49ers: Assessing the Play of Quarterback Colin Kaepernick

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started his first game of the season against the Buffalo Bills this past Sunday, a game that saw the 49ers fall 45 to 16. However, Niners Live would like to take a moment of your time to break down his performance against the Bills and how he fared in Chip Kelly’s offense.


Colin Kaepernick’s overall statistics were as followed; he completed 13 of 29 for 187 yards at a completion percentage of 44.8 and one touchdown, while also adding 66 yards on eight carries. Via, ESPN.com. After watching the coaches’ film, there were several drops by receivers.  He did show rust on some of his throws, but he showed improved awareness in the pocket and seemed more comfortable reading the defense.

Kaepernick avoided the rush most of the time by sliding his feet and climbing the pocket. (Sacked once from behind and fumbled, not lost)  He kept his eyes downfield looking for a receiver to get open. He was decisive when he decided to run and was responsible for 11 of the teams 16 first downs. He also accounted for the team’s longest run with a 29-yard scramble.

Kaepernick overthrew four passes that could have been first downs for a touchdown.  He missed high, which means that it can be cleaned up or corrected in practice potentially.  He also fired short on a couple of passes; that can be attributed to not setting his feet after avoiding traffic, and it seemed to be on some of his throws he was trying to put too much touch on it, and the ball ends up falling short.

This leads me into the physical comparison from the 2012-2013 version of Kaepernick. Has he lost a step or two? Yes, but he still has enough speed to be a running threat. He showed good strength when he shed a would be safety tackle and ran for a first down. Kaep’s arm still has great velocity, and it’s encouraging to see that he has come a long way on developing touch passes, rather than fast balling all of his throws as he did early in his career.

Kaepernick looks comfortable in Kelly’s offense, as he should since he has played in a shotgun offense dating back to his college days in the Pistol offense at Nevada.  In the second half of the game, the Bills dropped more players into coverage.  This lead to Kaepernick throwing into smaller windows, which lead to the incompletions. It was encouraging that Kaep looked to throw downfield, which result in Torrey Smith leading the team in receiving yards,76, for the first times this season.  The offense didn’t do a good job in the red zone, settling for three goals.

It’s important to note: The 49ers were 3 for 13 on third down, only ran 60 plays to Buffalo’s 75,  were 0-2 on 4th down and 0 for 2 in the red zone. And the Bills time of possession was 35:11 to the 49ers to 24:49.

In conclusion.  Kaepernick must be accurate consistently moving forward, his first game back was okay, and there is vast room for improvement.  He showed that he can still be dangerous with his feet and is working on becoming a better passer in the pocket.  The following games will give us a better assessment of what he can really do in this offense and realistic expectation of what level of  quarterback play we can expect from Kaepernick.

Bonus Niner Notes: Head coach Chip Kelly announce Kaepernick will start versus the Tampa Bay Bucks.

All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus,49ers.com, ESPN.com , NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author Jimi Payne.  Editor Niners Live.