Colin Kaepernick and San Francisco offense got a big help from defensive unit again on Sunday Night. The defense forced 4 turnovers against the Texans and when the offense got the ball for the first time there were already 7 points on the board. The 49ers on offense did something they haven’t done this season though. They scored TD on their opening drive. With a 14-0 lead the 49ers really didn’t need more than they got from Colin Kaepernick who attempted career-low 15 passes as a starter. Kaepernick led the 49ers on 9 drives (Colt McCoy came in the game for the final 10th drive) and SF scored 3 touchdowns on offense and had to punt the ball 4 times. On average, they’ve started their drives on own 39 yard line.
1st drive: Own 35, 7:35 left in the 1st qrt, SF up 7-0
Kaepernick completed three 3rd down passes on his first drive of the game. First he found V. Davis for 13 yards on 3rd and 10, the second one again to V. Davis on 3rd and 5 for 11 yards and the 3rd pass he completed to A. Boldin on 3rd and 9 play for 9 yards which gave the 49ers 1st and goal from HOU 1 yard line. F. Gore got in the endzone on the next play to make it 14-0.
2nd drive: Own 8, 12:52 left in the 2nd qrt, SF up 14-0
The 49ers ran the ball on first 3 plays of the second drive. F. Gore lost 4 yards on last run play which made it 2nd and 14. Kaepernick was off-target and couldn’t complete passes to A. Boldin on 2nd and 3rd down plays and the 49ers had to punt for the first time.
3rd drive: Opp 32, 7:01 left in the 2nd qrt, SF up 14-0
CB T. Brock intercepted QB M. Schaub for the second time which gave the 49ers excellent field position on offense. On the first play the Texans put pressure on Kaepernick who had to scramble. He avoided the pressure and gained 14 yards on the play. F. Gore ran on the next play for 14 yards and ran for no gain on 1st and goal. RB A. Dixon finished the drive with 2-yard touchdown run.
4th drive: Own 29, 1:32 left in the 2nd qrt, SF up 21-0
Up by 21 late in the 1st half the 49ers went conservative and decided to just run down the clock with three K. Hunter run plays. They punted the ball with just 50 seconds left in the half.
5th drive: Own 20, 15:00 left in the 3rd qrt, SF up 21-0
The 49ers started the second half with 3 and out series. Kaepernick attempted passes to 3 different receivers. Pass to V. Davis was off-target, the second one to A. Boldin was batted down at the line and the third one to WR J. Baldwin was caught out-of-bounds.
6th drive: Own 25, 12:01 left in the 3rd qrt, SF up 21-3
After two F. Gore runs the 49ers faced 3rd and 5. Kaepernick was again under pressure, but this time couldn’t avoid the sack. It was second straight 3 and out drive for the 49ers.
7th drive: Own 41, 8:35 left in the 3rd qrt, SF up 21-3
Kaepernick’s pass to A.Boldin on 3rd and 6 was incomplete but defensive holding penalty kept the drive alive. The 49ers went heavy with running plays in this drive and when F. Gore lost 5 yards they faced another 2nd and long. Two incompletion to V. Davis (one deflected and the other defended) and the 49ers had to settle for a FG.
8th drive: Own 31, 0:25 left in the 3rd qrt, SF up 24-3
On 3rd and 5 the 49ers confused Houston’s defense with pre-snap shifts and motions, Kaepernick saw double coverage on A. Boldin and found open V. Davis further down the field. V. Davis outsprinted safety E. Reed and with 44 yards after the catch scored 49ers’ final touchdown of the game.
9th drive: Opp 8, 13:17 left in the 3rd qrt, SF 31-3
The defense recovered a fumble deep in Houston’s territory. Kaepernick just had to handoff the ball 3 more times to his running backs to set up 49ers’ second FG attempt. The kick was good, the score SF 34-3.
The 49ers got solid performance from offensive unit facing one of the best defenses in the league. The 49ers scored 3 points per drive with Colin Kaepernick at quarterback who didn’t turn the ball over for the second time this season. The team had 43 offensive plays (Colt McCoy snaps at the end of the game not included).
With the return of its power running game, San Francisco again mainly operated from under center. The 49ers attacked the Texans on season-high 67.4% from formations with Colin Kaepernick under center and just like previous week against the Rams, ran the pistol on less than 10% of all plays.
Out of 43 offensive plays only 17 (39.5%) were designed pass plays: 15 pass attempts, 1 scramble and 1 play resulted in a sack. Kaepernick didn’t have great day passing against Texans defense. Before the long TD pass to V. Davis in the beginning of 4th qrt he only passed for 49 yards. But as I already mentioned in this post, the 49ers didn’t need Kaepernick to be prolific passer in this game with a big early lead and another strong offensive performance on the ground.
Low passing numbers tell one story, but Kaepernick did deliver when he needed to. He was great on 3rd downs, especially on first offensive drive when he converted 3 of those critical downs. He attempted 7 passes and completed 4 of them for 97 yards, 1 TD with 0 INT and 141.4 passer rating on 3rd down plays.
Colin Kaepernick was pressured only 3 times out of total 17 dropbacks (17.6%) against the Texans. Those pressure plays resulted in one sack, one 14-yard scramble for a 1st down and one incomplete pass.
Kaepernick attempted 15 passes and completed only 6 of them. Here’s a breakdown of his 9 incompletions. He was off-target 5 times, had 2 passes batted down/deflected, 1 of his pass was caught out-of-bounds and another accurate pass to V. Davis defended by Houston defender.
Last week against the Rams Colin Kaepernick didn’t run with the ball on a designed run play for the first time in his pro career. It happened again on Sunday Night, Kaepernick for the second week in a row didn’t run with the ball on a designed run play and is yet to score a rushing TD this season.
Kaepernick’s final stat line against the Texans looks more like halftime line as he attempted only 15 passes, didn’t run on a designed run play and scrambled once in the whole game. But he did enough for the 49ers to win the game. As coach Jim Harbaugh said: “Quarterbacks aren’t going to throw for 400-500 yards every game… We’re after the win.” But there will be games down the road in which San Francisco will have to rely on its passing game a lot more. At this point in the season it seems that the biggest problem is a lack of receiving weapons for Colin Kaepernick who completed more than 50% of his passes to A. Boldin or V. Davis. Help could be on the way really soon as WR M. Mannigham and also M. Crabtree could return late November/early December, but untill then Kaepernick will have to deal with currently active wide receiver group of players and try to use them more effectively. For example here’s a play from 3rd quarter. Facing 2nd and 15 from HOU 20 yard line, the 49ers used 12 personnel set with 2 wide receivers (K. Williams & A. Boldin). The result of the play was deflected pass intended for TE V. Davis. But one simple pump fake could have beat the coverage and Kaepernick, who had decent pass protection on the play, could have easily lobbed a pass to K. Williams who was getting open in the endzone. (click on image to enlarge).
The 49ers will probably try to execute similar game plan to the one from Week 4 & Week 5 this coming Sunday when they’ll face Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals are allowing only 19.0 points per game (tied for 10th in the NFL) so far in the season and are surprisingly better defending the run than the pass so it will be interesting to see if the 49ers can implement their power running game against Arizona as effectively as they did in the past two weeks.