Ugly. That’s one way to describe 49ers’ performance on offense against the Panthers on Sunday. The 49ers couldn’t move the ball, especially after V. Davis had to leave the game with a concussion. Colin Kaepernick had his worst performance since he took over at quarterback for San Francisco 49ers who didn’t score a touchdown for the second time this season. The 49ers had 13 drives and came up with only 3 field goals.
1st drive: Own 20, 15:00 left in the 1st qrt, score tied 0-0
The 49ers’ first drive was also their longest drive of the game. SF went 9 plays for 46 yards which took 4:15 off the clock. The drive was a mixture of quick short passes and F. Gore runs, but on critical 3rd-and-2 from CAR 33 yard line the 49ers couldn’t get a first down. It was F. Gore who lost 1 yard on the play and the 49ers had to settle for a field goal.
2nd drive: Own 26, 9:07 left in the 1st qrt, SF up 3-0
The second drive started the same way the first ended, this time it was L. James who lost yard on the play. On the next play Kaepernick hit M. Manningham for 10 yards. The pass was a bit overthrown and Manningham couldn’t get any yards after catch necessary for a first down, it was 3rd-and-1. On that critical 3rd down it was Gore who carried the ball, but again lost yard. The 49ers had to punt.
3rd drive: Own 24, 2:23 left in the 1st qrt, SF up 3-0
It got worst on the 49ers’ next possession. Kaepernick was sacked for a loss of 4 yards to start this 3rd drive. Following F. Gore run for 5 yards, Kaepernick had to scramble and gained 5 yards on 3rd-and-9. The 49ers had to punt again, but Carolina’s punt returner muffed the punt and 49ers recovered the ball in the Panthers territory.
4th drive: Opp 41, 0:17 left in the 1st qrt, SF up 3-0
The turnover gave the 49ers the ball on CAR 41 yard line. Kaepernick passed the ball to F. Gore who got 11 yards. Later, after 3 yard Gore run and incomplete pass intended for M. Manningham, Kaepernick found V. Davis for 2 yards, short of a first down. The drive ended with a field goal.
5th drive: Own 32, 12:33 left in the 2nd qrt, SF up 6-0
The 5th drive started with another sack and -14 yards. F. Gore ran for a yard on second down and Kaepernick wasted 3rd down play with a behind-of-LOS pass to K. Williams who gained 5 yards, 4th-and-18 and another punt.
6th drive: Opp 26, 8:58 left in the 2nd qrt, SF up 6-0
SF defense helped the offense with another take-away, CB T. Brock intercepted QB C. Newton and got to CAR 24 yard line. F. Gore ran for 18 yards on first 2 plays. From CAR 6 yard line Kaepernick found V. Davis on a roll-out play. Davis seemed to fumble the ball and was injured on the play. The 49ers were lucky as the play, which was under review, was ruled as an incomplete pass. F. Gore ran for 4 yards on 3rd down, 1 yard short of 1st down. The 49ers tried to draw a penalty from the Panthers on 4th-and-1, but it didn’t happen. SF took a 9-0 lead with another FG.
7th drive: Own 20, 1:52 left in the 2nd qrt, SF up 9-7
Kaepernick hit A. Boldin for 9 yards to start the last drive of the half. K. Hunter ran for 3 yards on 3rd-and-1. Kaepernick was pressured on the next play and took a sack for a loss of 8 yards. Feeling the pressure again, Kaepernick had to scramble for 1 yard. On 3rd-and-17 the 49ers decided to run to end the half. K Hunter gained 11 yards.
8th drive: Own 29, 11:57 left in the 3rd qrt, SF up 9-7
Kaepernick found Boldin for 9 yards but lost 6 yards on read-option run on the next play. With false start penalty the long 3rd down got even longer. On 3rd-and-12 Kaepernick hit F. Gore on a short pass for 10 yards. With 4th-and-2 the 49ers had to punt.
9th drive: Own 38, 3:41 left in the 3rd qrt, SF up 9-7
It was promising start of the drive as F. Gore gained 14 yards on first play. Neutral zone infraction penalty made it 1st-and-5. F. Gore gained another 4 yards, but on 2nd-and-1 from CAR 39 yard line K. Hunter fumbled the ball, recovered by CAR.
10th drive: Own 13, 0:13 left in the 3rd qrt, SF up 9-7
Another promising start to the drive. Kaepernick scrambled for 16 yards and unnecessary roughness penalty on CAR put the ball on SF 44 yard line. What followed was a series of poorly executed plays. First, M. Manningham dropped a short pass from Kaepernick. Next, it was TE V. McDonald who dropped perfectly thrown deep pass from Kaepernick. On the next play, Kaepernick connected with Manningham for 14 yards, but offensive pass interference on A. Boldin nullified the play. That led to a 3rd-and-25, Kaepernick had no chance and took another sack, another punt for the 49ers.
11th drive: Own 12, 10:05 left in the 4th qrt, SF down 10-9
Down for the first the 49ers had to respond, but instead they went 3-and-out. F. Gore carried the ball for 3 yards and 2 more incompletions led to another punt. The first one was an intentional throw-away pass by Kaepernick who was under pressure and escaped a possible sack, the second one was overthrown pass intended for A. Boldin.
12th drive: Own 1, 5:25 left in the 4th qrt, SF down 10-9
Late in the 4th qrt, trailing by 1, the 49ers had the worst starting field position. On 3rd-and-10 Kaepernick found M. Manningham for 14 yards and a first down. But the Panthers were in perfect spot to put pressure on Kaepernick who took another sack on the next play. Kaepernick hit Manningham for 6 yards and couldn’t connect with K. Williams on 3rd down play. Punt time.
13th drive: Own 20, 1:02 left in the 4th qrt, SF down 10-9
With just over a minute to play in the game, Kaepernick had one last chance to engineer a comeback. The attempt to lead the 49ers to a victory quickly ended. Kaepernick was sacked on the first play of the drive, with no time-outs left the 49ers lost a lot of valuable time. On the next play Kaepernick forced a pass into traffic and was intercepted which sealed the win for the Panthers.
Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers had 52 offensive plays and scored 0.7 points per drive. Kaepernick turned the ball over once, the interception came on his last pass of the game.
Kaepernick was under center less than 50% of all offensive snaps for the first time since Week 4 (vs Indianapolis). Again, the pistol offense wasn’t used as much as in the last season’s playoffs. The rate of pistol formation could go up though If the 49ers plan to use RB L. James more in the coming weeks. Just like in other 2 losses this season, shotgun was used more than 40%.
Out of 52 offensive plays 31 were designed pass plays: 22 pass attempts, 3 scrambles and career high for Kaepernick – 6 sacks.
With all the pressure coming at him, Kaepernick couldn’t really settle into passing rhythm. Only 2.2 Yards per Pass Play is his career low mark and almost unbelievable 19.4% sack rate is highest mark in his career.
Kaepernick completed 4 of 6 3rd down pass attempts for 31 yards with 79.2 passer rating.
Here’s a breakdown of all Kaepernick’s 3rd down plays:
Colin Kaepernick was pressured on 11 (35.5%) of his total drop backs – the highest rate so far in 2013. He attempted 3 passes when under pressure with 0 completions and was sacked 6 times. The other 2 pressure plays were scrambles.
Kaepernick completed 11 of 22 passes. He was intercepted once, the rest were 10 incompletions.
Kaepernick only ran on 1 designed run play from pistol formation and lost 6 yards on read-option run. He scrambled 3 times, 2 of those scrambles were forced by Carolina’s pressure. Here’s a table with comparison to last season and 1st half of the 2013.
After first 9 games of 2013 I think we’ve seen enough to safely say that the 49ers don’t ask from Kaepernick to go through a lot of reads in passing game. The 49ers try to find favorable match-ups with scheme, pre-snap motions and V. Davis is a big part of that offense. And when Davis was out of the game against the Panthers it became that much more difficult for Colin Kaepernick to have any success on offense against stout Carolina defense. Apart form 3-step drop backs, quick short throws the Panthers rarely allowed Kaepernick to throw comfortably within the pocket and they constantly put pressure on him. According to Football Outsiders the Panthers now have league’s best defense, so give credit to Carolina who forced Kaepernick to have his worst day as a pro.
Kaepernick never really developed the right connection with WR Kyle Williams who was released by the 49ers yesterday. With Manningham back, and with Crabtree expected to return early in December the 49ers might get much-needed boost in passing dimension of the offense. So far Vernon Davis (7) and Anquan Boldin (2) are the only 2 players to have TD receptions for San Francisco.
It’s hard for me to believe the 49ers can bounce back against the Saints next week in New Orleans and suddenly find an explosive passing attack. The Saints have so much weapons on offense and it will be difficult for San Francisco to keep up on offense, especially if V. Davis can’t go.