Colin Kaepernick is the face of the San Francisco 49ers franchise and one of main faces of the NFL. Despite a somewhat disappointing 2014 season, Kaepernick still ranked second in NFL merchandise sales, behind just Super Bowl champion Tom Brady. Kaepernick is an intriguing, appealing quarterback and has definitely been a draw for the 49ers organization.
Despite this attention surrounding Kaepernick, he enters the 2015 season having to prove himself. He has done this before, as he overcame adversity to unseat Alex Smith as the starting quarterback in the 2012 season, but this time around, he will have to prove that he has grown as a quarterback and as a leader.
This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.
Many NFL teams claim that they have the best fans in the NFL. There isn’t one way to measure this claim. The San Francisco 49ers have always had a loyal, committed, diehard fanbase, so 49ers fans could easily be put in the conversation of best fans in the NFL.
The Seattle Seahawks seem to believe that the noise that their fans produce make them the best fans in the NFL. Seahawks fans in attendance of any home game in Seattle are collectively known as the “12th Man.”
There are several reasons why CenturyLink Field in Seattle is such a loud atmosphere. First of all, the architecture of the building lends itself to producing a lot of noise. Stadium architect David Murphy told Hank Gola of the New York Daily News that the Seahawks management hoped to create the same loud, disruptive atmosphere at CenturyLink Field that they had in their previous arena, the Kingdome or the Thunderdome.
“We had the legacy of the Kingdome, and while there were a lot of things that we were working to improve on that building, there were a number of things they held dear,” Murphy says. “The noise and the home-field advantage was one of them. So we worked real hard to get fans on top of the action. And then (Seahawks owner) Paul Allen had very fond memories of going into (the University of Washington’s) Husky Stadium as a kid and encouraged us at some of our first meetings to go out there and look at what made Husky special. He wanted to make sure the fans were covered. At first he wanted natural grass so he wanted an open roof. As we started looking at it, what makes it loud is that roof.”
Second of all, the fans produce a lot of the noise themselves. The fans start screaming and booing once the opposing offense heads into a huddle, and they don’t stop until the play is done. Then, they start up again at the next huddle or when the offense lines up again.
The 12th Man produces so much noise that they even set a Guinness World Record for crowd noise. On December 2nd, the 68,387 fans in attendance of the Seahawks’ nationally televised game against the New Orleans Saints notched a record-setting noise level of 137.6 decibels.
NFL teams know they have to prepare for the intensity and noise in Seattle. Teams have tried using several different techniques to make the noise less of an issue. Some teams have given their offense custom-made earplugs. Some teams have created different hand signals that their offense can use. Some teams use big, booming speakers in practice to simulate the crowd noise.
No matter what tactic the 49ers decide to use in order to prepare for their matchup with the Seahawks in the NFC Championship on Sunday, the 49ers know they will have to find a way to adjust to the 12th Man.
In the 49ers’ past two meetings with the Seahawks in Seattle, they’ve played some of their worst football. On December 23, 2012, the 49ers lost to the Seahawks 42-13. Kaepernick was clearly overwhelmed by the crowd noise, because he looked flustered for much of the game. He finished 19 of 36 for 244 yards with one touchdown and one costly interception.
In their most recent game in Seattle on September 15, 2013, the 49ers again lost to the Seahawks 29-3. In this game, Kaepernick appeared even more flustered than in the first game.
He finished 13 of 28 for 127 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions. This was his worst passing game as a starter. He finished with a total QBR of 14.0, which is the lowest total QBR in any start in his career.
In these two games, Kaepernick clearly struggled immensely, mostly because of the crowd noise. The 12th Man’s noise has made him flustered and disorganized, and the 49ers can’t afford to have him play that way on Sunday.
Normally, Kaepernick plays well on the road. In his career, he has a 92.3 quarterback rating and a 59.38 completion percentage on the road. He’s shown that he can play in freezing temperatures, in the rain, etc. He’s yet to prove that he can play well in front of the 12th Man though. The 49ers will only go as far as Kaepernick can take them.
The 49ers are currently on an eight-game winning streak, so they certainly have momentum going into this tough road game. They are also 8-2 on the road this season, including the playoffs. The 49ers haven’t had trouble away from Candlestick this season, but Seattle is a whole other beast.
The 12th Man is certainly a factor in this week’s NFC Championship game between Seattle and San Francisco. The 49ers will have to overcome record-setting noise levels on Sunday, but they still might be able to pull off a win.
This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.
The San Francisco 49ers had a rocky start to their season, but, since then, they’ve won three games in a row. Colin Kaepernick has also had a rocky start to his season so far. He hasn’t been his dominant self recently, so should 49ers fans lower their expectations for Kaepernick? Let’s first look at his season so far.
In the first game of the season against the Packers, Kaepernick dominated and played at an elite level. He showed off his strong, accurate arm and threw for a career-high 412 yards and had three touchdowns. He had an 89.8 QBR for that game. He also started to show off his chemistry with Anquan Boldin. He completed 13 passes to Boldin, and Boldin capped off his incredible 49er debut with 208 yards.
After this memorable performance, Kaepernick hasn’t showed off his dominance in quite the same way. Over the next five games of the 49ers season, he’s had some flashes of brilliance on a well-executed run play or a few long completed passes, but he hasn’t had quite that spark that he had against the Packers or last season in his many breakout performances.
First of all, he hasn’t had as much success running the ball as he had last season. In 13 games last season, Kaepernick ran for 415 yards on 63 attempts and had five touchdowns. In six games so far this season, he’s run for 172 yards on 31 attempts.
Part of the reason why he hasn’t been as successful with the run is because the read-option has been ineffective for the 49ers so far. Ever since the recent emergence of several freakishly athletic quarterbacks, every NFL team has been finding ways to stop it or at least limit the damage that the read-option can create. The Packers prepared for the read-option by forcing Kaepernick to pass, which ultimately ended up hurting them.
The 49ers, as a team, utilized more running plays this past Sunday against the Cardinals, but Kaepernick only ran it four times for 18 yards. As expected, teams now know and have more footage on Kaepernick’s ability to use his legs and run for large gains. In preparing for this, they have temporarily slowed Kaepernick’s running game, but Kaepernick will find a way to rebound and adjust. He has immense drive and determination, and he has great instincts on the field.
In addition to his struggles running the ball, Kaepernick hasn’t put up flashy numbers in terms of his passing. As mentioned before, he has developed some chemistry with Boldin and has also further developed his chemistry with Vernon Davis. However, he’s still having trouble finding open receivers.
Kaepernick’s completion percentage this season is 55.9 percent, which is down from 62.4 percent from last season. His QBR this season is 56.04, which is also down from 72.2 from last season. Kaepernick’s current QBR ranks 12th in the NFL, and his QBR last season ranked sixth in the NFL.
Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree’s absence have surely been felt, especially by Kaepernick. Not only did Crabtree have a breakout season last year, but his presence alongside other beasts such as Davis and Boldin would give Kaepernick more of a chance to find one of them open. It would also allow him the room to run it himself and take advantage of a more open field. Once Manningham and Crabtree come back, Kaepernick will certainly put up much more impressive passing numbers.
Kaepernick and the 49ers are only six games into the season, so no serious judgements or statements can be made for the whole season. However, since his numbers aren’t as flashy this year, should we lower expectations for Kaepernick?
On one side, it might make sense to lower expectations for Kaepernick, because he’s had to become more of a game manager. Instead of being a serious threat on offense with his arm and his legs, he’s had to adjust to managing the game more and ensuring the team follows the game plan.
In a way, over these first six games, he’s looked like Alex Smith, who was always called more of a game manager than an elite, authoritative quarterback. Kaepernick has adapted his game to more of that type of role, because he hasn’t had the receivers to support him being more of a passer or to give him more room to run.
However, Kaepernick still only has 13 total starts under his belt, from this season and last season. He hasn’t even started a full NFL season yet, so it wouldn’t be fair to change any expectations or goals for him. Kaepernick still has an immense amount of potential, and fans will have to be patient with him. He’s on a learning curve, but he still has the potential to become an elite quarterback in the NFL.
This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.
In just 10 starts for the San Francisco 49ers last season, Colin Kaepernick proved to be one of the most intriguing, electrifying quarterbacks in the NFL. Last season, Kaepernick had 1,814 yards, 415 rush yards, 10 pass touchdowns, five rush touchdowns, three interceptions, a 62.4 completion percentage, and a 72.2 QB rating. His prorated stats for last season would’ve been 3,675 pass yards, 544 rush yards, 23 pass touchdowns, and five rush touchdowns.
Kaepernick has enormous potential. He’s become one of the best quarterbacks in the NFC because of his incredible speed, his strong, accurate arm, his great instincts, his athleticism, and his high football IQ. Will Kaepernick be able to convert his tremendous run last season into a full season of stellar play, though?
Kaepernick is an extremely hard worker, and he will prove that his dominance last season wasn’t a fluke. He’ll keep improving, and he’ll have a solid 2013 season.
This season, Kaepernick will pass for about 3,750 yards and rush for about 610 yards. One of Kaepernick’s favorite targets last season, Michael Crabtree, is out for the majority of the season after having surgery on a torn Achilles. In addition to Crabtree’s injury, Mario Manningham is also out rehabbing an ACL and PCL injury. Because of this, Kaepernick will have to rely more on his feet than his arm at times. He will increase his rushing yards this year, despite the belief that defenses will now know how to stop him. He is just too agile and too quick to stop at times, so he will have plenty of opportunities to show off his running ability.
Kaepernick will still have a solid passing year though. He has started to build some chemistry with Vernon Davis, and Anquan Boldin will certainly be a significant contributor with Crabtree out. Kaepernick also appeared to be developing some chemistry with Quinton Patton in the preseason. Although Patton is just a rookie, he had an impressive preseason, so he could potentially become another reliable target for Kaepernick this season.
This season, Kaepernick will throw 22 touchdowns and rush for eight touchdowns. He will also throw 10 interceptions too. As mentioned before, Kaepernick’s options for receivers will be slightly more limited this season than last season. Because of this, the number of passing touchdowns he has this season will most likely be lower than his pro-rated stats last season. In addition, defenses will do more to disrupt Kaepernick in the read-option, since he’s proven to be strong in that type of offense. Despite his accurate arm, this could lead to more interceptions.
Also mentioned before, Kaepernick will have to rely on his rushing more this season. Although this is potentially more dangerous for a quarterback, Kaepernick is explosive and will be able to adjust to whatever a defense throws at him. As he said recently, he’s seen just about every type of defense that attempts to limit his running. He’s ready for physical defense and brutal hits.
“It’s football. You’re going to get hit,” Kaepernick said when asked about hits on quaterbacks on read-option plays.
This season, Kaepernick will have a 61.6 completion percentage and a 74 QB rating. He flourishes in the read-option, and he has an accurate and powerful arm. However, his completion percentage might decrease slightly with Crabtree out.
The QB rating measures a quarterback’s throws and what their performance means to the team’s win or loss on a scale of 0-to-100. It considers what a certain play means to a team and what the quarterback did to contribute to that play. Kaepernick’s QB rating of 72.2 last season ranked sixth in the NFL. This season, his QB rating will improve to 74 because he will have an even larger impact on wins than last season. With several receiving weapons around him last season, he can rely on his receivers more for first downs. This season, expect Kaepernick to take the ball himself more and impact the result of the game more.
Projected stat line for Colin Kaepernick this season: 3,750 yards, 610 rush yards, 22 touchdowns, eight rush touchdowns, 10 interceptions, a 61.6 completion percentage, and a 74 QB rating.