2013 Colin Kaepernick – Week 1 review

Long awaited 2013 season finally kicked off. The plan as I explained in previous posts is to review Kaepernick’s 2013 season. First, the review of each drive from Week 1 game against Green Bay Packers. If you’re looking for 2013 Week 1 stats compared to 2012 season then you can skip drive breakdown part and scroll down to the bottom of the post.

1st drive: Own 20, 13:20 left in the 1st qrt, score tied 0-0
The 49ers & Colin Kaepernick started the first offensive series with 3 different offensive formations (under center with 2 backs in the backfield, pistol and shotgun). After two incompletions and a scramble for 8 yards by Colin Kaepernick, the 49ers were forced to punt and end its first series with 3 & out.

2nd drive: Own 17, 9:51 left in the 1st qrt, score tied 0-0
On first play of the second drive, the Packers stopped RB K. Hunter behind the line of scrimmage for a loss of 7 yards. On obvious passing down situations Kaepernick found V. Davis and later A. Boldin to get the first new set of downs in the game. In this drive Kaepernick completed passes to 5 different receivers ending the drive with a 20-yard TD pass to TE V. Davis on 3rd & 8.

3rd drive: Own 25, 1:05 left in the 1st qrt, score tied 7-7
The 49ers started the 2nd quarter with a false start penalty. Facing another 2nd & long, Kaepernick connected with A. Boldin for a nice gain. On 3rd & 5 he found him yet again for 22 yards and a 1st down. With another 3rd down situation, Kaepernick dropped back to pass but decided to scramble as he couldn’t find open receiver. Drive ended with another punt.

4th drive: Opp 4, 11:15 left in the 2nd qrt, score tied 7-7
The 49ers quickly got the ball back as defense forced and recovered Eddie Lacy’s fumble deep in the Packers’ territory. But 2 costly penalties, illegal formation and later unsportsmanlike conduct which offset with C. Matthews’ personal foul on Colin Kaepernick, put the 49ers on Packers’ 10 yard line facing 3rd & 6. Kaepernick connected with his favorite target, quick pass to A.Boldin who scored a touchdown.

5th drive: Own 43, 8:01 left in the 2nd qrt, SF up 14-7
Following incompletion and a pressure from Packers which forced Kaepernick to step out of bounce behind line of scrimmage (officially he took a sack for a 2 yard loss), the 49ers committed another penalty, this time delay of game. On 3rd and long Kaepernick was pressured and had to throw the ball away. The drive resulted with second 3 & out for the day.

6th drive: Own 44, 4:28 left in the 2nd qrt, score tied 14-14
Kaepernick continued to look for A. Boldin, on 2nd & 10 he threw a laser to Boldin for 22 more yards. Later on 2nd & 12 on GB 36 C. Matthews got to him again, Kaepernick couldn’t avoid the pressure and he took a sack. With another 3rd & long 49ers had to settle for a field goal try after V. Davis caught a 12 yard pass short of a 1st down. P. Dawson missed a 48-yard field goal attempt.

7th drive: Own 40, 0:16 left in the half, score tied 14-14
San Francisco got the ball back with just 16 seconds left on the clock. Followed by a 14 yard completion to K. Williams, Kaepernick attempted a ‘Hail Mary’ pass which was defended in the endzone.

8th drive: Own 20, 15:00 left in the 3rd qrt, score tied 14-14
SF won the coin toss and elected to defer so they got the ball first in the 2nd half. Kaepernick completed 4 passes to A. Boldin. The most important one on another 3rd down play from own 21 with pinpoint accurate throw into double coverage which kept the drive alive. He ended  9-play, 5-minute drive with a 2 yard TD toss to V. Davis on 1st & goal play out of the play-action.

9th drive: Own 35, 7:41 left in the 3rd qrt, SF up 21-14
Leading 21-14 49ers’ 9th drive ended quickly with another 3 & out. Rookie TE V. McDonald dropped a pass on 2nd & 5 which could have resulted in a 1st down. With another incomplete pass (underthrown to M. Moore) the 49ers had to punt again.

10th drive: Own 20, 3:49 left in the 3rd qrt, score tied 21-21
Facing 3rd & 9 on own 37 Kaepernick showed great ability to avoid a sack and scrambled for 15 yards. But later on, on a rare designed run play, lost 7 yards and with another false start penalty it was 3rd and long again (3rd & 17). On the 1st play of 4th quarter, Kaepernick decided to dump off the pass underneath to F. Gore who got 9 yards after catch, but it was short of a 1st down. P. Dawson made a 27-yard field goal.

11th drive: Own 17, 12:59 left in the 4th qrt, SF up 24-21
After a 17 yard pass play to FB B. Miller, Kaepernick lost yardage again on designed run play. On 3rd & 14 he was under pressure and hit as he threw deep ball to K. Williams. Williams beat CB Sam Shields on the play, but had to adjust to a underthrown pass. This could have been a TD if Kaepernick had more time in the pocket. It was a costly incompletion which forced 49ers to punt.

12th drive: Own 20, 8:26 left in the 4th qrt, SF down 28-24
Down by 4 in the 4th quarter, this was Kaepernick’s opportunity to engineer his first 4th quarter comeback of 2013 NFL season and he wasted little time to do so. First he scrambled for 5 yards then he connected with A. Boldin for 43 yards. RB K. Hunter & F. Gore did the rest. The 49ers went 5 plays for 80 yards for a TD in just 2:39.

13th drive: Own 35, 4:52 left in the 4th qrt, SF up 31-28
We had to wait till the last SF drive to see the play of the game. The 49ers were trying to run down the clock as expected with run heavy offense, but on 4th & 2 with 3 minutes left on the clock, on GB 36 yard line, the 49ers went for it. Kaepernick rolled to his right, avoided pressure and found A. Boldin for one last time in this game. Followed by 3 runs, the last one by Kaepernick on a designed run play for 2 yards, P. Dawson kicked a FG to make it 34-28.

As advertised in my 2012 Colin Kaepernick’s review I’ll compare 2013 weekly stats with his 2012 performance. Again a reminder that 2012 numbers are for Week 10 – Week 17 only with playoffs included if not otherwise noted.

Drive stats
As we can see from above drive-by-drive breakdown Kaepernick & the 49ers had 13 drives on offense with total of 75 offensive plays (penalty plays for no play and field goal attempts not included). TO is a number of turnovers committed only by quarterback.

drive statsOffensive formations

formationsIn the table above I made an exception and separately presented data for 2012 regular season and playoffs.  It’s because I wanted to show the difference between the two in terms of offensive formation %. In first game of 2013 in Week 1 the 49ers used the pistol the most, similar to last season’s playoffs.

Pass plays
Out of total 75 offensive plays, 45 were designed pass plays: 39 pass attempts, 4 scrambles and 2 plays resulted in a sack. First let’s take a look at standard passing stats with comparison to 2012 season.

passingAnd a table with calculated yards per pass play and sack rate.

YPPIt would be an understatement saying that Colin Kaepernick had a good game passing against Green Bay, he was great especially on 3rd and 4th down situations, with 12 pass attempts, 75% completion rate, 2 TDs and a 152.1 passer rating in those situations. He also scrambled 3 times on 3rd down for 25 yards and ran on designed run play once for 2 yards.

3rd 4th down3rd 4thD situations

Success rate is % of plays which resulted in new set of downs or TDs.

Under pressure

under pressure

Based on my count, Colin Kaepernick was pressured only 5 times. Surprisingly low number, but he had all the time he needed to throw the ball from the pocket. When he left the pocket he used his ability to avoid the pressure with his legs. He took 2 sacks and was forced to scramble due to pressure only once. He attempted only 2 passes under pressure with 0 comp., one pass was defended, the other intentionally thrown away.

Kaepernick attempted a total of 39 passes and completed 27 of them, here’s a complete breakdown of all 12 incompletions.

incompletionsRun plays
As I anticipated before the game, the 49ers didn’t used Colin Kaepernick as dual-threat quarterback running wild as much as they did it in 2012 Divisional playoffs ( 8 runs for 108 yards and a TD – kneel downs excluded). In fact, Kaepernick ran with the ball on only 3 designed run plays for a loss of 8 yards. Two of those were read-option runs, one was naked bootleg.

Week 1 against the Packers was a great overall performance by Colin Kaepernick, he exploited Green Bay defense whose obvious plan was to stop 49ers’ running game and to take away the read-option. They did that really well but in doing that they handed opportunities to Colin Kaepernick in the passing game. Kaepernick became only 2nd 49ers QB with 400+ yards passing, 3 TDs and 0 INTs since 1960 joining the great Joe Montana (1985 & 1990). WR A. Boldin was targeted 17 times, he caught 13 passes, maybe the most important one in 4th quarter on 4th & 2 for a 1st down which iced the game.
Kaepernick was more than effective passer in the red zone. Completing 5 of 6 pass attempts, 3 of those for touchdowns.
There’s always room for improvement. The play calling/huddle management has to be better, but that’s not always quarterback’s fault. The 49ers coaches admitted their part of the blame, sending plays in earlier would help Kaepernick reading opposing defenses. In general the 49ers would like to see players commit fewer offensive penalties. Too many false starts and a delay of game cost 49ers to prematurely end promising drives.
Next up for the 49ers, a trip to Seattle for a SNF clash with division rival. Improvement in play calling/huddle management would definitely help 49ers in a game against the Seahawks who I expect will be more successful in applying pressure on Colin Kaepernick than the Packers were on Sunday.


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