Kaepernick’s struggles may be affecting his confidence


Colin Kaepernick threw 218 passes last regular season, and has thrown 220 passes this regular season. The decline in his production over about the same number of passes has been significant.

Kaepernick’s completions have declined from 136 to 124, which translates to a decline in completion rate from 62.4 percent to 56.4 percent. His yardage has declined from 1,814 to 1,675, which means his yardage per pass has dropped from 8.3 to 7.6. He threw 10 touchdown passes last year to nine this year, his interceptions have doubled from three last year to six this year, he’s been sacked 21 times to 16 times last year, and his passer rating is down from 98.3 to 83.0. Kaepernick has also done less as a runner than he did last year, with his yards per carry average dropping from 6.6 to 5.8, his total rushing yardage dropping from 415 to 310, and his rushing touchdowns declining from five to three.

Add all those issues up, and it would be easy for a young quarterback’s confidence to be shaken. On ESPN’s NFL Matchup, Merril Hoge argued that that’s exactly what has happened. Hoge showed tape of Kaepernick appearing to hesitate when he needed to pull the trigger on passes, perhaps because he’s second-guessing himself. On the play on Sunday when Panthers safety Mike Mitchell sacked Kaepernick, Hoge showed that Kaepernick dropped back, looked in the direction of an open Vance McDonald, and then inexplicably held onto the ball and got sacked.

“That is a completion. The ball should be out. A confident player makes that throw,” Hoge said. “Colin Kaepernick does not. He holds onto the ball. He’s uncertain. He’s unsure.”

Hoge’s fellow analyst Ron Jaworski, who said before the season that Kaepernick could be one of the greatest quarterbacks ever, agreed with Hoge’s assessment. Jaworski added, however, that he expects Kaepernick to play better when the 49ers’ receivers are healthier.

“His receivers, as I look at the tape, are not doing a good job getting open,” Jaworski said. “They’re going to need to get Mario Manningham healthy and flying down the field, and you’re going to need to get Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis back healthy.”

The 49ers have to hope that Jaworski is right, and that an improved receiving corps will lead to improved play from Kaepernick. Right now, Kaepernick looks more like a young quarterback struggling to figure things out than a star on his way to being one of the greatest quarterbacks ever.

78 responses to “Kaepernick’s struggles may be affecting his confidence

  1. He could be one of the greatest QBs ever huh? It’s just that his WRs aren’t getting open, huh? Well guess what, if he really WAS a future HOFer All-Time-Great, he wouldn’t need his WRs to bail him out. Elite QBs still perform despite a lacking WR group. Elite QBs make their WRs look better.

    Maybe Kaepernick and Harbaugh should focus on football instead of making TV commercials.

  2. Hoge such a freaking know it all, anyhow it’s not out of the realm that the kids confidence is rocked somehow, but I think he will right the ship.

  3. Both things are tied together, and he never really had the right foundation to develop from in the first place with a solid support team to help him with his mental preparedness and I don’t think he has the right people that are helpful to him for the journey of trying to become the best ever or close to it. He has a lot more potential that the team can still find a way to tap into provided that they start to ask the right questions in order to get started.

    San Fran had a great opportunity to really dominate and take control of things with with they had and the juiced up draft pick collection, and I just don’t like what I’m seeing in the choices they made and the lack of working with Kaepernick in a way that translates more confidence to me when I review what he’s doing on the field.

  4. You mean he is not the second coming of Christ?

    What a difference time, reality and perspective make.

  5. Media build you up and the media knocks you down. He was never as great as they made him out to be. Same issues as his draft scouting report said about him. Athletic, rocket arm, not great touch, raw. He can get there. Despite what people who don’t live here say he actually does work very hard, does a lot for charity and is incredibly smart. Just not the cheerleader type leader that some other young qb’s are.

  6. This has gotten ridiculous. Let the kid play out his first full season as a starter. Again, he is 16-6.

  7. Don’t forget that Crabtree was a huge part of the offense last year. I would not be surprised to see his completion percentage increase with Manningham and Crabtree back.

  8. Maybe he should have gone to a QB camp instead of a speed school to train in the off season. Why would a QB go to a speed school anyway?? He should have Worked out with Roger Craig or Jerry Rice for durability and endurance if anything.

    I don’t get 49er players. They have all that wealth of knowledge from their past great players and don’t even access it.. Even Tom Brady had dinner with Joe Montana and picked his brain.

  9. And ESPN will call him an all-time great again the next time he has a good game. The only thing better than building someone up too soon is tearing them down too soon.

  10. Kaepernick will fail like most QBs who’s second option is to leave the pocket and run around. QBs like him use their “athleticism” to make players in lower levels of football, but it becomes a crutch at the NFL level. QBs who don’t have this kind of speed are forced early on to hang in there in the pocket and learn how to read defenses, and those are the ones who prosper in the NFL. SF can talk all they want about CK being a smart kid and being able to learn how to read defenses better. But, its actually too late. Learning on the fly doesn’t work in the NFL. You either have the skill set to read a D or you don’t. CK will experience the same fate as every other non-pocket QB: naked fingers. Meanwhile its the pocket passers who get their fingers sized up for SB rings every year

  11. This was easy to predict. I’m a huge Seahawks fan so I watch a lot of niners games hoping they lose. He doesn’t have the mentality to be great. On or off the field he just doesn’t have it. Out of all the young QB’s Luck and Wilson are the 2 that will be winners. If you don’t believe me you’re just not watching. Look at the tape look and at the numbers. Wilson has 17 tds and look at his numbers compared to other QB’s . If you look at his attempts and extrapolate them to what other QB’s have he’s comparable to everyone but manning. It’s not debatable.

  12. ESPN wasn’t only one. He was practically the face of the NFL. He was balling outta control trying to take Alex’s spot. This year though….not so much.

    My boy Terrell Pryor is balling harder than Kaepernick. Kaepernick reminds me of Jamarcus Russell in 2009.

  13. Hilarious how everyone wants to start hating on a guy as if it’s all his fault. Watch the film, pass protection has been miniscule at best and the receiving cite had been the same. With V D healthy they haven’t lost a game. Plus let us remember that he is still young and learning. He is not a vetrans QB. All these arm chair quarterbacks sitting around wishing they could have a fraction of Kaep’s talent

  14. As a Seahawks’ fan, Kaep’s struggles are a cause for short-term celebration.

    But I have a feeling that we haven’t seen the last of the “confident” Kaepernick who took the league by storm (well, with the exception of the Hawks, heh) late last year.

    This kid has too many tools, too good a coaching staff, and too much internal fortitude to stay down for long.

    But I won’t be too heartbroken if his “comeback” is delayed a few weeks.

  15. Well this was just a whole messy process from the get go because they did sort of back into Kaepernick as their QB. Before they drafted him they spent big money over many years on Alex Smith who they didn’t win with and couldn’t even figure out if they wanted him to be the guy, and fortunately they were at least able to salvage a halfway decent trade exit option for him at one point. But they used up a lot of time and money and they didn’t craft a clever plan to part away with Alex Smith from an early planning process, and that ended up seeing into affect the book and the timing and keeping Kaep on the sidelines while they dilly-dally with Smith some more despite not ending up keeping him, and at no point did Kaep ever get settled and grounded into a healthy and high oversight situation to ensure he develops properly.

    I had a Top 10 grade on Kaepernick before the draft and wrote quite a few pieces about him in various forums about why he was worth that kind of grade. But this kind of player I think you need to embrace with the right type of vision and deliver the support he needs, which is first in the mental and maturing phases of his foundation, and he should have almost literally had a dedicated coach and advisor hold his hand every step of the way and make sure he has a clean and healthy and competitive mind that is honed and focused for purposes of becoming a great NFL QB. And Kaep never got that from his team and he still isn’t getting it.

    I don’t care who the WRs are for this team. They all seem great to me. They all look like studs who have potential to make game-breaking plays and have been doing just that all their lives, they seem athletic and healthy and capable of running routes and catching footballs. There’s nothing wrong with the WRs that serves as any kind of excuse as to why the 49ers aren’t getting more out of Kaepernick.

  16. Last I checked, there is still 7 more weeks of regular season football left and we are 6-3….just sayin.

  17. He isn’t smart enough to read defenses.

    I’ll take a slow Brees, Brady, Manning anyway over these “mobile quarterbacks”.

    Running quarterbacks are so 1994.

  18. Gee..I mean, what receiver has he missed from last year that might account for 12 less completions, a couple less yards and a play maker? Hmmmmmmmmmmmm. C’mon. Really!

  19. The press said he’s the next great one not anybody else. The bicep kissing is for charity. look it up. he’s a rookie played in 20 or so games we will see.

  20. Said last year after the SB he had a lot to prove after such a limited time on the field. All the experts anointed him the second coming. I was happy fir his early success and couldn’t understand why he made such a big deal (trademark?) about the arm sniff after a big play. I was much more impressed with Luck and that guy in Seattle, Wilson or something. I don’t think SF has to worry they have a winning record despite the QB.

  21. He’s 16-6 as a starter he’s had a couple of bad games who cares. He’s still learning. Alex Smith has done zero, have you watched his games!! If they (The Chiefs) had the schedule that the Niners do there probably three losses as well if not more.

    Niners probably lose this weekend rip through the rest of the schedule finished 11 and 5, lose the NFC championship game in Seattle come back stronger and scarier next year.. Gore and Lattimore… look out!

  22. Not to take all the blame away from kap maybe he’s losing confidence In his receivers as well. I mean I wouldn’t pull the trigger on a wide open Vance MacDonald either. That kid had a chance to win the game when Kap tossed him a beauty down the middle. In field goal range with a one point game. Everyone has to take blame. Everyone has to go out and earn their check. Also kap wasn’t out their making no effort to bring down deangelo on the TD. That’s on Carlos Rogers, among others.

  23. With all his physical attributes; height, arm strength, speed, etc. There’s probably a reason he ended up at the U of Nevada. Not that great qbs can’t come from small schools its just the fact that he has so many qualities college scouts look for, there must be a reason major colleges passed on him.

  24. @the strategyexpert:
    Wow, man. It won’t be long before some team hires you as it’s GM. If you need a “yes man”, an assistant, or a sidekick, take me with you!

  25. I hate when paid analyst don’t just fess up and say “I thought he could be one of the best but the way he is playing in wrong” instead Jaws blames the receivers and play calling. Week 1 without Crabtree he was a phenom, once they figured out to play man coverage versus Boldin it all changed.

  26. You’ve all got it wrong. He simply ran out of room for new tats, and its got him depressed. He gets some skin grafts and he’ll be as good as new.

  27. It’s happened to many a good player – if you don’t keep your head on straight, it can be the ruination of your career.

  28. Skins fan here. Just perusing the comments to laugh at other teams fans hating on their rivals. Cant wait to see how “Russell Wilson was just a lucky flash in the pan and to small to be effective” when he has a bad game and their next Loss. God forbid Andrew Luck loses in the playoffs this year, he will be a “Fraud clone of peyton manning that cant win in the playoffs, and not the leader we thought”. haha, you haters crack me up

  29. “The press said he’s the next great one not anybody else. The bicep kissing is for charity. look it up. he’s a rookie played in 20 or so games we will see.”
    He’s not a rookie. This is his 3rd year. “look it up”.

  30. The only things affecting Kaepernick’s confidence is that his O line is only giving him 2 seconds before he gets mugged by the pass rush and the WR’s are not good enough to get separation and the Offensive Coordinator doesn’t have a clue how to scheme to get mediocre WR’s open.(and the OC’s playcalling really sucks big time too !!!).
    Kap is confident in HIS abilities but those around him are letting him down and he is now getting antsy in the pocket because of the constant pressure from the pass rush.

  31. …Oh,bye the way, Kap has had an average QB rating of over 100 in the last 5 games, not including the last game which was a bad performance against the Panthers.

  32. stlunatik says:
    Nov 16, 2013 2:46 PM
    Could all the ink be weighing him down? hmm
    I’m a niner fan but I found this funny. The rest of the snide comments – keep ’em coming, nothing written here is going to determine his success or failure.

  33. Said it before…I’ll say it again…the kid is NOT an NFL quality QB. marginal back-up.

    But then he’s being managed by Harbaugh…also NOT an NFL quality coach. Did okay last year with a team built by Singletary, and a pile of wins left him by Smith, but now…nah…not so much.

  34. The big problem with Kap is he’s just not that intelligent. Just listen to him in an interview.

    The very best NFL QBs, who have long careers, have two unique traits.

    1 – They are intelligent
    2 – They are hard workers

    Kap is neither.

  35. Kaepernick had a very high wonderlic score -37. Same as Luck and much higher than Wilson.

    He threw an on the money pass to the rookie tight end in the Carolina game to set them up for a game winning field goal. Dude dropped it. Also, they were driving for a game winning score and Kendall Hunter fumbled. It was a team loss. Kaepernick will be fine.

    BTW, Alex Smith, however good he is now, completely sucked for 6 years before he did anything. I think trading Smith for two second round picks and off loading his salary was brilliant. Kaepernick’s played 16 regular season games, which included two playoff wins. I am ok with giving Kaepernick 1/3 the amount of time Smith got to “figure it out”. People need to chill out.

  36. How can any QB be confident with John Baldwin as the #2 and Bruce Miller the #3 receiving options?

    Seriously, give the kid someone to throw to and then watch what happens.

    Through 16 career starts Kaep: 3524 PassYd, 59% comp., 19 TD, 9 INT, 90.5 Rat, 723 RushYd, 8 TD.
    Those aren’t bad numbers for someone so early in their career.
    (Drew Brees 3284 yd, 60%, 17 TD, 16 INT, 76.9 Rat)

    Gain some context and move on.

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