Does San Francisco 49ers quarterback Collin Kaepernick have enough touch on his passes? Or, did Kaepernick never have that ability begin with?
Kaepernick does not have a pass completion of more than 17 yards in the last two games. The pressure is mounting on this incredible athlete to demonstrate his quarterbacking ability for a full season.
The 26-year-old’s numbers this year are way down. He has completed just 56.2 percent of his passes (he completed 62.4 last year), and his quarterback rating of 81.8 is much lower than his rating of 98.3 from last season.
Was Kaepernick’s journey to the Super Bowl last season after replacing Alex Smith as the starting quarterback in mid-season just about catching lightning in a bottle?
Coach Jim Harbaugh thought for sure that Kaepernick was his quarterback of the future. He put his coaching reputation on the line and it worked out last season until the 49ers lost in the Super Bowl to the Baltimore Ravens.
I’ve written on whether trading Alex Smith was a bad move. In that article, after one poor game by Kaepernick earlier in the season, I wondered what is happening with all the read-option plays that became so popular last season.
Last week, ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer pointed out Kaepernick’s weakness reading defenses and making his progressions.
Kaepernick has gifted players to throw to, including Frank Gore out of the backfield, All-Pro tight end Vernon Davis and receivers Mario Manningham and Anquan Boldin.
I would disagree with Dilfer slightly in his critique. I believe Dilfer is correct in analyzing Kaepernick’s problems making progressions, but that is probably the hardest skill for any quarterback to achieve.
I believe Kaepernick’s main problem is his lack of touch when throwing the ball. He often doesn’t deliver balls in the right spot at the right time. I think he got away with it last season because he was able to disguise the problem with his read-option ability.
Kaepernick made some longer connections down-field last season and this season, but for shorter yardage throws or timing routes, his doesn’t deliver the ball accurately enough and his throws don’t have the velocity most receivers are expecting. I believe teams are keying in on this and taking away deep routes and forcing him to beat them other ways.
Kaepernick has an unorthodox delivery. That isn’t an issue for Alex Smith, as his delivery is stellar, like a Drew Brees.
Kaepernick is still a work in progress. At this point in the season, a work in progress is not good enough and doesn’t give fans a lot of hope. Without as many read-option plays installed in the team’s game plans, it may be up in the air as to whether Kaepernick can get back to the groove he was in last season.
The 49ers are currently 6-4 and hold the tiebreaker for the NFC’s final playoff spot. Unless Kaepernick improves, last year’s NFC champions may be at home in January.
Howard Alperin is Managing Editor of AmericanizeSoccer.com