In my first series of posts, I've demonstrated passing charts for Colin Kaepernick and three of his favorite targets in the 2013 regular season–Anquan Boldin, Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree. The idea behind spatial analysis was to show which parts of the field Kaepernick targeted most and, by splitting the field into zones, to look at efficiency rates for certain areas, separately for each of Kaepernick's most trusted receivers.
The 49ers finished regular season strong, advanced to the playoffs and reached NFC title game for third straight year. During the 2013 playoff run, Kaepernick targeted the trio of receivers 68 times and only threw 13 passes to the rest of the players. Additionally, he got rid of the ball one time with no clear target on the play. In this post, we'll look at the charts for all the targets, combined for three playoff games. All in all, Kaepernick completed 45 of 82 passes for 576 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. The receivers gained 154 yards after the catch (YAC). That's 26.7% of the total yards, considerably lower rate compared to regular season YAC rate (39.8%).
We'll start with the passing chart with targets mapped out and color-coded the same way that's been done in previous charts. Gold circles indicating completions, red circles indicating touchdowns, white circles signifying interceptions and black circles placed at the spot of the intended receivers in case of incomplete passes, including the intentional throw-away with no clear target in Wild Card game against the Packers.
Almost two-thirds (65.9%) of Kaepernick's throws in the regular season were either short passes between the line of scrimmage and 10 yards or passes that targeted receivers behind the LOS. The rate dropped in the playoffs with 59.8% of passes targeting players in that range. In my previous post, I mentioned how Kaepernick equally distributed passes to the left and right side of the field with Crabtree back in the lineup. That wasn't the case in first 11 regular season games when Crabtree wasn't available in which Kaepernick threw a lot more to the right side. In the playoffs, though, Kaepernick threw 22 passes to the left and the exact same number of passes to the right side, but with much different completion percentages. More about percentages later on. Similar to the regular season, Kaepernick threw very few passes behind the line of scrimmage. That really shouldn't come as a surprise, with the kind of offense the 49ers ran featuring few screen passes. If we look at the locations of touchdown passes we can see that 2-of-3 came on passes fired 25+ yards past the line of scrimmage. For comparison, in 16 regular season games, Kaepernick threw three touchdown passes beyond 25 yards, all three to Vernon Davis.
In general, Kaepernick completed just 54.9% of his passes in three postseason games. For a more detailed look at his efficiency in different areas of the field, an image with completion percentages by zone.
The quarterback was most effective when throwing the ball between the numbers. He hit 63.2% of his targets over the middle with the pair of long touchdowns in that particular part of the field. As we can see from the chart, Kaepernick had hard time completing throws to the right side. Although he was perfect with passes which travelled 20+ yards, it has to be said that Kaepernick attempted just two such passes. His completion percentage is at 40.9% for all pass attempts on that side of the field. On that same side, between the line of scrimmage and 20-yard line, he completed only five of 17 attempts, with one touchdown and two interceptions. If we narrow the area down to the 11- to 20-yard range, then the rate drops to just 20%, with both of the already mentioned interceptions in that zone. On the other hand, it is also worth noting, that this is the area of the field where most of the throw-aways are thrown. Kaepernick decided to throw the ball away three times in the playoffs and all three were slung away to that side.
In addition to three throw-aways, one of his passes was also caught out-of-bounds. Kaepernick's receivers dropped three passes and had 12 passes defensed. Two of the 12 defensed passes were so-called forced drops. What's left are 18 off-target throws which represent 48.7% of the total incompletions. If we further break down off-target passes, we have seven overthrown, seven underthrown and four passes thrown wide.
The chart above displays the rates for each type of incomplete passes Colin Kaepernick threw during 2013 playoffs. When reviewing the games, I've collected additional data for each of Kaepernick's postseason games not shown on the charts included in this post. The data can also be visualized and "geographically" presented in forms similar to the ones we've seen so far. In other words, there's still plenty of information I'd like to share, so stay tuned for more chart-filled posts which I plan to publish in the near future.