Second straight win for the 49ers and Colin Kaepernick against division rival, this time it was Seattle who came in with 11-1 record. Colin Kaepernick didn’t play out-of-his-mind against the Seahawks, which was expected, playing against one of the best defenses in the NFL, but he did made some crucial plays which helped beat the Seahawks. Michael Crabtree’s presence was felt and even though he didn’t put up big numbers he did help San Francisco’s signal-caller in the passing game. Technically, the 49ers had 10 drives on offense, not counting one drive consisting of one kneel down play to end the game. With 10 drives the 49ers scored 19 points on offense, 1 TD and 4 FGs and had average starting field position at their own 31-yard line.
1st drive: Own 31, 12:44 left in the 1st qrt, score tied 0-0
F. Gore was stopped for no gain on the first play of the drive. Kaepernick then threw two passes, first one intended for M. Crabtree who couldn’t hold onto the ball, the second one on third down to M. Manningham was underthrown and the 49ers had to punt.
2nd drive: Own 39, 9:48 left in the 1st qrt, score tied 0-0
On the first play of the drive Kaepernick released the ball just in time with pressure coming to him, he hit B. Miller for seven yards on the play. Later on he connected with Boldin on timely pass for nine yards. After Gore got seven yards on run play it looked as if Kaepernick had Boldin open again, but his pass was tipped. On 2nd-and-10 Kaepernick found Crabtree who made a great catch for 17 yards, but Kaepernick had to throw the ball away on the next play. On 2nd-and-10 he ran with the ball. Officially the play went down as a scramble, but it was a designed run from shotgun formation, Kaepernick got nine yards and almost broke through for a touchdown. On 3rd-and-1 the 49ers gave the ball to B. Miller who was stuffed at the line for no gain. The 49ers had to settle for a FG.
3rd drive: Opp 34, 1:52 left in the 1st qrt, SF up 3-0
Great special teams play, blocked punt, gave the offense the ball on Seattle 34-yard line. F. Gore got four yards from pistol formation to start the drive. Kaepernick hit Crabtree on second down but the catch was ruled out-of-bounds. On third down Kaepernick was on target, but Manningham couldn’t catch the ball with good defensive play by CB J. Lane. The 49ers had to settle for another FG.
4th drive: Own 26, 12:17 left in the 2nd qrt, SF down 7-6
The 49ers ran on first three plays to get another set of downs. Kaepernick overthrew a pass intended for M. Manningham. Gore lost one yard on read-option play. Defensive holding on CB R. Sherman on third down made it 1st-and-10. Kaepernick hit wide open A. Boldin from play-action for 20 yards and ran for three yards on designed read-option run. On the next play, Kaepernick looked for Crabtree, the ball was a bit underthrown. There was interference on the play but the 49ers never saw a flag. Manningham was open on third down but the pass from Kaepernick was broken up by CB J. Lane. SF settled for third field goal of the game.
5th drive: Own 28, 3:47 left in the 2nd qrt, SF down 14-9
Kaepernick had to scramble and got two yards on first play. Defensive holding on the next play made it 1st-and-10 again. Later on it was false start penalty which made it 1st-and-15. Kaepernick found B. Miller for 11 yards. On 2nd-and-4 Kaepernick showed ability to avoid the pressure, extended the play and found A. Boldin who made a great catch for 27 yards. Kaepernick connected with V. Davis for 13 yards on a misdirection play. With 1st-and-goal play Kaepernick looked for Davis again who was covered and wisely decided to throw the ball away. Offensive pass interference on M. Crabtree pushed SF back to SEA 16 yard line. Gore got eight yards from shotgun formation, and Kaepernick delivered a bullet to V. Davis on third down for 8-yard touchdown.
6th drive: Own 18, 15:00 left in the 3rd qrt, SF up 16-14
Kaepernick overthrew a pass intended to B. Miller to start the second half. F. Gore then got eight yards, it was 3rd-and-2 and Kaepernick hit Crabtree on a short pass that resulted in 13 yard gain and a first down. Pressure forced Kaepernick to scramble, he ran for six yards. Gore got two, but Kaepernick lost seven yards on read-option run and the 49ers had to punt.
7th drive: Own 32, 7:35 left in the 3rd qrt, SF up 16-14
The 49ers moved the ball again on Seattle defense, Kaepernick completed passes to Boldin and Crabtree. F. Gore ran for 15 yards on 2nd-and-6. Kaepernick then hit Boldin for 18 yards to put the ball on SEA 20. Kaepernick’s next pass intended for M. Crabtree was underthrown and intercepted by CB B. Maxwell. It was the game’s first turnover.
8th drive: Own 47, 0:23 left in the 3rd qrt, SF up 16-14
Kaepernick was again off-target with his pass short intended for F. Gore who lost one yard on the next run play. On 3rd-and-11 Kaepernick couldn’t avoid the pressure and was sacked for a loss of 11 yards, it was 4th-and-22 and the 49ers had to punt.
9th drive: Own 13, 12:36 left in the 4th qrt, SF up 16-14
Kaepernick found open running lane and scrambled for eight yards on the first play of the drive. Hunter then ran for six yards, enough for a first down. With his next pass Kaepernick was off-target again as he underthrew a pass intended for A. Boldin. His next pass was a short one to B. Miller for three yards. On 3rd-and 7 Kaepernick showed ability to move around the pocket and extended the play, hit Boldin for 15 yards, but the play was nullified due to a penalty on A. Boone. With 3rd-and-17 the Seahawks brought pressure and Kaepernick had no chance and was sacked for the second time.
10th drive: Own 20, 6:20 left in the 4th qrt, SF down 17-16
Down by one point the 49ers needed to score and they had plenty of time to do so. Kaepernick threw only one pass, a 6-yard completion to M. Crabtree, but got eight yards on 3rd-and-7 play on designed QB sweep run from shotgun formation. Earlier on F. Gore ripped off a 51-yard run and intelligently stayed in-bounds to keep the clock running. Last eight plays of the drive were all run plays, the Seahawks had to burn all timeout and had little time left after P. Dawson kicked game-wining field goal from 22 yards.
Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers had 63 offensive plays in 10 drives (one kneel down by Kaepernick to end the game not included) and scored 1.9 points per drive. Kaepernick passed for 1 TD and was intercepted once when he underthrew a pass intended for M. Crabtree.
The 49ers continued to operate on offense with Kaepernick under center on majority of plays, just like they did in recent weeks. Compared to Week 2 game @ Seattle this was quite a change. Back then, Kaepernick lined up under center on 15.7%, this time on 70.3% of all offensive snaps, which is also the highest rate so far in the season. The 49ers used the pistol offense a lot less this time around, they ran only six plays from the pistol, five of those were run plays. Kaepernick ran for three and -7 yards on two of those run plays.
As expected Kaepernick didn’t reproduce his passing performance from previous two weeks on Sunday when he faced No. 1 pass defense (according to Football Outsiders). He completed just over 50% of his passes and was intercepted on a bad throw to M. Crabtree. But compared to Week 2 game, which was played in Seattle, he did do a better job passing the ball.
Official NFL gamebook has six scrambles by Kaepernick, but he actually scrambled only four times against Seattle on Sunday and was sacked twice for a loss of 20 yards. He finished with just 5.0 yards per pass play, well below his career average (7.2), and similar to Week 2 game in Seattle (4.9).
Kaepernick attempted only five passes on third downs. He completed two for 21 yards, one of them was a 8-yard TD pass to Vernon Davis. Both sacks came on third down plays and also two of his designed run plays. One of them maybe his best play recently when he ran for eight yards for a first down on 3rd-and-7 with 3:24 to play in the game. Here’s a breakdown of all Kaepernick’s third down plays:
Colin Kaepernick was pressured on 8 (22.9%) of his 35 total drop backs. He attempted 3 and completed 2 passes for 20 yards when under pressure. The rest of pressure plays resulted in sacks (2) and scrambles (3). As already mentioned Kaepernick scrambled 4 times, but 1 of those plays wasn’t the result of opponent’s pressure.
Kaepernick attempted 29 and completed 15 passes. He was intercepted once which leaves him with 13 incompletions. Here’s a breakdown of his incompletions (click on the image to enlarge).
Colin Kaepernick ran on a designed run play four times (kneel down play not included), three read-option runs and one QB sweep from shotgun formation – the play I already mentioned on 3rd-and-7 for eight yards which extended the drive late in the fourth quarter and helped bleed the clock and set up game-winning FG.
Just like many expected the game against the Seahawks shaped out to be a tough, physical battle between two similar teams. The Seahawks and the 49ers are the only two teams in the NFL which run the ball more than they pass and it wasn’t any different on Sunday as both teams’ running game was a huge part of the game plan. The 49ers won the battle of field position which was one of the reason they came out victorious. Kaepernick made fewer mistakes compared to first game against Seattle back in Week 2. He will be credited for his second 4th-quarter-comeback & game-winning-drive of the season as he led the 49ers to game-winning FG. The 49ers ran 10 plays on that drive (not counting FG attempt) and 8 of those 10 were designed run plays. Kaepernick opened the drive with 3-yard scramble followed by completed pass to M. Crabtree for six yards. From that point on it was all run plays, including Kaepernick’s 8-yard gain on 3rd-and-7.
Next for the 49ers is a trip to East coast for an early game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who’ve won four of last five games. The 4-9 Buccaneers are not what their record show, they came just short of beating the Seahawks in Seattle and will not be an easy task for the 49ers who will have to play on high level in order to get another win.