Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports


An Honest Statistical Evaluation of Colin Kaepernick

Anwar Jamison
Jan 23, 2017 at 8:08 AM



When Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee suggested that Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan may want to keep Colin Kaepernick around if he becomes the San Francisco 49ers' next head coach, the response was predictable. It was split between those who are in favor or at least would be willing to take a wait and see approach, and then those who spit out their morning coffee, drove their cars off the side of the road or fell out of their chairs backward onto the floor. Ok, so maybe I'm just imagining those reactions, but there are obviously those who very clearly think that would be a grave mistake: and they are passionate about it.

After all, Colin Kaepernick is a very polarizing figure, and was, to a lesser extent, even before his national anthem protest. What's strange to me, though, is that Kaepernick seems to be the only quarterback in the NFL who gets evaluated by the media and fans completely devoid of any statistical analysis. When it comes to Kaepernick, let's not bring stats into it.

When presented with Kaepernick statistics, many people simply shrug them off with such jewels as, "forget that, he's still garbage," or "bro, leave it alone and just face the facts, he can't read a defense," or "he throws every ball 100 miles per hour." Adjectives such as trash, terrible, horrible, or my favorite "the worst quarterback in the league," litter every single comment section where a Kaepernick article appears.

Just scroll down to the comment section of the very article you're reading now and watch as the area fills up with people calling me a Krapernick lover, homer, blind, idiot and other names for simply suggesting that we actually look at his statistical body of work to evaluate him. How dare I suggest that?

Why do people cling to statistics when discussing other quarterbacks, but reject them when discussing Kaepernick? I could sit here and guess, but I won't. What I will offer is some statistical facts to the conversation: not my opinion about whether or not he can read a defense (as if I was sitting in the 49ers offensive meeting room knowing what he was supposed to read) but simply just facts. Of course, this is not every single statistical category that could be measured, but those that are generally associated with measuring proficient quarterback play. By the way, there are no rushing statistics here, only passing. Everyone knows what his legs bring to the table already.

1) Kaepernick ranks second in Lowest Pass Interception % in NFL History at 1.8%. Aaron Rodgers ranks first with a percentage of 1.5%.

2) Kaepernick ranks #17 all-time in Career Passer Rating at 88.9 just ahead of (18) Carson Palmer, (19) Derek Carr, (20) Daunte Culpepper, (21) Jeff Garcia, (22) Andrew Luck and (23) Matthew Stafford.

3) Kaepernick has the 5th highest Touchdown to Interception ratio in NFL history at 2.40 to 1, which is just ahead of (6) Steve Young, (7) Peyton Manning, (8) Tony Romo, (9) Drew Brees and (10) Matt Ryan.

4) Kaepernick's 2016 Touchdown to Interception ratio was 4 to 1. He threw 16 touchdowns and 4 interceptions while starting 11 games. Alex Smith, the quarterback Kaepernick is most compared to, for obvious reasons, threw fewer touchdowns and more interceptions than Kaepernick (15 touchdowns and 8 interceptions) while starting all 16 games. This was accomplished while throwing to the worst receiving corps in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus.

5) Kaepernick has a career completion % of 59.8. That percentage is low, but coincidentally, it is the exact same completion percentage posted by Cam Newton in his MVP season of 2015. This would suggest that even though you would obviously want this number to increase, it does not preclude a quarterback from having a successful season with a good team around him, as evidenced by Newton's MVP, 15-1 regular season and conference championship in 2015.

I don't know what the 49ers incoming general manager and head coach will decide to do. What I do know is that Kaepernick, assuming he doesn't opt out of his contract, has one-year left on the deal at a reasonable salary for a starting NFL quarterback. If the new brain trust are looking for a veteran quarterback to serve as a bridge to the quarterback of the future, or simply for a one-year test drive to see how he would respond in Shanahan's offense, then the quarterback that is already signed to the team might be a pretty good option, and not some horrible doomsday scenario as many would like you to believe. At least that's what the statistics suggest.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


35 Comments

  • TK
    Kaepernick's supporting cast also had 24 drops on the season. https://www.sportingcharts.com/nfl/stats/drops/2016/customize/
    Jan 27, 2017 at 9:46 AM
    0
  • Doyle
    All I've got to say say is wins an losses his stats are horrible in that area.
    Jan 27, 2017 at 3:16 AM
    2
  • HStreet
    The foremost criterion for a good quater back is PASSING ACCURACY - not a strong arm. Kaepernick has never developed this skill. Haven't you all been watching all these years? His passing was terrible at Nevada and has not improved after all this time in SF. Kap's inaccuracy has been exposed and teams load the box to stop the run. Stop wasting time with Kap and move on to develop a better passing NFL QB.
    Jan 25, 2017 at 11:59 PM
    1
  • Canyo
    Colin is labeled black because for most of the history of this country if you had any trace of African American in your blood line you were labeled black. African Americans did not create this practice. This countries founding fathers (bigoted caucasian males) did. i don't understand why people still act like this is new information and that some of these racists are still not out there. They just talk tough over the internet now because they fear getting punched in the mouth for calling someone a Ni#@er to their face.
    Jan 25, 2017 at 12:46 PM
    2
  • Dave Staines
    Colin Kaepernick is no starter in the NFL. He played well under Harbaugh, That is it. He won one game this season. Few the season before, Lets not forget his back to back INT's for TD against Arizona. The man can run. That is it. That does not make a QB. Statistically, there are many arguments that can be made, but the win loss record, does not lie.
    Jan 24, 2017 at 7:58 PM
    3
  • lydell d
    mann great read...theses people dont know what a gd quarter back is...they just be talking out the side of there necks...but he is a winner an he shows it, to not have half the line or recivers any other team has, he makes it work..he will be good next yr... an those who dont like it go watch another team then.....#FAITHFUL..
    Jan 24, 2017 at 7:48 PM
    10
  • Kimberly correthers
    How hypocritical are people in the dominant society to talk about Kaepernick "white mother"when they are the ones who wrote the 1 drop rule and when he took his stand he was call n**ger in every way possible! And people who say he can't read defenses well he was reading defenses when he was winning NFC CHAMPIONSHIPS AND GOING TO THE SUPER BOWL.
    Jan 24, 2017 at 7:43 PM
    8
  • Harriet Klein
    Why is he always labeled BLACK quarterback? Did somebody forget his mother is WHITE? Just like the first black president Obama, somebody again forgot his mother is white, and that these two were in their white mom as womb for quite some time. The womb was white
    Jan 24, 2017 at 3:56 PM
    1
  • Kimberly Correthers
    The accusation that Kaepernick can't read defenses and is only a "athlete" quarterback is deeply rooted in racism when it comes to black quarterbacks.. You never heard them say a white quarterback can't read read defenses. Kaepernick is a PROVEN winner when you put talent around him and the proof 3 NFC Championships and Super Bowl 47! Now Kaepernick is as good or better than half the quarterbacks in the NFL.. Here a list of quarterbacks playing in the NFL with big contracts but never won anything Brook Osweiler, Trevor Siemens, Andy Dalton, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Kirk Cousins, Brian Hoyer Ryan Fitzpatrick etc.. . So the fact that Colin Kaepernick dare to challenge the system of racism white supremacy will be the only reason that his NFL career will come to and end! The Good News is Kap is fine with that because he refused to sell his soul to the white masters of the NFL...
    Jan 24, 2017 at 2:48 PM
    7
  • DaMan
    Bottom line is he can't WIN he can't read the defense he can't throw an accurate ball consistently he doesn't go through his progressions in the pocket and during this past offseason goin into the 2016 season he focused on a political / social stance than a football one. We need someone focused, smart, tuff, determined, a person who can be a leader and unite this team along with their fans and show everyone he can take this team to the next level
    Jan 24, 2017 at 11:46 AM
    6
  • EZ
    The only reason to keep a veteran QB when drafting a QB of the future is to have that veteran impart his knowledge on the younger player. Does anyone seriously want Kaepernick grooming the next 49er QB???
    Jan 24, 2017 at 9:31 AM
    4
  • Duane
    More like "A biased statistical evaluation of Colin Kaepernick"
    Jan 24, 2017 at 8:07 AM
    6
  • Mike Cortese
    Let give Kap another chance. If we draft a QB in this year, we will be sitting through a bad season at least for the next three years. Lets face it, he had no star receivers to throw to and a poor offensive line. Lets hope that Shanahan wants to work with Kap and gets him up to the level that he was when we were going to the playoffs. More importantly lets PLEASE pick up some free agent receivers that are playmakers, not left overs.
    Jan 24, 2017 at 7:36 AM
    8
  • vermonator
    I don't think the WCO would suit Kaepernick at all. There's a lot of short to intermediate passes which require accuracy and the ability to take what the offense gives you. He's shown no evidence that he can handle those types of situations. IMHO, we've already seen the best of Kaepernick, and I doubt he's going to get much better at age 29, no matter who the head coach is.
    Jan 24, 2017 at 6:14 AM
    5
  • James
    Look back to what he did under Harbaugh. Back then he was considered an up and coming QB. Explosive Running QB behind one of the better O-Lines in the League. Now he is featured on a torn team with low morale, little to no support by the fans and a sub-par receiving corp. If Shanahan comes onboard and believes in Kap... and Kap is coachable still... that combination could be dangerously optimistic. He is not a magician, he is a smart offensive mind though... look at his father and what he did for the niners back in the day. I believe our new management have one hell of a job to do here but two years could pick up the pieces around here. FIRST we need a leader to rise on the offense...KAP! all those who oppose should be let go or put on ice. A team without QB leadership is bunk. SECOND that O-Line needs immediate help either they make a top ten pick in Free Agency (Terron Armstead, LT from NO or Ryan Schraeder, RT from ATL or Kevin Zeitler, G from CIN or David DeCastro, RG from PIT) or get top talent in the 2017 Draft. THIRD add best talent available in free agency perhaps LeVeon Bell or Alshon Jeffery. This approach puts a proven winner on the field with our team and spark improvem
    Jan 24, 2017 at 5:11 AM
    10
  • Unnamed source
    Reasonable salary at $15 million that could escalate to $19 million, no thanks. And no, $15 million is not reasonable for a QB that is inconsistent, has baggage and struggles with fundamentals of the QB position. Get this scrub the hell outta SF ASAP!!!
    Jan 24, 2017 at 12:09 AM
    8
  • brian
    ...I guess I'll oblige you are a fool, and your love for KAEP disgusts little orphan children all over the world. But seriously, if they want to change the culture then they are going to change the qb
    Jan 23, 2017 at 11:52 PM
    2
  • The Truth
    Truthi Betoldi ยท Works at Facebook I think it's time to cut ties Kaep. Give him and the 9ers a fresh start apart from each other. While Kaep can on ocassions make that eye popping play, his overall performance has been very inconsistent. Sometimes stats like career Passer rating is very misleading. In the top 15 ahead of Kaep are guys like Chad Pennington and Matt Shaub while ranked below Kaep are guys like Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Roger Stauback, Brett Favre, Troy Aikman and many other great Hall of Famers. I don't think a single person in their right minds would take Colin over any of the ones ranked behind him. Stats are MISLEADING. Also Kap statistical sample is no where near large enough to gauge his performance of late once NFL defenses discovered his weaknesses. The reason why stats can sometimes be misleading is precisely because of misleading ones like the one this author Anwar posted. The majority of the success he had were games for the first season or so and after NFL defensive coordinators had enough evaluation tape on Colin, they discovered his strengths and weaknesses. After that, Kaep's numbers the past 3 seasons have been very poor. Look up 2014 to 2016 stats.
    Jan 23, 2017 at 8:02 PM
    8
  • Phillyniner
    three of the stats you use to defend him are the same stat...that you have to reach like that is pretty indicative.
    Jan 23, 2017 at 7:58 PM
    3
  • Arty
    The hood professor? Plz...Arent you the one who wrote that the nation was wrong and that the 49ers actually have alot of talent on the roster? You wrote that and the 49ers went on to be historically bad...Everybody needs to go on this team, there should be not one guaranteed spot ...Your stats are junk anybody can see he cant read a defense.
    Jan 23, 2017 at 7:29 PM
    3
  • AJ Dembroski
    I'm not a Keapernick fan... But I am a Shannahan fan, and if he thinks he can win with Kaepernick, I'm all for giving him another season or two. I'm a big proponent of having an offensive line and weapons in place before you go get your QB in the draft anyways, plus this draft is weak at the position. I'm 100% cool with another year of seeing if the guy can get consistent. It's not BS at all to site these numbers. He had a good year considering the horrible talent around him. He took us to a Superbowl and an NFC Championship game before he had some issues. Shannahan can get the most out of him, and it'll be interesting to watch.
    Jan 23, 2017 at 7:00 PM
    10
  • SomePostersonHereareLegendsInTheirOwnMin
    People who love him will say one thing. People who hate him will say other things. He's been successful and he has played like crap at times. I still think there is something there to work with for a year or two, while another qb is developed. I'd take him over a guy who couldn't beat Duke and NC State, Jay Cutler, and Mr. Glass himself Brian Hoyer.
    Jan 23, 2017 at 6:49 PM
    3
  • 49erfan
    This is what is classically known as cherry picking.
    Jan 23, 2017 at 2:28 PM
    4
  • MICHAEL
    ABOUT TIME SOMEONE REALLY LOOK AT THE FACTS, NO QUARTERBACK EVEN JOE MONTANA COULD HAVE DONE BETTER WITH THIS TEAM. IMAGINE GIVING CAP A TRUE NUMBER ONE RECEIVER, THREATS AT TE, A SOLID LINE, AND A GOOD DEFENSE? FOOTBALL IS THE ULTIMATE TEAM GAME AND NO ONE SHOULD BE JUDGED WIT THE WR CORP WE HAVE. WE NEED SOME WEAPONS, GIVE HIM A TEAM AND A FAIR SHOT BUT ALSO DRAFT HIGH A YOUNG QB......LETS GO!!!
    Jan 23, 2017 at 12:18 PM
    12
  • don
    Kaepernick is a polarizing guy in so many ways. His protest divided the fans. Like it or not fan support is critical to the success of a player and a team. Everyone has the right to peacefully protest but to take that protest inside the confines of a football stadium is the wrong place to exercise your fifth amendment right. If he continues with the protest he must be cut. If he takes his protest out of the stadium then Kyle can take an objective look at his skill set and decide whether he is someone he would like to consider. This all subject to whether Kap exercises his right to opt out or not.
    Jan 23, 2017 at 11:46 AM
    5
  • TERRY
    KEEP IN MIND KAEPERNICK HAS NEVER PLAYED UNDER EXPERT TUTELAGE LIKE SHANAHAN JUST LOOK AT WHAT HE'S DONE FOR MATT RYAN SO I'M NOT SURE IF HE WANTS KAP BUT IF WASHINGTON HASN'T LOCKED UP KIRK COUSINS WHY ARE SO MANY ENAMORED WITH HIM KAP HAS PLAYED WELL ENOUGH TO LEAD HIS TEAM TO THE SUPERBOWL WITH THE RIGHT TALENT AROUND HIM THAT'S A FACT
    Jan 23, 2017 at 11:44 AM
    8
  • Sdaddy101269
    People say stats are misleading then go on to ask for stats. 3-1 road playoff record, 4-2 overall. How's that stat? TEAMS win games and players make plays when given the opportunity. Kaep has shown himself to be a play maker.
    Jan 23, 2017 at 11:41 AM
    13
  • Chad
    I will be so glad when Kap is gone and these articles will stop being written. New coach, new GM, new QB. Go Niners
    Jan 23, 2017 at 11:18 AM
    11
  • Christopher
    These are simple statistics, but they are misleading. It's not a truemail statistical analysis, and therefore isn't exactly "honest". Biggest counter to these "statistics" is sample size. He hasn't nearly thrown as many passes as the quarterbacks he's being compared to. These also aren't the most important stats like first downs, third down conversions, completions under pressure and win loss
    Jan 23, 2017 at 10:44 AM
    14
  • Eddd
    That's why only nerds worship statistics, because they can be manipulated to produce any outcome. How many games has Kaepernick won from behind? How many 4th quarter marches down the field to win a game? How many clutch throws when absolutely necessary? How many times has his leadership inspired hie teammates? Your statistics, when scrutinized, mean squat. Sorry, just keeping it real.
    Jan 23, 2017 at 10:41 AM
    14
  • Mr.Herb
    Taking a sack instead of attempting to throw into a tight window will do wonders for a QB's INT%.
    Jan 23, 2017 at 10:41 AM
    12
  • GrantRodgers
    Kap's stats are inflated due to the conservative, low-risk, low-reward offense the Niners run. Kap doesn't take risks downfield and when he does, he's inaccurate. This shrinks his normal field of play, allowing defenses to have to cover less ground to get to the ball. His saving grace had been his threat as a runner. But his inability to throw the ball downfield on a consistent basis, minimizes that threat. You can't be a consistent championship contender without the ability to throw the ball downfield. Just take a look at the QBs who've won the last 10 super bowls (Broncos are an anomaly).
    Jan 23, 2017 at 10:09 AM
    9
  • HStreet
    The problem with Kaepernick is that he has never been and never will be an accurate passer. That alone is the most glaring problem. Adding better receivers will always be beneficial but if the passes are too high,too low or behind it does not matter. Too often Kap locks on one receiver and is unable to see the whole field and find the open receiver. He also brings a lot of baggage with him. Time to move on.
    Jan 23, 2017 at 9:39 AM
    16
  • Jedediahyork
    Trashernick.
    Jan 23, 2017 at 9:08 AM
    9
  • Jamison
    Great article, facts don't lie!
    Jan 23, 2017 at 8:29 AM
    13

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