Disappointing loss for the 49ers against NFC contender on the road. The 49ers had their chances but with poor performance on offense and with some controversial calls from the refs couldn’t come away with a victory against the Saints. Kaepernick did play better compared to Carolina game a week ago but in order to win against better competition the 49ers will have to improve in the passing game and that starts with quarterback. The 49ers started the game with three and ended with two 3-and-out series. They had 12 drives and scored only 20 points.
1st drive: Own 20, 15:00 left in the 1st qrt, score tied 0-0
The 49ers started the game with Kaepernick’s pass intended for M. Manningham. The pass was well defended and the ball fell incomplete. F. Gore got only 1 yard on second down and Kaepernick hit V. Davis on 3rd down for only 5 yards. First 3-and-out for SF offense.
2nd drive: Own 31, 10:46 left in the 1st qrt, score tied 0-0
The second drive started with F. Gore run for 0 yards. Kaepernick completed a pass to F. Gore for 6 yards on second down, but his 3rd down pass was tipped. Second 3-and-out for the 49ers.
3rd drive: Own 42, 7:55 left in the 1st qrt, score tied 0-0
San Francisco’s 3rd possession ended quickly again. Kaepernick couldn’t connect with A. Boldin on 1st down play. On 2nd down he was hit as he threw a pass intended for A. Boldin again, the ball sailed short and on 3rd down it was a pass to J. Baldwin which was incomplete. The 49ers were forced to punt.
4th drive: Own 20, 0:44 left in the 1st qrt, SF down 7-0
The 49ers got their first 1st down in the beginning of 2nd qrt. Kaepernick hit A. Boldin for 6 yards on 3rd down play. Three run plays gave the 49ers another 1st down. But then the drive ended on 3rd-and-2 play, it was L. James who was stopped for no gain from pistol formation. 4th drive and 4th punt for the 49ers.
5th drive: Opp 11, 10:26 left in the 2nd qrt, SF down 7-0
Thanks to special teams the offense got the ball back deep in the Saints territory. From NO 11 yard line Kaepernick found open J. Baldwin who couldn’t hold on to the ball as he fell down in the endzone. On 2nd down Kaepernick looked for his favorite WR, he hit Boldin with a quick pass for a touchdown.
6th drive: Own 27, 9:22 left in the 2nd qrt, score tied 7-7
K. Hunter run for -3 yards and a delay of game penalty made it 2nd-and-18. Kaepernick completed 2 short passes to V. McDonald and M. Manningham just enough for a first down. Later on, after F. Gore lost 1 yard, Kaepernick threw a pass intended for M. Manningham, the pass was intercepted but C. White fumbled the ball out of the endzone.
7th drive: Own 20, 6:25 left in the 2nd qrt, score tied 7-7
The last play of 6th drive resulted in a touchback which gave the 49ers the ball back on own 20 yard line. Kaepernick was sacked on first play, but defensive pass interference penalty put the ball on NO 45 yard line. F. Gore got 3 and Kaepernick another 5 yards on a scramble. That set up a 3rd-and-2 pass play. Kaepernick threw a short pass to V. McDonald who couldn’t catch the ball. P. Dawson’s 55-yard field goal attempt was good.
8th drive: Own 20, 1:58 left in the 2nd qrt, SF down 14-10
With less than 2 minutes remaining in the half the 49ers tried to get to at least field goal range. Kaepernick completed 2 short passes, one to L. James and the other to A. Boldin for another set of downs. His next pass to A. Boldin was way off-target and could have easily been intercepted. On 2nd down Saints pressured Kaepernick who couldn’t avoid a sack. Facing 3rd-and-12 the 49ers decided to run down the clock with a run play.
9th drive: Opp 22, 12:07 left in the 3rd qrt, SF down 14-10
SF defense was playing great all day. A. Brooks intercepted Brees and the 49ers had the ball on NO 22 yard line. F. Gore ran for 11 yards on 1st down but K. Hunter lost 6 on the next play. What followed was a well designed and well executed play. Kaepernick looked as he was going to run with the ball to his right, he then stopped and found V. Davis in the endzone for a touchdown.
10th drive: Own 40, 4:43 left in the 3rd qrt, SF up 17-14
The 49ers started the drive on own 40 yard line but it turned out to be their longest drive of the game. Kaepernick converted three 3rd down plays but was stopped on another 3rd down play. It was 3rd-and-9 when he tried to complete a pass to V. Davis who was held on the play but no flags were thrown. A play earlier Kaepernick missed a chance to hit open M. Manningham for a possible 1st down and was eventually forced to throw the ball away. The drive ended with a FG.
11th drive: Own 20, 7:50 left in the 4th qrt, SF up 20-17
Up by 3 late in the game, the 49ers missed a chance to put the game away. Kaepernick was forced to leave the pocket and managed to lob a pass to a wide open F. Gore. The ball was a bit underthrown but certainly catchable. It was missed opportunity to gain a lot of yards and move well into Saints territory. Instead the 49ers faced 3rd-and-9, Kaepernick was under pressure again and threw a pass WR J. Baldwin never expected. The 49ers had to punt.
12th drive: Own 20, 2:06 left in the 4th qrt, score tied 20-20
Another missed opportunity, with a game tied at 20-20 the 49ers went 3-and-out again and left enough time for the Saints to drive into field goal range. Kaepernick was sacked on first play of the drive and lost 9 yards. His second pass was intentionally thrown away as he was pressured again. On third down he left the pocket before the pressure got to him gained 16 yards on the scramble, 3 yards short of a first down.
Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers had 56 offensive plays and scored 1.7 points per drive. Kaepernick turned the ball over once when his pass intended for WR M. Manningham was intercepted. He now has 11 touchdowns and 11 turnovers for the season.
Kaepernick was under center on exactly 50% of all offensive snaps. Similar to Week 10 game against Carolina, the 49ers were in the shotgun against the Saints a lot. Again, with weak passing attack, the pistol offense hasn’t really been working for the 49ers lately, that’s why it wasn’t used as much as it was in the last season’s playoffs.
Out of 56 offensive plays 37 (66.1%) were designed pass plays: 31 pass attempts, 3 scrambles and 3 plays resulted in a sack.
In the last 2 games against CAR and NO, Kaepernick completed less than 60% of his passes and he passed for only 218 yards combined. Of course there’s a lot more to it than just passing yards, but those are some alarming numbers. Kaepernick will have to do better passing the ball and exploit opposing defenses through the air, especially when they put 8 or even 9 men in the box to defend the power running game.
More advanced figures also show that the 49ers again had hard time passing the ball when they needed to. Following worst performance of his career against Carolina (2.2 Yards per Pass Play), Kaepernick didn’t do a whole lot better against the Saints with 3.8 YPP and a 8.1% sack rate.
Kaepernick completed 6 of 11 3rd down pass attempts for 50 yards.
Here’s a breakdown of all Kaepernick’s 3rd down plays:
Colin Kaepernick was pressured on 10 (27.0%) of his total drop backs and again failed to complete a pass under duress. He attempted 5 passes when under pressure with 0 completions and was sacked 3 times. The other 2 pressure plays were scrambles.
Kaepernick attempted 31 (2nd highest this season, only behind Week 1 vs Green Bay) and completed 17 passes, 1 of his passes was intercepted. Here’s breakdown of his 13 incompletions. For the second week in a row, 40% of his incompletions were dropped passes.
For the third time this season Colin Kaepernick didn’t run on a designed run play. He did scramble 3 times for 25 yards, his last scramble for 16 yards was a scramble not forced by opponents’ pressure.
The game will be remembered by controversial penalty on A. Brooks who put a vicious hit on Saints’ quarterback, which was, at least in my opinion, legal hit. Had it been called that way it would probably be the reason why SF won the game, but the way it was called it certainly wasn’t the reason why SF lost the game. For the second week in a row SF defense did its part of the job, but unfortunately the 49ers continue to struggle on offense. When their power running game is taken away, the 49ers can’t find ways to move the ball through the air. The 49ers missed too many opportunities before and after the controversial play and need to improve on lots of things. They need to learn to operate much quicker on offense, get faster to the line of scrimmage and get plays in faster and not waste time-outs the way they did on Sunday against the Saints. And then there’s already mentioned non-existent passing attack. The Saints dared the 49ers to pass the ball, constantly stacking the box to commit against the run, but the 49ers could not get anything going through the air. V. Davis and A. Boldin continue to be the only reliable targets for C. Kaepernick who didn’t show that he can play with the kind of confidence he played last season.
Next for the 49ers is a game against the Washington Redskins in a Monday Night Football matchup. The Redskins are 3-7 but could present problems for San Francisco if the 49ers won’t find ways to attack Redskins’ 24th pass defense (according to Football Outsiders).