Monday, November 12, 2012

Time For Kaepernick?

In the 49ers 24-24 tie to the St Louis Rams, some questions were answered and others were raised.  Seeing his first extended action in a regular season game, Colin Kaepernick led the team back from a 7 point deficit to take a 4th quarter lead, then on a game tying drive, and put them in position for a field goal to win the game in overtime.

Until Sunday Kaepernick was a relative unknown.  Sure he had been successful on the few chances he was given to come onto the field early in the season, but without extended playing time in a regular season game his ability would remain a question mark.

Kaepernick's performance showed the ups and downs of playing a young, inexperienced QB.  Through the 2nd and 3rd quarters he completed only 2 of 7 attempts for 14 yards, (the 49ers ran only 4 offensive plays in the 3rd quarter).

Kaepernick came alive in the 4th quarter and OT, hitting on 8 of 10 attempts for 100 yards.  He was most impressive at the end of the game, manufacturing a nice 8 play 63 yard drive, leading to a David Akers field goal to tie the game and send it to overtime.  On that drive Kaepernick accounted for all but 9 of those 63 yards as he completed 3 of 4 passes for 25 yards, and scrambled 3 times for another 29 yards.

During the overtime period Kaepernick completed an 11 yard pass to Michael Crabtree on the only pass call during their first possession.  After Hunter and Gore picked up a first down with runs of 6 and 4 yards, Kaepernick took a called bootleg run around right end for 14 yards, setting the offense up at the 25 yard line.  After 3 Gore runs netted 2 yards to the 23, Akers pushed the game winning field goal attempt wide left.

On the second possession Kaepernick was forced to scramble for 2 yards on first down, and was then sacked on 3rd and 7 from the Rams 49.

After the game I was asked to give my assessment of Kaepernick's performance and if I think he is ready to take over.

While watching it from the limited vantage point my TV provides, it was easy to see that he struggled in the 2nd quarter.  The key issue that I was noticing was how he seemed to be looking at the pass rush and not keeping his eyes downfield.  This led to him missing a wide open Kyle Williams for what should have been an easy touchdown throw.

The best thing that could happen for Kaepernick and Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman was halftime.  It allowed them to get together, regroup and put a plan into place for the 2nd half.  After the break Kaepernick looked like the QB who torched San Diego during the final preseason game.  He made plays with both his arm and feet.  He showed a good ability to extend plays, his 13 yard completion to Kyle Williams on the game tying drive being a perfect example of this.

Overall I would give Kaepernick a solid B for his performance yesterday.  He did enough to put the team in position to win, and come back from 7 point and 3 point deficits.

Do I think that he is ready to take over as the starter?  While I am of the opinion that Kaepernick is on his way to taking over the reins, I am not quite ready to do so just yet.  That answer would change though if he gets the opportunity to start on Monday night against Chicago, plays well and they win.

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