game. The struggles of the 49ers' running backs was a clear indicator of how formidable the Cardinals' defense is. Carlos Hyde finished with 14 yards on 13 carries, and backup DuJuan Harris equaled that total on 5 carries. Time after time, Arizona's front seven swallowed up the real estate near the line of scrimmage making it impossible to gain yardage on the ground. The Niners' defense, for its part, played arguably its best game since the opening week win against the Los Angeles Rams, holding dynamic Cardinals running back David Johnson to 55 yards rushing after allowing seven consecutive 100-yard rushers.

Kaepernick returned to the scene of the worst game of his career, exorcised a few demons, and nearly helped his team walk away victorious. Last season's 4-interception performance has been well-documented, frequently analyzed and consistently cited as evidence of Kaepernick's inability to play the quarterback position at a high level. If Kaepernick's career turns into a story of redemption, whether with the 49ers or elsewhere, we may have witnessed the beginning of it these past couple of weeks.

Kaepernick's numbers were not gaudy. He completed 17 of 30 attempts for 210 yards, with 1 touchdown, and no interceptions. There were several drops by 49ers receivers factored into those numbers as well. Against an Arizona Cardinals team that gives up 195.2 yards on average to opposing quarterbacks, Kaepernick was efficient. In the previous two games, Arizona held Russell Wilson to 225 yards on 37 attempts and held Cam Newton to 212 yards. Kaepernick's performance against the Cardinals was comparable to the two quarterbacks he was most compared to before his decline.

RELATED Recap: Cardinals' game-winning drive lifts them past struggling 49ers 23-20

More than the numbers, the more impressive part of Kaepernick's day was the fact that he often made plays when they needed to be made. The 49ers converted 7 of 17 third downs, good for 41%. Converting at that clip over the entire season would be good for number 12 in the league. Again, that's not great, but it's a vast improvement. The 49ers currently rank number 25 in 3rd down conversion percentage.

Kaepernick made a number of impressive throws and kept the ball out of dangerous spots when he didn't have an open receiver. On his touchdown pass to Jeremy Kerley in the second quarter, he did a good job of keeping his eyes down the field when he was flushed from the pocket, rather than trying to take off and run. Kerley finished with 7 receptions for 71 yards. He also found tight end Vance McDonald four times for 50 yards. He did a good job of hitting McDonald in stride allowing him to accumulate yards after the catch.

When the Niners were backed up to their own 5-yard line facing 3rd and 19, after a 4-yard loss by Hyde, and a false start penalty on right guard Joshua Garnett, it seemed likely that Kelly might run a safe play just to get out of the shadow of the end zone for a Bradley Pinion punt. Instead, Kaepernick delivered a strike to Torrey Smith on the sideline for 21 yards and a first down. That drive resulted in a field goal.

Early in the third quarter, Kaepernick also displayed good touch on the deep ball to Quinton Patton for 45 yards. The pass dropped just over the outstretched hands of cornerback Justin Bethel and set up another Phil Dawson field goal.

He capped his day off with the game-tying 4-yard touchdown run around the right end with 1:55 left in the game, before watching from the sidelines as Arizona drove down the field for the game-winning field goal. Overall, his day was not perfect, but it was an impressive performance in which he displayed more consistent poise and accuracy than we've seen from him in a while.
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.


10 Comments

  • Nick
    Wow givemeabreak ... that you are defending Kap and actually comparing his stats to Gabbert proves you are clueless to the current state of this team you obviously were not a fan of this team when Young and Montana were QBs of this franchise... if you were you should be disgusted with Kap and the entire team instead of calling out other fans that actually understand what's happening with the once proud franchise ... get a life !
    Nov 25, 2016 at 9:36 AM
    4
  • givemeabreak
    Its nice that webzone gives the ability to post without a facebook account. Gives the trolls a voice.. "defender" below posts.... "Gabbert played just as well against the Cards earlier this season. Now, you can argue he had home field advantage, but nevertheless their stat lines are pretty similar and with the same talent around them." Gabbert played just as well as kaepernick against the same team earlier in the year? Ummmm... NO. No he didn't. 18 of 31 for 180 yards, 1 TD, 2 Interceptions, and getting sacked 7 times for a 56 QB rating is not better you dufus. Kaepernick had at least three drops on perfectly placed balls in the second half. On top of that he beats gabbert in EVERY statistical catagory worth a crap. In fact it was THAT game that made the 9ers decide to switch to Kaepernick. He lost his starting job on that day. These A holes like you and AZ niner fan who will never give credit to kaepernick regardless just need to stfu and go sit in the corner and stew on your own ignorance and hate. So sick of this crap.
    Nov 17, 2016 at 2:11 PM
    1
  • Az 49er Fan
    Set the bar low enough and anyone can win a gold medal. Still stares down receivers, throws hard flat passes and accuracy problematic. Let 'hairball' go.
    Nov 17, 2016 at 7:07 AM
    4
  • robert ethan
    Over the past two seasons, Gabbert is 4-9, Kap 2-10, quarterbacking same team.
    Nov 16, 2016 at 9:32 PM
    4
  • DAREN
    I GUESS NO ONE REMEBERS ALEX SMITH 8 YEAR RUN WITH US HE WAS EITHER HURT OR GOD AWFUL UNTIL HE WAS SHOWN HOW TO THROW THE BALL OH AN BUILT AN OFFENSE AROUND HIM FOR KEAP AN WE WENT TO 3 NFC CHAMPIONSHIPS AND A SUPERBOWL THE PROBLEM THE WAY I SEE IT THEIR FINALLY TAKING THE GLOWS OFF KEAP NOW IF THE DEFENSE COULD STOP SOMEBODY WE MIGHT HAVE WON A COUPLE OF THESE GAMES ITS TRUE WE DONT HAVE AN HIGH POWER OFFENSE BUT WHEN YOUR DEFENSE GIVES UP 555 RUSHING YARDS IN 2 GAMES AND OVER A 1000 YARDS IN 7 GAME ITS YOUR DEFENSE OFFENSE SOME DEFENSE A LOT
    Nov 15, 2016 at 12:30 PM
    0
  • defender
    Gabbert played just as well against the Cards earlier this season. Now, you can argue he had home field advantage, but nevertheless their stat lines are pretty similar and with the same talent around them.
    Nov 15, 2016 at 10:46 AM
    0
  • Solidg2000
    Take off the rose colored glasses. 6 for 16 in the 2nd half. That brings his season total to 38% for the season (up from 37%). Stop trying to spin this, he wasn't horrible. If not for the defense stepping up huge, we would of lost by 20 points.
    Nov 15, 2016 at 6:48 AM
    1
  • Jack
    The problem is Kaepernick has no help. Carlos can't stay healthy, everyone talking Dat Prescott, he has the best running back in the league, pro-bowl receiver, pro-bowl tight-end, when Kaepernick went to the Super Bowl, and the playoffs he had these types of help. We would not be talking about Dallas if Dat Prescott didn't have these. If the 49ers keep Chip and Kaepernick, and build around, they'll return to the playoffs. Even Aaron Rogers didn't look good when he didn't have a running game. Why can't anyone see this?
    Nov 14, 2016 at 7:48 PM
    4
  • DON
    He played well. Only real negative is that under pressure he was 2-7 with a 41.6 QB rating..
    Nov 14, 2016 at 7:12 PM
    0
  • Dallas Niner Fan
    The problem with Kap is he cannot win ball games. He has not had a win yet this season. Pathetic.
    Nov 14, 2016 at 9:19 AM
    2

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