A look at Colin Kaepernick's passing totals by throwing depth

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Pro Football Focus has declared June "QB month", during which time they are providing a look at all sorts of raw data about quarterbacks. Here's a look at some of the raw data for Colin Kaepernick.

Now that the NFL has quieted down until training camp, I thought I'd take a look at all sorts of random football and 49ers content out there that we might have missed.

The folks at Pro Football Focus decided to make June their "quarterback month". They have been unloading all sorts of data, and I figured we could start breaking some of it down. David Neumann is away for the moment, but might be able to provide a bit more insight on some of this. In the meantime, I thought I'd take some of their raw data and share it with you. They've looked at passing stats for everything from depth, to down and distance, to quarter.

We'll open with a look at passes by depth. By depth of throw, this means the distance from the line of scrimmage to where the ball was caught. A ball caught eight yards deep in the end zone, but thrown with the line of scrimmage at the 2 is a throw of 10 yards for purposes of this statistical measurement. Given that there are no yard markers in the end zone, this obviously requires some estimation.

PFF ranks the players initially by their proprietary grading system. PFF's grading system attempts to look at the performance of a given player for a given game (and then over the course of the season). Their system attempts to consider not just the basic stats, but how the stats were achieved. Thus, a quarterback who throws a pass 30 yards through the air to a wide receiver is likely to grade out on that play better than a quarterback who tosses a quick 5-yard dump-off to his running back who then turns it up field for a gain of 30 yards.

I view PFF's grading as one more piece of a puzzle that we will perpetually be trying to solve. I say perpetually because without seeing the exact play design and specific assignments on a given play, we can never know with 100 percent certainty that Player X or Y is the one deserving of blame for a failure. It doesn't mean PFF shouldn't be trying to make these assessments, but it's just one more thing to take into account. It's all part of the continued effort to put what we see into some kind of context.

Speaking of PFF grading, I highly recommend you check out Bleeding Green Nation's look at PFF grading. James Keane is doing some great work assessing the vaalue of PFF's grading, and this article is a good starting point.

Colin Kaepernick finished the 2013 season with 3,197 yards, 21 passing touchdowns, and eight interceptions. He completed 61.8 58.4 percent of his passes for a QB rating of 91.6, and a QBR of 68.6.

Throws 1-10 yards

On passes of 1-10 yards, Kap completed 142 of 199 passes (71.4%) for 9 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He had a QB rating of 97.6, but ranked No. 37 by PFF grade for these throws. These accounted for 34 percent of his total passes. Kap actually got some solid YAC out of his receivers on these plays, finishing with receivers gaining 5.0 yards per completion. This tied for tenth among quarterbacks. His 7.1 yards per attempt was tied for fifth.

The most notable aspect of this is how far down the board Kap ranked in attempts of 1-10 yards. His 199 attempts tied Cam Newton for 19th among quarterbacks. Peyton Manning led the league with 353 attempts. Tom Brady and Matt Ryan were second and third with 324 and 322 attempts, respectively.

You can view the raw data for all quarterbacks here and here. Kap is in the second graphic.

Throws 5-10 yards

PFF also broke down the smaller segment of 5-10 yard passes, and so there will be some overlap in performance. On these throws, Kap completed 82 of 123 passes (66.7%) for 8 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He once again had a QB rating of 97.6, but once again ranked near the bottom of PFF's grading scale.

Not a whole lot jumps out here, although he did rank fourth in touchdown percentage on these throws, at 6.5 percent. Sam Bradford actually led quarterbacks with a 10.8 percent touchdown percentage. In throws of both 1-10 yards, and 5-10 yards, Kap was among the league leaders in rollout percentage. For 1-10 yards, he was third behind Russell Wilson and Christian Ponder. For 5-10 yards, he was fifth, behind Wilson, Ponder, Josh Freeman and Matt Cassel.

You can view the raw data for all quarterbacks here and here. Kap is in the second graphic.

Throws 11-20 yards

We see Kap climbing a little higher in the eyes of PFF at this depth. On these throws, Kap completed 53 of 102 passes (52%) for 1,036 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions. He had a quarterback rating of 99.1, and ranked No. 13 in PFF's grading. He averaged 10.2 yards per attempt, and his receivers managed 5.4 yards after the catch per completion. The yards per attempt ranked No. 14, while his YAC/completion ranked seventh.

You can view the raw data for all quarterbacks here and here. Kap is in the first graphic.

Throws 21-30 yards

As we get into this deeper range, Kap continues to improve in the eyes of PFF. On these throws, Kap completed 13 of 36 passes (36%) for two touchdowns and one interception. He had a 80.6 QB rating, and tied with Andy Dalton for No. 10 on PFF's grading scale. He rolled out 2.8 percent of the time, which was good for No. 16 among qualifying quarterbacks. These deeper passes were where he was focused almost entirely in the pocket. In terms of completion percentage, his 36 percent ranked No. 16, but was just above the league average of 34.7 percent.

You can view the raw data for all quarterbacks here and here. Kap is in the first graphic.

Throws 30+ yards

Kap comes back down a bit with his passes over 30 yards. He ranked No. 19 in PFF grading, completing 4 of 13 passes (30.8%) for three touchdowns and one interception. It's too small a sample size to really tell us too much, but he did have an 87.3 QB rating. He did have a 23.1 touchdown percentage, which was tied for fourth.

You can view the raw data for all quarterbacks here and here. Kap is in the first graphic.

I find it interesting that his QB ratings really didn't vary too wildly. His worst was 80.6 on 21-30 yard passes, while his best was 121.5 on passes of 31-40 yards. There were only nine such attempts of the latter, with 36 of the former. Neither is a monster number, so take it for what it's worth.

If you are not a fan of his shorter work, PFF's grades for his 1-10 yard and 5-10 yard throws would probably serve as some confirmation of that. He completed the passes, and had some decent YAC, but it wasn't enough in the eyes of PFF. At some point it would be nice to break down all his shorter passes, but for now that will have to wait. Maybe I should get an intern to break down all 199 passes!

As the 49ers move forward into the 2014 season with some serious wide receiver depth, I find myself wondering if we'll see more aggression out of the passing game. Kap's numbers by depth are nothing to sneeze at, but I think to some extent they show that the offense isn't quite as aggressive as we might like. It keeps the ugly mistakes down a bit, but it potentially leaves some opportunities on the table.

I'll look into get us some more detailed observations of Kap's work as we head into the summer.

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