By: Jason “Big J” Allen
When you soar so high it’s only a matter of time until, before you crash back to earth. Some call it regression to the mean, others will say this is what you are (especially in Seattle). I think the world is trying to figure out what the heck is wrong with Colin Kaepernick, myself included. Trent Dilfer came out and had a fair assessment of Kaepernick’s struggles, even last year when Kaepernick ruled the world I had my hesitations and gave reasons why. So now the Niners are sitting at 6-4 and everyone can see the offense is the problem, more importantly the guy pulling the trigger looks less than stellar. This is not a “How to Fix“ segment rather a statement that going forward Kaepernick will get back to form and what hindered him in the beginning of the season.
1. Jim Harbaugh- How can I blame the struggles on the coach that made him? It’s easy or it being easy and simple is the problem. Last year Harbaugh simplified the offense for Kaepernick, he actually used a lot of schemes from Kaepernick’s college years, especially the Pistol. Thus the huge success of Kaepernick last year. This year Harbaugh is forcing Kaepernick to run the Power Run West Coast offense. You can see how uncomfortable Kaeprnick looks every week, most will tell you it takes about two years to learn the West Coast offense, and by the second half of the second year the QB starts to grasp it. When Dilfer commented he is correct, you take away the first read you can see that Kaepernick is not sure where to go, that explained why he destroyed Green Bay week one, they never took away the 1st option (Boldin and some plays Davis). Why this will change: Slowly you can see Kaepernick getting used to the offense and making quick decisions. Last week out of his 17 completions 7 went to players not named Anquin Boldin or Vernon Davis. This is good because when you can throw to your non stars that is usually a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th read. Which brings me to my next point.
2. WR Core and Trust- We have heard all year about not having the weapons on the outside, but it is less about not having the weapons, more about the trust in the weapons. Right now the 49er’s boost a 4.8 drop percentage, which lands them at 16th in the league. That wouldn’t be to bad except for the fact that the 49ers throw the least amount of passes in the league. So out of the 25 attempts a game for Kaepernick 1 to 2 passes will be dropped (especially that huge one that Frank Gore dropped in New Orleans last week, forget the sack fumble being turned over, that drop cost us more in my opinion because that was controllable.). Kaepernick usually completes 14 passes a game, add 1 or 2 more completions a game and the number may look a little better, but usually those drops come from the Vance “I’m not as good as Delonte Walker” McDonald, and the Bruce Miller’s of the WR core, so he loses trust and the WR’s are not looking for the ball. Why that will change: Yes easy to say that Crabtree returning will help that, but going further (that’s what we do here) Crabtree’s return will allow Mario Manningham to get into the slot more, where he is more effective. Also this will change because as Kaepernick gets more accustom to the West Coast offense, these 3rd, and 4th options will be expecting the ball more.
3. Jim Harbaugh- Not him again, but yes HIM again. I have noticed this the first 2 years Harbaugh has been the coach of the 49ers, Harbaugh hides his tricks until the playoffs and the big moments present themselves. Every year around this time the offense gets very predictable and stagnant, as if Jim Harbaugh gives his opponents enough tape and then heading into the final 2 weeks of the season and playoffs explodes and shocks teams. Why this will change: Typically about this time in the season the 49ers have a better record and have a firm grip on the NFC West, but this year not so much. Which means Harbaugh may have to pull out the big plays a little earlier than normal, and what better way to silence the World then on Monday Night Football versus a terrible Washington Defense.
4. Colin Kaepernick: He has done and said a lot in the media to make him a target, The Miami Dolphin hat incident, the Twitter for motivation comments, and the mass amount of commercials, magazine covers, and etc. Reminds me of the Randall Cunningham fever pitch, and how people started to feel like Cunningham only cared about his popularity not his on field success. We all know that Kaepernick is a workaholic and everyone will vouch for that, but his image is not that, thus the fans taking shots at him. Kaepernick has to make sure these struggles don’t kill his confidence. If he needs to kiss some biceps in the mirror every morning to reassure himself do it. A broken confidence at this point in his career could make him… Alex Smith part 2! Why this will change: Because of everything I just mentioned, he will turn it around, only thing is when he turns it around he needs to be humble and out of the limelight. At least win one Super Bowl and you can cash in.
5. Colin Kaepernick: This is what he does, look at his college career. His freshman year he exploded on the scene 53%comp, 19tds 3ints, and 2100 yards passing, but he didn’t start until the 5th game of the season, because the starter got injured (sound familiar). His sophomore year the number look better, but he played a full season, 54%comp, 22tds 7ints, and 2800yds passing. Junior year 58%comp, 20tds 6ints, and 2000 yards passing. Then his senior year 64%comp, 21tds 8ints, and 3000yds passing. Why this will change: Look at the numbers, he redshirted his first year in college and the NFL. Eventually took over for an injured starter and the rest is college and eventual NFL history. With that being said 49er faithful expect another average year next year and then we will get to the good life in his 4th year in the league.
Kaepernick will be alright and we just have to give a young guy time, because everything in him shows that he can be a great QB, maybe not the best of all time Jaws, but at least great. He will help with the 49ers quest for 6, 7, 8, and….