After reviewing the offensive performance from the first half of the Colts game from the coaches film, I have one takeaway. We need to stop blaming the poor performance of the passing game on the wide receivers, who did struggle on a few plays, and take a much harder look at the play of Colin Kaepernick. Let's take a look at his 12 first half pass plays.
Pass Play 1 - Kaepernick has Kyle Williams wide open on a quick 5 yard hitch, but he throws the ball behind him and into the ground. This should be a simple throw. Incomplete.
Pass Play 2 - After play action, Kaepernick has Boldin wide open in the flat on a quick pin route, (receiver steps in then spins back out), and he hits him in stride 7 yards downfield. 14 yard completion.
Pass Play 3 - Quick 3 step route, has McDonald open in the flat, but the ball is tipped at the line of scrimmage. Incomplete.
Pass Play 4 - Quick 3 step drop, Kaepernick looks left, everything is covered, escapes right for 14 yards and a first down.
Pass Play 5 - Quick 3 step drop, Kaepernick is looking right, where Celek is running a quick out, and Williams is to be running a slant. Although Celek is open, Williams has been jammed at the line of scrimmage taking the throw away. Kapernick scrambles to his right, running out of bounds for a loss of 1 instead of throwing it away.
Pass Play 6 - Shotgun, Kaepernick is looking left, and get flushed that way from the pocket. He has Williams wide open in the flat for a first down, but throws a bullet behind Williams, who gets his hands on it but cannot bring it in. A little touch on the pass would have made it much easier for the receiver to bring in the off target throw. Incomplete.
*End of 1st Quarter*
Pass Play 7 - Shotgun, Kaepernick has Boldin and Williams to the right. Both are jammed at the line of scrimmage. Boldin goes inside but is taken away by the inside linebacker. On the outside Williams recovers from the jam, and is wide open on a skinny post. The offensive line has given Kaepernick a clean pocket to work from, but after seeing the initial jam, he pulls the ball down and breaks down in the pocket, scrambling for a gain of 5. Had Kaepernick stayed poised in the pocket this could have been a big gain for the 49ers and got them out of the shadow of their own goal line.
Pass Play 8 - Shotgun, Kaepernick has Patton open on a quick seam route. Kaepernick's pass is a little high and gets to Patton almost simultaneously with Colts safety Delano Howell who forces an incompletion. Better ball placement was needed on this one, but both share responsibility. Incomplete.
Pass Play 9 - Pistol, Colts do a good job of covering the receivers downfield, but leave Frank Gore uncovered over the middle. Kaepernick tries to escape the pocket on his own, and ends up with a 2 yard gain. A simple flip to Gore would have resulted in a nice gain.
Pass Play 10 - Shotgun, Out of a bunch formation, Boldin runs a quick Texas route and Kaepernick hits him with a quick pass for 24 yards.
Pass Play 11 - Against man coverage Boldin and McDonald run seam routes from right to left, and Garrett Celek runs a drag route from left to right. Kaepernick misses the wide open Celek underneath, instead throwing to Boldin who is well covered. Incomplete.
Pass Play 12 - On this play, Boldin and Moore line up wide right with Williams to the left. Boldin runs a wheel route, Moore a short in route, and Williams an out route. At the snap Kapernick looks right and finds Boldin covered, he next comes left where Williams is covered on the out, the pocket is still clean and Kaepernick misses Moore wide open over the middle for a first down, instead breaking down in the pocket and spinning around and creating pressure. He eventually throws the ball to Frank Gore who has become open but it falls incomplete.
*End of 2nd Quarter*
By my count, 10 of the 12 pass plays called in the first half ended up with either an incompletion, scramble or sack. On 7 1/2 of those 10 unsuccessful pass plays I put the responsibility on Kaepernick, and the other 2 1/2 of those 10 on the receivers. The 1/2 comes from poor pass/drop on the Patton throw.
The trouble with the 49ers passing game right now is that the quarterback is showing extremely poor pocket presence, and breaking the play down as soon as he sees contact outside. Until he can get that straightened out, and stick with the play to give his receivers time, expect teams to continue pressing at the line of scrimmage. Right now they know exactly what they need to do to break him down.