2013 NFL Playoff picks – Super Bowl XLVIII

It was another perfect week (2-0) for me on Championship game playoff picks. That’s 9-1 overall on playoff picks and there’s only 1 game left to predict, Super Bowl XLVIII. Since 1990, NFC champions are 13-10 (0.565) in the Super Bowl and 23-20 (0.535) since the 1970 merger. Here’s my pick for this year’s Super Bowl:

SuperBowl



2013 Colin Kaepernick – Championship game review

The 49ers’ season ended with a loss against Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship game. San Francisco seemed to have the game under control for the most part, but three fourth quarter turnovers committed by Colin Kaepernick were the reason that the 49ers won’t be back in the Super Bowl.
The 49ers had a total of 10 drives (the drive at the end of the first half with one kneel down play not included) and scored 17 points on offense, 2 TDs and 1 FG.

1st drive: Opp 15, 14:50 left in the 1st qrt, score tied 0-0
The 49ers received a gift from their defense, A. Smith sacked R. Wilson, forced and recovered a fumble on SEA 15-yard line. F. Gore got two yards on the ground on the first play. Kaepernick then connected with M. Crabtree for just two yards. Kaepernick ran on designed QB draw run for four yards, two yards short of first down. The 49ers were forced to kick a FG.

2nd drive: Own 19, 10:40 left in the 1st qrt, SF up 3-0
The 49ers opened their second drive with another F. Gore run, Gore gained only a yard on the play. Kaepernick was under pressure on the next play, but was able to complete a pass to TE V. McDonald for 13 yards. Kaepernick ran for 17 yards on the next designed run, but F. Gore lost a yard on read-option play. Kaepernick scrambled and gained eight yards to set up 3rd-and-3 from SEA 43. With another QB draw play Kaepernick got two yards and was just short of first down. False start penalty on V. Davis made it 4th-and-6 instead of 4th-and-1 and the 49ers had to punt.

3rd drive: Own 14, 14:49 left in the 2nd qrt, SF up 3-0
A. Boldin dropped a pass on first play of this drive. Facing 3rd-and-9 Kaepernick looked for M. Crabtree who was held on the play, defensive holding called on CB Sherman made it 1st-and-10. The 49ers focused on ground game the rest of the way on this drive. On the only two dropbacks Kaepernick had to scramble and got 12 and 58 yards. With 58-yard scramble Kaepernick moved the offense all the way to the SEA 10-yard line. Gore ran for two and seven yards. The 49ers were facing 3rd-and-1 from SEA 1. RB A. Dixon was stopped on first try, but on 4th-and-1 he leaped over the defense to score a touchdown.

4th drive: Own 20, 5:47 left in the 2nd qrt, SF up 10-3
Kaepernick’s pass to A. Boldin was again a dropped pass. On second down Kaepernick ran on read-option run and lost two yards. On 3rd-and-12 Kaepernick completed a short pass to Q. Patton for just two yards, the first 3-and-out for the 49ers.

5th drive: Own 21, 15:00 left in the 3rd qrt, SF up 10-3
F. Gore lost one yard on the first play of the second half. Kaepernick then completed back-to-back passes to Boldin and Crabtree for six and 12 yards. His next pass intended for M. Crabtree was overthrown and incomplete. On second down Gore almost fumbled the ball and lost six yards. Next third down play ended with incomplete pass intended for F. Gore. The 49ers had to punt again.

6th drive: Own 17, 9:51 left in the 3rd qrt, score tied 10-10
After Gore and Hunter gained two and nine yards on the ground, Kaepernick threw a great pass to Crabtree for 22 yards. On the next play the 49ers gained another 22 yards, this time it was QB Kaepernick with bootleg run. The 49ers were lucky on the next play, Kaepernick was sacked and fumbled the ball, but J. Goodwin picked up the loose ball and ended up with two positive yards. Next was one of the best plays from Kaepernick all season, he was under pressure, but kept eyes down field looking for A. Boldin, his laser-like pass was perfect, just over defender and into the hands of A. Boldin for 26-yard TD.

7th drive: Own 20, 3:55 left in the 3rd qrt, SF up 17-13
F. Gore was stopped for no gain on the first play of this drive. Kaepernick then looked for A. Boldin who dropped another ball. On third down the Seahawks brought pressure and Kaepernick had no other choice, but to throw the ball away. Second 3-and-out for the 49ers. 

8th drive: Own 11, 13:44 left in the 4th qrt, SF down 20-17
Things started to fall apart for the 49ers’ who were down for the first time in this game. Kaepernick’s pass intended to A. Boldin was well defended and incomplete. He then complete his short pass to V. Davis for five yards. On 3rd-and-5 Kaepernick looked for Boldin again, the two connected for nine yards. Later on, Kaepernick scrambled for six yards. With 3rd-and-1 the 49ers were penalized for delay of game and instead of just one yard they had to gain six for another first down. Kaepernick was sacked for the second time on the play and lost fumble as he was trying to avoid the pressure.

9th drive: Own 15, 8:18 left in the 4th qrt, SF down 20-17
Things got even worst on 49ers’ next possession. Hunter started this drive with 11-yard run from the shotgun. Kaepernick made a bad decision and threw a pass to Boldin, the pass was late, thrown directly into the hands of S K. Chancellor.

10th drive: Own 22, 3:37 left in the 4th qrt, SF down 23-17
The 49ers went with RB James on the first play of this drive, he was stopped for no gain. Kaepernick and the 49ers moved the ball well and were in good position with enough time and two time-outs remaining. Facing 4th-and-2 Kaepernick found F. Gore for 17 yards. On 3rd-and-2 he connected with M. Crabtree for 16 yards followed by a completion to V. Davis for 11 yards which put the ball on SEA 18-yard line. Kaepernick slightly underthrew a deep pass on the next play with tight coverage from CB Sherman who made a great play, broke up a pass deep in the end zone which allowed LB M. Smith to come up with game-ending INT.

Drive stats
Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers had 53 offensive plays (kneel down play not included) in 10 drives and scored 1.7 points per drive. The 49ers lost the battle of field position this time as their average starting field position was own 24-yard line. Kaepernick connected with A. Boldin for one touchdown, but he turned the ball over three times (two interceptions, one lost fumble). Here are overall drive stats for the game against the Seahawks.

Championship-drive statsOffensive formations
On Sunday Kaepernick lined up under center on only 48.1%, he was in the shotgun a lot more than he was in the recent games (40.7%) and ran the offense from the pistol on just five plays or 9.3% of all offensive plays, four of them were run plays, one of those was Kaepernick’s read-option run for -2 yards.

Championship-formationsPass plays
Out of 53 offensive plays 29 were designed pass plays: 24 pass attempts, three scrambles and two play resulted in a sack.

Championship-passingKaepernick attempted only five passes in the first half of the NFC Championship game, he completed three of those for just 17 yards, but when the 49ers lost the lead in the beginning of the fourth quarter the 49ers had to pass more. In the last drive only, Kaepernick attempted seven passes and gained 56 passing yards, which is 36.6% of his total passing yards, but against the Seahawks he wasn’t as fortunate as he was in the first two playoffs games when his risky passes weren’t, but could have been intercepted. The 49ers’ last two drives ended with interceptions and that’s how their season ended. Kaepernick didn’t make enough plays through the air against the best pass defense in the NFL.

Championship-YPPBesides 24 pass attempts for 153 yards, Kaepernick also scrambled three times for 78 yards and was sacked twice, both times Kaepernick fumbled, on the first sack the offense recovered, but not on the second sack fumble. With his great scrambling ability Kaepernick finished with 7.8 yards per pass play which is much higher average compared to two regular season games the 49ers played against Seattle (4.9 in Week 2 & 5.0 in Week 14). Kaepernick was also more effective on 3rd/4th downs as he was in the regular season against the same opponent. He attempted eight passes and completed five of them for 56 yards.

Championship-3rd 4th downKaepernick also ran twice on designed run play on third downs and was sacked once.  Here’s a breakdown of all Kaepernick’s third down plays:

Championship-3rd4thD situationsUnder pressure

Championship-under pressureBased on my count, Colin Kaepernick was pressured on nine plays, that’s 31.0% of his total dropbacks and for the most part, he handled the pressure really well, escaping for big scramble runs and completing 3 of 5 pass attempts under pressure with one touchdown pass. Besides five pass attempts he also scrambled twice and was sacked two times. The other three scrambles weren’t the result of opponent’s pressure and at least one of those could be counted as a designed run play.

Incompletions
Kaepernick attempted 24 and completed 14 passes. He was intercepted twice which leaves him with eight incompletions. Here’s a breakdown of his incompletions:

Championship-incompletionsRun plays
Colin Kaepernick ran on seven designed run plays against Seattle for 53 yards (not counting the kneel down play), four QB draw plays, two bootleg runs and one read-option run. Kaepernick was even more successful when he scrambled, he gained 78 yards with his three scrambles.

Championship-rushingConclusion
Colin Kaepernick once again showed that he’s an athletic player with great ability to escape the pressure, extending the plays and turn scrambles into big plays. He also doesn’t get down after bad plays. On Sunday after his bad throw intended to A. Boldin which ended up being intercepted, he returned and completed similar pass to M. Crabtree. Where Kaepernick needs to improve is in scanning-the-field category in order to find his best options. Probably non bigger example than the last 49ers’ offensive play of this year’s NFC Championship game. Kaepernick decided, pre snap, where he wants to go with his pass based on defensive look, but Crabtree was well covered by CB Sherman. Kaepernick should have just checked down and throw a short pass to wide-open rookie WR Q. Patton who was in much better position.

last playBut the fact of the matter is that Kaepernick never looked his way.  It was first down play on SEA 18-yard line with plenty of time and two time-outs left and Kaepernick didn’t need to make that throw to Crabtree.
Colin Kaepernick was fortunate enough to get through the whole season without significant injury, something that can’t be said for many 49ers’ players. Some of them were injured on their last game of the season in the NFC Championship game so for them the main focus now has to be to get healthy and get ready to play for the 2014 season.

2013 NFL Playoff picks – Championship games

A perfect result (4-0) on my Divisional playoff picks means 7-1 for me so far on playoff picks.  Since 1990, home teams are 27-19 (0.587) in the title games and 1-3 (0.250) since 2011. Obviously, playing the Conference championship game at home isn’t big advantage, but I’m picking both home teams to win and set up the battle between two No.1 seeds in the Super Bowl, something that hasn’t happened since 2009 season.

ConferenceChampionships



2013 Colin Kaepernick – Divisional Playoffs review

The San Francisco 49ers advanced to third straight NFC Championship game with a win against Carolina Panthers. Just like in Wild Card playoff round, the 49ers missed opportunities to score touchdowns early in the game and had to settle for two field goals. Defense didn’t allow any points in the second half and the offense made enough plays to get another playoff win. As expected, Colin Kaepernick didn’t find success running with the ball against stout Carolina defense, but he did score rushing touchdown in the second half. The 49ers had a total of eight drives and scored 23 points on offense, 2 TDs and 3 FGs.

1st drive: Own 20, 15:00 left in the 1st qrt, score tied 0-0
The 49ers opened the game with F. Gore’s run for a loss of one yard. Kaepernick then completed a pass to M. Crabtree, but good only for one yard. Facing first 3rd-and-long Kaepernick found WR Q. Patton for 23 yards and a first down. Combination of runs and short passes put the 49ers on CAR 40. It was another third down situation, with six yards to go Kaepernick looked for A. Boldin but was off-target with his pass. Unnecessary roughness penalty on Carolina made it 1st-and-10 from CAR 25-yard line. Kaepernick didn’t find his passing rhythm early on and was again off-target when he looked for V. Davis, F. Gore got one yard and it was third down again. Kaepernick had no chance and had to take a sack and the 49ers had to settle for a FG.

2nd drive: Opp 46, 6:18 left in the 1st qrt, SF up 3-0
P. Willis intercepted Newton’s pass and the 49ers started the second drive inside Carolina’s territory. The Panthers committed two penalties which helped the 49ers to keep the drive alive. With the ball on CAR 20-yard line the 49ers tried a trick play, Kaepernick tossed the ball to A. Boldin who threw a pass intended to M. Crabtree, the pass was off-target. After another incompletion to Crabtree, this time pass from Kaepernick, the 49ers faced another third down. Kaepernick missed another throw and the 49ers had to settle for 2nd FG.

3rd drive: Own 1, 14:53 left in the 2nd qrt, SF up 6-0
Defense stopped the Panthers on fourth down from SF 1-yard line and the 49ers took over on offense in dangerous territory. With QB sneak Kaepernick got two yards on first down play. On second down Kaepernick had to throw the ball away with pressure from the Panthers. His third down pass intended for M. Crabtree was nearly intercepted. The 49ers had to punt for the 1st time.

4th drive: Own 20, 13:40 left in the 2nd qrt, SF down 7-6
Kaepernick connected with A. Boldin for 20 yards with the first play of the drive, but miscommunication with F. Gore was probably the reason he missed A. Boldin on the next play. Kaepernick was pressured on second and third down play, both plays resulted with incompletion and eventually the 49ers had to punt again. 

5th drive: Own 20, 3:41 left in the 2nd qrt, SF down 10-6
Kaepernick completed 5 of 9 pass attempts in this drive, including his 1-yard TD pass to V. Davis. The 49ers faced only one third down in this drive, defensive pass interference penalty on Carolina on 3rd-and-9 made it 1st-and-goal from CAR 1-yard line. F. Gore was stopped for no gain on first down play, the 49ers hurried to snap the ball on the next play, Kaepernick rolled to his right, extended the play and waited for V. Davis to get open in the corner of the endzone.

6th drive: Own 23, 13:25 left in the 3rd qrt, SF up 13-10
With a lead the 49ers turned more to their running game and F. Gore but it was Kaepernick’s pass to A. Boldin for 45 yards that set them up for another score. Kaepernick slightly underthrew Boldin who was wide open and could have scored a TD had the pass been perfect. Instead the 49ers had the ball on CAR 2-yard line, Kaepernick is going to be ‘credited’ for snap fumble which happened on the first play, but it was more Gore’s fault, the 49ers were lucky to recover the fumble and had 2nd-and-goal from the 2-yard line. Kaepernick kept the ball on read-option play from the pistol and it was WR Q. Patton with a key block that allowed Kaepernick to score.

7th drive: Own 12, 0:33 left in the 3rd qrt, SF up 20-10
Up by 10 the 49ers’ plan was to control the clock. They ran seven run plays compared to five pass plays. Kaepernick’s only scramble play came in this drive, he scrambled for seven yards. Later on this drive he got one yard needed for a first down with QB sneak. Already inside field goal range, the 49ers ran three more times, on the last play Kaepernick lost six yards on bootleg run from the shotgun. P. Dawson’s 34-yard FG was good.

8th drive: Own 27, 4:22 left in the 4th qrt, SF up 23-10
The 49ers ran eight more times to try to run down the clock. The Panthers had to burn all their time-outs and got the ball back with just 19 seconds on the clock.

Drive stats
Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers had 64 offensive plays in just eight drives and scored 2.9 points per drive. Kaepernick connected with V. Davis for one touchdown, ran for another score on designed run play and didn’t turn the ball over. Here are overall drive stats for Sunday game against the Panthers.

Divisional-drive statsOffensive formations
On Sunday Kaepernick lined up under center on 57.8%, he was in shotgun on 23.4% and ran the offense from the pistol on 18.8% of all offensive plays. Similar rates to the ones from the 2013 regular season. Kaepernick ran 12 plays from the pistol, five of them were run plays, one of those five was Kaepernick’s touchdown run in the third quarter.

Divisional-formationsPass plays
Out of 64 offensive plays 30 were designed pass plays: 28 pass attempts, one scramble and one play resulted in a sack.

Divisional-passingKaepernick didn’t put up great passing numbers against one of the best defenses in the NFL, but compared to Week 10 in which the 49ers lost to the Panthers, he did end up with more passing yards, higher passer rating and improved on yards per pass play. Back in Week 10 he was sacked six times on 31 dropbacks, on Sunday just once on 30 dropbacks. Against the Packers it was M. Crabtree who got the most of the yards, this time it was A. Boldin who finished with 136 receiving yards.

Divisional-YPPKaepernick wasn’t as effective on third downs as he was in the regular season and also in the Wild Card game against the Packers. He attempted seven passes and completed three of them for 36 yards.

Divisional-3rd 4th downKaepernick’s only sack came on third down and he ran three times on a designed run play.  Here’s a breakdown of all Kaepernick’s third down plays with comparison to 2012 and 2013 season:

Divisional-3rd4thD situationsUnder pressure

Divisional-under pressureColin Kaepernick was pressured on 35.5% of his total dropbacks back in Week 10 regular season game against Carolina, on Sunday, based on my count, he was pressured on eight (26.7%) of his 30 total dropbacks. He attempted seven and completed three passes for 30 yards when under pressure. The rest of the pressure play resulted in one sack. He did scramble one time, but again, the way I see it, it wasn’t the result of opponent’s pressure.

Incompletions
Kaepernick attempted 28 and completed 15 passes which leaves him with 13 incompletions. In the last two playoff games Kaepernick had combined 26 incompletions and 15 of those (57.7%) were off-targets. Here’s a breakdown of his incompletions:

Divisional-incompletionsRun plays
Colin Kaepernick ran on six designed run plays against Carolina for eight yards (not counting the aborted snap), he scored one touchdown on read-option play and was succesful on two 3rd-and-1 plays with QB sneak.

Divisional-rushingConclusion
As expected, Colin Kaepernick didn’t have the kind of success scrambling with the ball that he did in Wild Card playoffs against the Packers, but he did made some plays on the ground, converting a couple of short third downs and scoring one of the two 49ers’ touchdowns. On Sunday, Colin Kaepernick missed a lot of throws and finished with just 196 passing yards, but that’s 105 yards more than he had against the Panthers back in Week 10. Again, Crabtree’s presence was felt and even though he didn’t put up big numbers he helped Boldin to have 100+ receiving game. I’d like to see Kaepernick to be more accurate with his throws to give the 49ers a chance to stay alive in the playoffs as competition gets tougher.
Next for the 49ers is the NFC Championship game against division rival Seattle Seahawks. Both teams have won home games in the regular season and it will be a huge advantage for the Seahawks to play this game in front of home crowd. Back in Week 2 the 49ers’ defense kept the team in the game, but four turnovers by Colin Kaepernick were the reason for 29-3 loss. I’d be surprised if the 49ers find success against top ranked pass defense (according to Football Outsiders) even with Crabtree back in the lineup. In order to have a chance to advance to second straight Super Bowl, San Francisco has to limit mistakes on offense and not fall behind early in the game as it will be impossible to come from behind against league’s best defense.

2013 NFL Playoff picks – Divisional Playoffs

First 4 playoff games of the 2013 NFL season are in the books. I went 3-1 on my Wild Card playoff picks. Since 1990, home teams are 67-25 (0.728) in Divisional round and 6-2 (0.750) since 2011.
Again, playing at home in the postseason is an important advantage. This time I’m picking 1 road team to win and advance to the Conference Championship game. Here are my picks for all 4 Divisional playoff games.

DivisionalPlayoffs



2013 Colin Kaepernick – Wild Card Playoffs review

Despite having a better regular season record, the San Francisco 49ers (12-4) had to travel to the NFC North division champions Green Bay Packers (8-7-1) for a Wild Card playoff game. San Francisco missed some opportunities to score touchdowns early on in the game played in frigid weather conditions at Lambeau Field, but the offense came through in the end when it mattered most. Just like in the regular season finale against the Cardinals, the 49ers won the game 23-20 on a P. Dawson’s game-winning field goal. Colin Kaepernick had success against the Packers on the ground and in the passing game, but he did missed a few throws and he could have been intercepted more than just once. The 49ers had a total of nine drives and scored 23 points on offense, 2 TDs and 3 FGs.

1st drive: Own 27, 13:28 left in the 1st qrt, score tied 0-0
The 49ers started on offense with F. Gore’s 6-yard run. From that first play on it was all Kaepernick and Crabtree. Kaepernick completed passes to Crabtree for 14, 12, 13 and 31 yards. That 31-yard completion came on 4th-and-6 from GB 35-yard line. In between Kaepernick ran two times on designed runs for a combined loss of three yards. Actually, his second run came on a miscommunication with RB F. Gore on a play in which Kaepernick eventually lost four yards. With the 31-yard Kaepernick to Crabtree completion the 49ers advanced to GB 4-yard line. The 49ers tried to score with play-action plays, but the Packers were prepared and didn’t bite on the run. Kaepernick’s pass intended for V. Davis on 1st-and-goal was nearly intercepted in the end zone, on second down he had to throw the ball away and his third pass intended for Crabtree, who was held on the play, was broken up. The 49ers had to settle for a FG.

2nd drive: Opp 49, 7:06 left in the 1st qrt, SF up 3-0
On the 49ers’ second drive the featured wide receiver was A. Boldin. Again, with great field position to start the drive, the 49ers quickly moved deep into Packers’ territory. The 49ers had 1st-and-10 from GB 11-yard line. Kaepernick tried to pass a quick WR screen to his right, but the Packers took it away, Kaepernick was forced out of the pocket and ran out of bounds behind line of scrimmage which went down as a sack. F. Gore then gained four yards to make it 3rd-and-6. This time Kaepernick looked for Crabtree again, the ball was incomplete and Crabtree didn’t get the penalty call he was looking for. The 49ers had to kick a FG for the second time.

3rd drive: Own 41, 0:34 left in the 1st qrt, SF up 6-0
Kaepernick scrambled for eight yards to start this drive and end the first quarter. F. Gore ran for two, Kaepernick completed a 17-yard pass to A. Boldin and Gore ran for three more yards to move inside GB 30-yard line. On 2nd-and-7 Kaepernick threw a deep pass along right sideline intended for V. Davis, the ball was underthrown and intercepted. As it turned out it was game’s only turnover.

4th drive: Own 32, 5:50 left in the 2nd qrt, SF down 7-6
Down by one, the 49ers quickly responded. The play of this drive was Kaepernick’s 42-yard scramble to set up 1st-and-goal from GB 13-yard line. F. Gore made a key block on the play. K. Hunter gained three yards before F. Gore got 10 yards and a touchdown from the pistol formation. 

5th drive: Own 18, 15:00 left in the 3rd qrt, SF up 13-10
The 49ers opened the second half with their first punt of the game. Kaepernick was off-target with his first two passes and was sacked for a loss of five yards on third down play.

6th drive: Own 18, 12:40 left in the 3rd qrt, SF up 13-10
Kaepernick ran for 16 yards on the first play and connected with M. Crabtree for 22 yards on third play of the drive. Later on, Q. Patton lost a yard on a run play. Kaepernick was pressured on second down and dumped off a pass to TE G. Celek for six yards. On third down he couldn’t avoid the pressure and was sacked for a loss of eight yards. The 49ers decided to punt again, this time from GB 38-yard line.

7th drive: Own 49, 4:58 left in the 3rd qrt, SF up 13-10
Kaepernick was off-target with his first pass of the drive. Pass intended for M. Crabtree was underthrown. On third down he looked for Crabtree again, but five yards weren’t enough for a first down, punt time again.

8th drive: Own 37, 12:06 left in the 4th qrt, SF down 17-13
After three drives which ended with a punt the 49ers finally clicked on offense. It was Kaepernick again with a long scramble run that kept the drive alive, on 3rd-and-4 he ran for 24 yards.  Kaepernick’s next pass was incomplete, but defensive holding penalty put the ball on GB 28-yard line. On first down Kaepernick found TE V. Davis with a perfect pass for a 28-yard touchdown. 

9th drive: Own 20, 5:06 left in the 4th qrt, score tied 20-20
With the score tied, the 49ers got the ball back with 5:06 left in the fourth quarter. Kaepernick was nearly intercepted on third play of the drive when he tried to complete a pass to A. Boldin. On the next play, facing 3rd-and-10 Kaepernick avoided the pressure and stepped up in the pocket to connect with Crabtree for 17 yards. With his next pass Kaepernick went with Gore for 11 yards which gave the 49ers another set of downs with just two minutes left to play. Next big play from Kaepernick came on another third down play with eight yards to go. Kaepernick faked a pass and scrambled for 11 yards. F. Gore runs forced the Packers to burn remaining time-outs, ran down the clock and set up P. Dawson’s game-winning FG.

Drive stats
Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers had 63 offensive plays in just nine drives and scored 2.6 points per drive. Kaepernick connected with V. Davis for one touchdown and was intercepted once. He was more effective running with the ball, mostly on scrambles. Here are overall drive stats for Sunday game against the Packers compared to 2012 regular season (playoffs included) and 2013 regular season. Reminder, TO is a number of turnovers committed only by quarterback. In 16 regular season starts in 2013 Kaepernick lost four fumbles and was intercepted eight times.

WildCard-drive statsOffensive formations
On Sunday Kaepernick lined up under center on 53.9% of all offensive plays. He ran the offense from the pistol on 17.5%, in line with 2013 regular season average, but considerably lower rate compared to 2012 Divisional Playoff game against the Packers (45.3%) and in their Week 1 matchup in 2013 regular season (50.7%). This time the 49ers ran 11 plays from the pistol, six of them were pass plays, Kaepernick ‘ran’ on designed read-option play once, that play broke down and he lost four yards on the play.

WildCard-formationsPass plays
Out of 63 offensive plays 37 were designed pass plays: 30 pass attempts, four scrambles and three plays resulted in a sack.

WildCard-passingKaepernick completed just over 50% of his pass attempts in difficult weather conditions but was 8 of 13 when he targeted M. Crabtree for 125 yards (55% of his total passing yards) and a 93.4 passer rating. For the most part of the game Kaepernick had time to throw, but was more effective on the ground when he decided to run on a designed pass play. On four scrambles he gained 85 yards. He was sacked three times and gained 8.1 yards per pass play.

WildCard-YPPKaepernick was again very effective on 3rd/4th downs. In his pro career he’s been outstanding on critical downs with a 100.8 passer rating. Against the Packers he attempted six passes and completed four of them for 65 yards.

WildCard-3rd 4th downKaepernick scrambled twice on third downs for 24 and 11 yards, both times good for another first down. Each of the two scramble plays came in the last two drives. He was sacked twice and ran once for -4 yards (miscommunication play with RG F. Gore). Here’s a breakdown of all Kaepernick’s 3rd/4th down plays with comparison to 2012 and 2013 season:

WildCard-3rd4thD situationsUnder pressure

WildCard-under pressureColin Kaepernick was pressured on just 6 (16.2%) of his 37 total dropbacks, based on my count. He attempted three and completed one pass for six yards when under pressure. The rest of the pressure plays resulted in three sacks. He did scramble four times, but all of his scramble plays weren’t the result of opponent’s pressure. As he did many times in the regular season, Kaepernick left the pocket before the pressure got to him.

Incompletions
Kaepernick attempted 30 and completed 16 passes with one interception which leaves him with 13 incompletions. Here’s a breakdown of his incompletions:

WildCard-incompletionsRun plays
Colin Kaepernick ran on three designed run plays against Green Bay. He gained one yard (QB sweep), lost four yards on a miscommunication play and ran for 16 on QB draw, but gained, as already mentioned, 85 yards on four scrambles.

WildCard-rushingConclusion
In last season’s Divisional playoffs Kaepernick ran for 181 yards as the 49ers beat the Packers 45-31. At the start of this season, back in Week 1, he beat the Packers through the air with 412 passing yards and 3 TDs. On Sunday, Colin Kaepernick did a little bit of both as he passed for 227 and ran for 98 yards to help the 49ers beat the Packers 23-20. Kaepernick had all day to throw but missed a few throws, one of his passes resulted in interception. He was nearly intercepted on two other occasions, but was lucky enough to get away with just incomplete passes. He will have to be more accurate with his throws to give the 49ers a chance to further advance in the playoffs, better weather conditions will probably help, but tougher competition definitely won’t.
Next for the 49ers is a game against Carolina Panthers in the NFC Divisional playoffs. The last time this two teams met was Week 10 game in San Francisco. It was a defensive battle in which the 49ers lost 10-9. Without M. Crabtree and also V. Davis, who had to leave the game in the middle of the second quarter due to concussion, Kaepernick didn’t find answers for third ranked defense (according to Football Outsiders) and had one of the worst performances of the season. The Panthers are well-rested team, hungry for a playoff win. The 49ers on the other side are coming off a difficult win on the road in cold weather conditions and now have to travel cross-country for an early game. In order to get another road win in the playoffs, the 49ers will have to play much better on offense, especially in the red zone.

2013 NFL Playoff picks – Wild Card Weekend

Regular season concluded with a final Week 17 in the NFL. I finished with 15-1 record on my Week 17 NFL picks. That’s 159-96-1 (.623) overall for the 2013 regular season, down a few percentage points compared to previous two regular seasons, 2011 (0.660) & 2012 (0.654). Here is a chart with weekly percentages on my NFL picks for 2013 regular season.

weekly chartWhat’s left for me is to pick winners for 11 playoff games, Super Bowl included. It all starts with 4 Wild Card playoff games. In 1990 the NFL expanded its playoff system and went with 12 instead of 10 playoff teams for the first time. Since then, home teams are 61-31 (0.663) in Wild Card games and 7-1 (0.875) since 2011.
Obviously, playing at home in the postseason is an important advantage, but I’m picking 2 road teams to win this weekend. Here are my picks for all 4 Wild card playoff games.

WildCard