Nobody should doubt Colin Kaepernick’s ability to throw the ball anymore.
A quick peek at the stat line shows us most of what we need to know: 412 yards, three touchdowns, two sacks and zero interceptions.
A fantastic set of numbers, in all honesty. The young quarterback didn’t start out the game with his best stuff though.
On the first drive: Incompletion, incompletion, QB run short of the first down for a three and out when no receivers were open.
Certainly, not the start we were hoping to see from the first home opener for a man heading one of the most talented rosters put together by and NFL team this year. Anyone hoping for a statement first possession probably groaned after this drive, but shortly after that, Colin Kaepernick would find Anquan Boldin. This went on to be a recurring theme during this game, and probably will for the entirety of the season.
Kaepernick spent most of this game either in the pocket, or flushed out of it, and for good reason. Green Bay spent a good chunk of this most recent offseason planning to counter the read-option, not just to face-off against San Francisco, but also the multiple other teams gravitating towards its use. They had to do this also, because there’s a very good chance Green Bay and San Francisco will see each other in the playoffs just like they did last year when they were absolutely torched by Kaepernick’s legs.
To their credit, the Packers did a fantastic job preventing the read-option, and the run game as a whole. The only snag was that this left them open to quite a bit of throwing, which as it turns out, is another thing Kaepernick is good at. Clearly this is how you start a successful season if you’re San Francisco. You quiet your rivals and doubters.
But there were still bonehead penalties. One was a delay of game penalty by the offense sure to frustrate fans happened in the second quarter. I know it frustrated me. Kaepernick has a lot to do pre-snap, and the complex shifts the Niners do on offense have to occur before he can call for the snap, but there needs to be that internal ticking clock in his head to beat these mistakes.
Putting these little things aside, after just one game against a playoff favorite from last year, and likely this year, the ceiling looks awfully high for Colin Kaepernick. With the addition of Boldin it certainly seems like Colin and his receivers are going to show up, if this game is any indicator. ‘
Clearly, with the 49ers this year, if you prevent one thing, they’re just going to move on to another, and if you prevent that, they’ll just find something else to beat you with. An interesting change from last year, when they dared you to stop the run, and just kept running over and around you.
Colin Kaepernick loves to play football. In his post-game press conference, he spent it smiling and making sure reporters and everyone watching knew that other teams needed to do more than stop the read-option or run game, to stop his team. They’d just spent the entire game treated to that fact.
What the stat line doesn’t tell you is that Kaepernick consistently made good reads and good progressions. Sure, he locked on to receivers a few times, but usually only when he trusted them to get open; see Davis, Vernon and Boldin, Anquan.
He escaped the pocket to extend plays as ususal, and generally let his favorite targets play themselves open. What the stat line also might tell you, but doesn’t explicitly say, is that he made good decisions.
Okay, sure, 12 incompletions and no interceptions tells you that, but if Alex Smith had thrown the game and ended up with these stats, we would have assumed that far more of the yards were gotten after the catch. With Kaepernick, seven of his passes went over 20 yards in the air. Chunk yards like that can turn the emotional tide in a game faster than anything outside of an interception, especially when they just keep happening. When Green Bay decided to double cover Boldin, all the Niners had to do was find the open target, usually Vernon Davis. Which they did again and again.
What it also doesn’t tell you is that when Clay Matthews tackled him out of bounds, Kaepernick never really got in anyone’s face. In fact, he made a determined effort to pull his teammate Joe Staley out of Matthew’s face and then went back into the mass of bodies to go after Boldin and center Jonathan Goodwin in an effort to line everyone back up to continue the game.
Kaepernick’s a competitor, clearly, and wants to use his play to make his argument for him. This doesn’t sound like an player prone to making bad choices, this sounds like a seasoned veteran. This bodes very well for the 49ers players and fans, and games like the one against Green Bay last Sunday, certainly answer most, if not all of our questions about Kaepernick’s ability to throw the football.