While San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick will probably never admit himself, it is hard to argue that he has taken a significant step back in his play from last season.
While Kaepernick has taken approximately the same number of passes this season as he did in the regular season last year, his statistics has dropped in every major category. His completion percentage has dropped from 62.4-percent to 56.4-percent, his yards per pass has dropped from 8.3 to 7.6, and his touchdowns have dropped from 10 to nine. Meanwhile, he has thrown twice as many interceptions this season with six, and he has been sacked 21 times. He also hasn’t been the running threat he was during the 49ers Super Bowl run.
You cannot understate the impact of the loss of go-to wide receiver Michael Crabtree to Kaepernick and the 49ers passing game. Still, it wouldn’t be surprising if this drop in production has left the young quarterback’s confidence a little shaken. According to ESPN analyst Merril Hoge, this is exactly what has happened.
On ESPN’s NFL Matchup, Hoge showed tape of Kaepernick appearing hesitant, even though it should have been an easy decision. On one such play from Sunday’s loss against the Panthers, Kaepernick dropped back and looked in the direction of a open Vance McDonald. But instead of pulling the trigger, Kaepernick held onto the ball, and was sacked by Panthers safety Mike Mitchell.
Hoge had the following to say about the play:
That is a completion. The ball should be out. A confident player makes that throw. Colin Kaepernick does not. He holds onto the ball. He’s uncertain. He’s unsure.
Fellow ESPN analyst Ron “Jaws” Jaworski, who thought Kaepernick could become one of the best quarterbacks ever before the season started, agreed with Hoge’s assessment, but also believes Kaepernick will get better once his receivers are healthy.
“His receivers, as I look at the tape, are not doing a good job getting open,” Jaws said. “They’re going to need to get Mario Manningham healthy and flying down the field, and you’re going to need to get Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis back healthy.”
While he has been doing enough for a great 49ers team to get by, San Francisco better hope that healthy receivers are all Kaepernick needs to get his groove back. Because right now, Kaepernick’s play isn’t going to get the 49ers back to the Super Bowl, and he is certainly not playing like one of the best quarterbacks ever.