Sunday, November 17, 2013
Has Collin Kaepernick Lost His Touch?
Kaepernick does not have a pass completion for more than 17 yards in two straight games.
The pressure is mounting on this complete athlete to demonstrate his quarterbacking ability for a full season.
Was Kaepernick's magical journey to the Super Bowl last season with the San Francisco 49ers after replacing Alex Smith in mid-season as the starting quarterback just about catching lightning in a bottle?
Coach Jim Harbaugh thought for sure that Kaepernick was the quarterback of the future. He put his coaching reputation on it and it worked out until losing the Super Bowl.
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, former Super Bowl winning quarterback, Trent Dilfer, an analyst with ESPN, made a pretty big deal in pointing out Kaepernick's weakness to read the defense and make his progressions on who may be open to pass to.
Kaepernick has gifted players to throw to, including Frank Gore out of the backfield, Vernon Davis an all-pro Tight End, Mario Manningham and Anquan Boldin, both Super Bowl winning wide receivers.
I would disagree with Dilfer slightly in his overall critique. I believe Dilfer is correct in analyzing Kaepernick's ability making the progressions, but this is probably the hardest skill for any quarterback to achieve.
I believe that Kaepernick's main problem is his throwing touch. The ball is not delivered to his receivers conveniently. I think he got away with the problem last season because he was able to disguise the problem with his read-option ability.
Kaepernick has made some longer connections down field last season and this season, but for shorter yardage throws or timing routes, his throws are not delivered accurately enough and don't have the velocity most receivers are expecting. I believe teams are keying in on this and taking away the long ball routes and forcing him to beat them other ways.
He has an unorthodox delivery, not similar to Phillip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers, but similar in that both are not prototypical in their passing strokes. This is not an issue for Alex Smith. 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. And, without any read-option plays installed in the game plans, it may be up in the air as to whether Kaepernick can ever get that groove back that he had last season.
The 49ers are on the cusp of missing the playoffs completely. Currently, they own the tiebreaker for the sixth seed and last spot for the playoffs over the Arizona Cardinals on their head to head match up and with a better conference record than the Chicago Bears.