2012 Colin Kaepernick Under Review – Playoffs Included

In my first post about Colin Kaepernick I reviewed his 2012 regular season, starting with Week 10 when he replaced injured QB Alex Smith. In this post I’ll add to the set of stats the ones from 3 playoff games. I charted them the same way I did regular season games.

With the playoffs data included I’ll have a reference to which I’ll compare 2013 Colin Kaepernick. Each week, starting with Week 1 against Green Bay, I’ll collect data charting the games and present them in a similar way I did in the 2012 review. I’ll look at general drive stats, offensive formations and I’ll do a separate breakdown of all pass and run plays. For now, let’s look at stats with playoffs included. (click on the images to enlarge)

Drive stats

drive_statsAs competition got tougher in the playoffs, the 49ers actually scored more points per drive, increased the number of TDs per drive and punted the ball fewer timer per drive. But their starting field position was worse (own 27 yard line) compared to regular season (own 33 yard line). Drives which ended with kneel downs are not included in average starting field position. Here’s a chart  with average starting field position and average drive length.

field positionOn average, playoffs included, the 49ers started on offense on their own 31 yard line and marched downfield 36 yards. Average drive ended on opponent’s 33 yard line.

Offensive formations

formationsThe 49ers didn’t really used the pistol offense until Week 14 against Miami Dolphins. After that game they slowly moved away from that type of offensive formation and used more pro style formations. In Week 17, in the regular season finale against Arizona, the pistol was used only twice or 3.3 % of total plays on offense. Looking back, it seems like the 49ers wanted it that way all along, as they caught off guard Packers’ defense in Divisional playoff round, surprising them with a load of pistol plays with a rate of 45.3 %  – a season high at that point by a big margin. Look for the 49ers to mix up offensive formations during 2013 again as they’ll try to confuse opposing defenses. I got a feeling they won’t use the pistol against Green Bay in Week 1 as much as they did against them last season in the playoffs.

Pass plays

passingIn the image above we can see standard passing stats to which I added YAC. YAC % is simply percentage of yards gained after the catch of the total passing yards. As mentioned in the first post, those stats don’t include all Kaepernick’s dropbacks. No sign of sacks or scrambles which are also designed pass plays. I added those to compare regular and postseason yards per pass play.

YPPAgain we can see improvement in the playoffs compared to regular season even though Kaepernick and the 49ers faced tougher competition in postseason. Lower sack rate, higher average yards gained per scramble and all together more Yards per Pass Play.

under pressureAbove is an image with an overview of all plays in which Kaepernick was under pressure together with plays on 3rd and 4th down. Similar stats for Colin Kaepernick when under pressure if we compare regular season and playoffs. It is also worth noting that many times Kaepernick beat the pressure with his legs, meaning he used his speed and ability to run with the ball so that pass rush didn’t even have time to get close to him. On those occasions, even though he scrambled on a pass plays, I didn’t chart a play as play in which quarterback was under pressure. Next is a summary of all 3rd/4th down situations. Reminder, success rate is percentage of 3rd/4th down resulting in new set of downs or TD.



18The % of dropped passes and in a way also the number of passes defended leads me to think that Kaepernick was a much more accurate quarterback in the playoffs. His % of off-target passes is also lower in the playoffs than in regular season games and not even once did he intentionally throw away a pass in the playoffs.

Run plays

Colin Kaepernick scrambled with the ball more often that ran on a designed run play. He also gained more yardage as he tried to avoid the pressure. In the coming 2013 season I’ll breakdown run plays further more, to see for example how many of those will be read-option runs.



It goes without saying that turning the ball over is even more deadly in the playoffs. Here’s one last image with all turnovers, added are interception and turnover rates. Again, TO is a number of turnovers committed only by quarterback.

20Those set of stats will roughly be what I’ll focus on in the upcoming 2013 season. As I’ll go along I might add some more stats, for example average distance on 3rd downs, red-zone situational plays ….
Next post will be 2013 Week 1 review. Weekly reviews will be more drive-by-drive based posts. Already looking forward to game chart Kaepernick’s first game in 2013.


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