The 49ers finished the regular season with a 12-4 record, good enough for a fifth spot in the NFC playoffs. San Francisco was able to move the ball on Arizona’s stout defense early in the game and jumped to a 17-0 first quarter lead. Colin Kaepernick had another 100+ passer rating game, but it was kicker P. Dawson who sealed the win for the 49ers in the fourth quarter with a couple of long field goals. The 49ers had a total of 13 drives and scored 23 points on offense, 2 TDs and 3 FGs.
1st drive: Own 38, 13:32 left in the 1st qrt, score tied 0-0
The 49ers came out and surprised the Cardinals with the play calling in their first offensive series. A. Boldin was a big part of the drive, he caught first two short Kaepernick’s passes, both behind LOS and gained eight yards on both plays. The 49ers used Boldin and later Q. Patton on back-to-back reverse plays gaining 11 and 26 yards to move into redzone. San Francisco seemed to have another perfect play on a 1st-and-goal from ARI 8-yard line. Kaepernick couldn’t connect with V. Davis who dropped the ball in the endzone. Two more incompletions and the 49ers were forced to kick a field goal.
2nd drive: Opp 22, 9:48 left in the 1st qrt, SF up 3-0
Great field position for the offense after N. Bowman’s interception. Kaepernick overthrew a pass intended to TE Celek on the first play. False start penalty on A. Boone made it 2nd-and-15. With that Kaepernick went with Boldin again, for 21 yards and a first down. F. Gore gained two yards on first down, but Kaepernick had to throw the ball away on second down with heavy pressure from Arizona. On third down the 49ers ran a similar play than the one on which Kaepernick couldn’t connect with Davis in the previous drive. This time it was Boldin who was able to hold onto the ball for a 4-yard touchdown catch.
3rd drive: Own 28, 3:15 left in the 2nd qrt, SF up 10-0
Kaepernick was facing 3rd-and-4 and looked for reliable target again on the critical down, he connected with Boldin for 63 yards, 60 of those came after the catch. With play-action play from ARI 3-yard line Kaepernick found open V. Davis in the endzone for second touchdown pass.
4th drive: Own 43, 14:50 left in the 2nd qrt, SF up 17-0
Kaepernick was off-target with his first two passes of this drive and had to scramble under pressure on 3rd-and-10. He gained four yards not enough for another first down. The 49ers had to punt.
5th drive: Own 46, 12:40 left in the 2nd qrt, SF up 17-0
First two run plays gained nine yards then on third down F. Gore lost five yards and the 49ers had to punt again.
6th drive: Own 20, 4:46 left in the 2nd qrt, SF up 17-7
The 49ers went back to short passes in this drive, Kaepernick completed passes to Crabtree, Dixon and one pass also to LT J. Staley. With a 14-yard pass play to Staley the 49ers moved in to the redzone again. Crabtree then gained 13 yards to earn another set of downs. With the ball on ARI 3-yard line the 49ers somehow came out empty-handed. F. Gore lost three yards on 1st-and-goal and Kaepernick couldn’t complete a pass on the next two pass plays, the third down pass was deflected at the line of scrimmage. P. Dawson’s 24-yard field goal was no good.
7th drive: Own 26, 15:00 left in the 3rd qrt, SF up 17-7
The first drive of the second half ended with a punt for the 49ers. Kaepernick gained 14 yards on designed naked bootleg run, but after that play the 49ers didn’t get enough yards to move the sticks. Punt time again.
8th drive: Opp 37, 11:35 left in the 3rd qrt, SF up 17-7
Kaepernick started the drive with a 12-yard completion to RB James. F. Gore gained four yards on the next two plays, on third down Kaepernick completed a pass to Q. Patton for five yards just short of a first down. On 4th-and-1 the 49ers tried to get past the first down marker, but A. Dixon was stopped short of a first down and the 49ers turned the ball on downs.
9th drive: Own 36, 6:04 left in the 3rd qrt, SF up 17-7
On another critical down, this time 3rd-and-1, the 49ers went with A. Dixon again. This time he lost five yards on the play and the 49ers had to punt from their own 40-yard line.
10th drive: Own 20, 14:47 left in the 4th qrt, SF up 17-10
Kaepernick had wide open V. Davis, the two connected for 26 yards on the first play of this drive. On the next play Kaepernick kept the ball on read-option play and gained a yard. The pressure got to Kaepernick on the next play, he lost five yards. Facing 3rd-and-long Kaepernick completed a pass to Boldin for eight yards, well short of a first down. A. Lee had to punt again.
11th drive: Own 33, 7:39 left in the 4th qrt, SF up 17-10
The Cardinals put pressure on Kaepernick on this drive, first he took a sack and lost 13 yards on the play, later on, facing 3rd-and-18, he scrambled not allowing the pressure to get to him, but he got only five yards. A. Lee with another punt for the 49ers.
12th drive: Own 21, 3:20 left in the 4th qrt, score tied 17-17
With a game tied 17-17 the 49ers finally got something going on offense. The mixture of short passes and runs from F. Gore and K. Hunter moved the 49ers inside Arizona territory. It was 3rd-and-2 on ARI 38-yard line and Kaepernick tried to connect with Q. Patton on a short pass. The pass was well defended, incomplete and the 49ers decided to kick a FG , P. Dawson made a 56-yard FG.
13th drive: Own 38, 0:29 left in the 4th qrt, score tied 20-20
Arizona came back on offense and tied the game again and left only 29 seconds on the clock. RB James made a great return and put the 49ers on SF 36-yard line. The 49ers didn’t waste any time and with two passes moved quickly to ARI 22. The first pass was 18-yard connection to Boldin, the second one even more impressive to Q. Patton who made great catch to set up P. Dawson’s game-winning FG.
Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers had 59 offensive plays in 13 drives and scored 1.8 points per drive. Kaepernick passed for two touchdowns and didn’t turn the ball over for the third straight week.
Kaepernick lined up under center on 55.9% of all offensive plays. That’s a bit down compared to recent weeks, but still a lot higher rate compared to Green Bay game (25.3%) back in Week 1. The 49ers ran only six plays from the pistol on Sunday against the Cardinals, two of them were run plays, Kaepernick ran on designed read-option play on one of those two plays.
Kaepernick had another 100+ passer rating game, that’s the sixth time in the last seven games that he ended with passer rating over 100. Against Arizona he threw four passes behind line of scrimmage. Those passes are rare in the 49ers offense, but the 49ers found great success with those kind of screen passes to wide receivers against Arizona. So the season-high 53.5% of YAC shouldn’t come as a surprise.
All together Kaepernick was solid passing the ball against one of the best pass defenses in the league. He scrambled two times for nine yards and was sacked also two times for a loss of 18 yards. He finished with 7.9 yards per pass play.
Kaepernick attempted nine passes on third downs and completed five of them for 91 yards and 1 TD.
Colin Kaepernick was pressured on nine (23.7%) of his 38 total dropbacks, based on my count. He attempted six and completed three passes for 41 yards when under pressure. The rest of the pressure plays resulted in sacks (2) and 1 scramble. The other scramble play wasn’t the result of opponent’s pressure.
Kaepernick attempted 34 and completed 21 passes which leaves him with 13 incompletions. Two of those incompletions were batted down/deflected passes. Here’s a breakdown of his incompletions (click on the image to enlarge).
In 2013, Colin Kaepernick played in his first full NFL regular season. After his career-high 412 yards passing performance in Week 1 against Green Bay he struggled the rest of the way with an average of 186 passing yards. Consequently the 49ers turned to its power running game and helped Kaepernick with schemes that produced favorable matchups, especially for TE V. Davis who is considered as 49ers’ only deep threat receiver. Unfortunately, the 49ers had to put FB B. Miller and WR M. Manningham on IR, but the return of WR Michael Crabtree did make a difference as far as Kaepernick’s passing game is concerned. Crabtree didn’t put up big numbers against the Cardinals, but with him in the game others will have opportunities. On Sunday it was Boldin who had big day receiving. Personally, I liked the fact that rookie Q. Patton was involved in the game, I think he could become another target in the passing game for Colin Kaepernick who will be credited for his third Game-winning drive of the season and it came with a big help from rookie wide receiver.
Next for the 49ers is a trip to Green Bay, Wisconsin for a Wild Card NFC playoff game against the Packers. The last time this two teams met was Week 1 game in San Francisco in which Kaepernick passed for 3 TDs. The rematch will be played in Green Bay so it will be different kind of game, with temperatures probably well below freezing. In order to win the 49ers will have to: a) put pressure on A. Rodgers and b) have success with their power running game.