49ers: Colin Kaepernick played, but the defense failed to show up.

The 49ers’ offense with Colin Kaepernick at the helm, once again was unable to score enough points to overcome the opposition; and the defense made it easy for the Buffalo Bills to move up and down the field, almost at will.  San Francisco loses, 45-16, and drops to 1-5 on the season.

 

The headlines of the week leading up to today’s game were all about the return of Colin Kaepernick as the 49ers’ starting quarterback; but the actual story became this stat: Buffalo amassed 312 yards rushing on just 44 carries (at 7.1 yards per carry average). And if that figure isn’t bad enough, that rushing total was twelve yards more than the total offensive output by San Francisco (300 yards).

The offense, led by Kaepernick, could only be described once again as adequate, at best. Kaepernick’s passing numbers were 13 of 29 for 187 yards and a completion percentage of 44.8. Although the net passing yardage was actually 167 yards, due to a loss of 20 yards on three sacks. Via, ESPN.com.

So, he finished three yards shy of the 49ers’ season average of 170 yards per game.  There were only two real pluses in Kaepernick’s performance when compared to that of Blaine Gabbert – he didn’t throw any interceptions, and he targeted Torrey Smith seven times, once for the only San Francisco touchdown.  Speaking of that touchdown, it is also important to note that it, along with a number of other passes, was under-thrown; the touchdown not due to Kaepernick’s throw, but to Torrey Smith’s ability to come back to catch the low-thrown ball and evade the defense for the score.  A fair assessment of Kaepernick’s performance shows that he was rusty and not yet entirely comfortable with the offense system.

But, let’s get back to the real story – the fact that the 49ers’ defense, especially in run scenarios, completely failed.  Though supporting statistics are not available at the time of this article’s posting, the defense missed far too many tackles and failed to maintain outside containment throughout the game, allowing not only the 312 yards rushing, but also 491 total yards of offense by the Bills.

The pass defense was actually better this week, as the Bills only had 179 yards in the air, as compared to the 222.8 passing yards allowed per game average for the 49ers’ defense.  That, of course, is due mainly to the fact that Buffalo didn’t need to pass as often, given the success of their running game.

It was the hope of many fans, as well as the speculation of some prognosticators that the insertion of Colin Kaepernick into the starting role would ignite a lackluster offense, giving the 49ers the opportunity to secure a victory.  However, that proved not to be the case; as per my pre-game analysis of Chip Kelly’s offensive system not being NFL-worthy recently on Niners Live, it is not the play of the quarterback that is to blame for the 49ers’ losses, it is the reality that this offensive system is not NFL-worthy.

Yes, the defense played very poorly; and no, the insertion of Kaepernick into the starting role did not prove to be beneficial; the fact of the matter is that the offensive system designed by Chip Kelly does not provide the appropriate level of sophistication required to be successful in the NFL.  This claim is substantiated by the fact that the total time of possession in today’s game was just 24:49, one minute less than the team’s seasonal average.  Two other key statistics are that the 49ers were only in the red zone twice, failing to score either time; and, that all of their points, other than the one TD, came off Phil Dawson’s foot, as he went 3 for 3 in field goal attempts, averaging 42.7 yards per kick.

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

Success in the NFL is based on victories, and victories come only when your team outscores the opponent more often than not.  The San Francisco 49ers are not currently viewed as a successful team, not will they be in the future, as long as they continue to employ Chip Kelly’s college-level offense system.

Changes need to happen, and they need to happen quickly; or, this is going to be a very long and painful season for San Francisco’s loyal and faithful fans.

All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus,49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated.  Steve Weston, Staff Writer , Editor Niners Live.