The 49ers got back on track with a win against a pretty bad Redskins team and improved to 4-0 under coach Jim Harbaugh in games played on Monday Night. After two dismal performances against the Panthers and the Saints, Colin Kaepernick did play better against Washington. In a way that was expected with the Redskins being one of the worst teams defending the pass. Technically, the 49ers had 11 drives on offense, not counting last drive with three kneel downs from Colin Kaepernick to end the game. With 11 drives the 49ers scored 27 points on offense, 3 TDs and 2 FGs.
1st drive: Own 31, 13:59 left in the 1st qrt, score tied 0-0
The 49ers started their first drive with F. Gore run who gained two yards. On second down Kaepernick hit Manningham with short pass for 11 yards and a first down. After F. Gore ran for five yards, Kaepernick failed to complete a pass on two drop backs, on first one he had to take a sack, the second one was a pass over the middle intended to V. Davis which was defended by CB D. Hall. The 49ers had to punt.
2nd drive: Own 21, 9:00 left in the 1st qrt, score tied 0-0
Kaepernick continued to look for Manningham on short passes, this time for 13 yards. But the drive ended similar to the first offensive possession, two drop backs resulted in a sack and incompletion which was intentional throw-away on second down. Second punt for the 49ers.
3rd drive: Own 38, 6:13 left in the 1st qrt, score tied 0-0
Again, Kaepernick looked for WR M. Manningham early on. First pass to him was incomplete, but the second one on 3rd-and-8 was on target for 11 yards and a first down. Later on 49ers almost lost the ball, Kaepernick fumbled the snap, but was able to pick up the ball and scrambled away for two yards. Facing 3rd-and-4 Kaepernick completed first of many deep passes in the game, 24 yards to A. Boldin. With first play inside the red zone, 49ers wasted little time to score, Kaepernick threw a great pass to A. Boldin who caught 19-yard touchdown pass.
4th drive: Own 42, 15:00 left in the 2nd qrt, SF up 7-0
Offense received a gift from the defense, D. Whitner intercepted RGIII which put the ball on SF 42-yard line. On the first play Kaepernick connected with V. Davis for 40 yards, Davis could have gained more yards after catch if Kaepernick hadn’t slightly underthrew the deep ball. After two more runs, Kaepernick had to scramble on 3rd-and-5, but he only got two yards on the play, short of another first down. The 49ers were forced to kick a field goal.
5th drive: Own 27, 6:43 left in the 2nd qrt, SF up 10-3
With first two plays 49ers gained five yards on the ground and faced 3rd-and-5. Kaepernick’s pass intended to A. Boldin was almost intercepted. First 3-and-out and the 49ers had to punt again.
6th drive: Own 35, 15:00 left in the 3rd qrt, SF up 10-6
Kaepernick’s first pass of next possession was again almost intercepted by P. Riley. On 3rd-and-9 V. Davis seemed to have a first down but lost the ball as he was fighting for extra yards. The fumble was recovered by Washington.
7th drive: Own 40, 12:06 left in the 3rd qrt, SF up 10-6
The Redskins turned the ball on downs and the 49ers started their next possession on own 40-yard line. Short pass to F. Gore and incomplete pass (forced drop) intended to V. Davis made it 3rd-and-7, but Kaepernick threw a great pass to Boldin for 32 yards for another set of downs. Facing 2nd-and-11 Kaepernick found open V. Davis for 20 yards to move into the redzone territory. With 1st-and-goal from the 6-yard line, Kaepernick showed patience when he was forced to leave the pocket, extended the play and waited for Boldin to get open in the back of the endzone for another TD.
8th drive: Opp 40, 7:45 left in the 3rd qrt, SF up 17-6
Kaepernick faced another third down after the 49ers gained only six yards on first two run plays. On 3rd-and-4 he tried to complete a pass to L. James, the pass was thrown behind LOS and a bit off-target. The 49ers decided to went for it on fourth down, this time Kaepernick almost had to throw the ball away. The 49ers turned the ball on downs.
9th drive: Opp 39, 3:35 left in the 3rd qrt, SF up 17-6
The drive started with false start penalty on A. Boldin. But on 1st-and-15 Kaepernick again had open receiver, this time it was V. McDonald for 23 yards. On the next play, Kaepernick ran on designed bootleg run for eight yards. Two runs from F. Gore for 12 yards made it 2nd-and goal from WAS 1-yard line. The 49ers faked the run which left V. Davis wide-open in the endzone for easy TD.
10th drive: Own 45, 14:48 left in the 4th qrt, SF up 24-6
Up by 18 in the beginning of fourth quarter, the 49ers engineered the longest drive of the game to put the game away. It was a mixture of runs and short passes, the drive took almost six minutes and ended with a FG.
11th drive: Own 20, 6:20 left in the 4th qrt, SF up 27-6
Leading by 21 the 49ers’ only intention was to run down the clock, they ran the ball five times on this drive, took almost four minutes off the clock and punted the ball away.
Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers had 56 offensive plays (three kneel downs at the end excluded) and scored 2.45 points per drive. Kaepernick didn’t turned the ball over, but he came close on a couple of plays. He passed for 3 TDs and now has 14 touchdown passes and 11 turnovers for the season.
As already mentioned Kaepernick played much better against the Redskins completing 62.5% of his passes for 235 yards and three touchdowns with 134.6 passer rating, but he’ll need to play even better in December, especially in three games left against division rivals, Seattle, Arizona and St. Louis who play much better defense than the Redskins do.
After two sub par weeks versus Carolina and New Orleans, Kaepernick found a way to be a lot more efficient on designed pass plays against Washington. He was sacked two times earlier on but later found his rhythm and completed five passes for over 20 yards. More advanced figures also show he improved compared to last two weeks with 7.8 yards gained per pass play. But again, it all came against bad Washington pass defense.
Kaepernick had success passing the ball on third down, he passed for almost 40% of his total passing yards on third down plays. Here’s a breakdown of all Kaepernick’s third down plays not only his pass attempts:
Colin Kaepernick was pressured on nine (30.0%) of his total drop backs and completed one short pass to F. Gore for three yards. He managed to escape the pressure and scramble five times, on two occasions he couldn’t avoid the pressure and had to take a sack.
Kaepernick attempted 24 and completed 15 passes, which leaves him with nine incompletions.
It took him a while, but Kaepernick did exploit Redskins’ pass defense as the game progressed and led the 49ers to an easy win in the end. The 49ers were successful finding favorable matchups which helped Kaepernick who, for the most part of the game, didn’t have problems finding open receivers. His longest completion was a pass to open TE Vernon Davis who continues to be Kaepernick’s favorite target along with WR A. Boldin. Those two are still the only players on a team who caught TD passes. Hopefully that will change as the season goes on, with Manningham seeing more action and with Crabtree and rookie Patton set to return soon. The 49ers will need the passing game against better competition on the schedule ahead.
Next for the 49ers is a game against the St. Louis Rams on a short week at Candlestick Park. The last time this two teams met was a Week 4 TNF game in which San Francisco ran for 200+ yards. Since then, the Rams have improved and are ranked ninth against the run according to Football Outsiders so Kaepernick will have to make plays passing the ball against St. Louis who allowed opposing quarterbacks to pass for 300+ yards with 80.1 passer rating in last couple of games.