There's plenty of valid reasons for San Francisco 49ers fans to be upset about the team's offense and its quarterback, Colin Kaepernick. The play-calling is pretty terrible for the most part, the wide receivers' routes take ages to develop, the blocking schemes don't seem to line up with the quarterback's dropback, the offensive line play is downright sloppy and the inability to make adjustments on the fly is so prominent that it actually feels intentional at times.
This is all centered around Kaepernick, who isn't throwing the ball well, isn't running well and generally isn't doing much to keep the 49ers in games. A lot of people have suggested that the 49ers are trying to force Kaepernick to be the kind of quarterback he's not, that they're not letting him run the football and that they're forcing him to be a pocket passer.
As noted by Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area, assisted by some handy stats from Pro Football Focus, this really isn't the case. Kaepernick had 13 designed runs for 93 yards and two touchdowns in 2012, 30 designed runs for 127 yards and four touchdowns in 2013 and 27 designed runs for 98 yards and no touchdowns thus far in 2014.
In other words, his success on designed runs has gone down each season. Now, a lot of that could be the poor play of the offensive line and the general lack of success for the offense as a whole. But one thing Maiocco points out as a possibility is that defenses have simply figured out that kind of play style. He also points to the possibility that defenses keep a guy spying on Kaepernick to keep him contained.
This would also offer up an explanation for the lack of scrambling success this year on top of that.
But one thing I've definitely observed this year is ... a little more simple than that: Kaepernick simply isn't as good at running as we thought, or he's regressed. I don't have a specific stat like the folks at Pro Football Focus, but I have went back and watched enough to see that, while there are clearly adjustments made early on in the season to account for the possibility of Kaepernick running, that sort of thing faded away just a few games into the year.
Teams stopped accounting for it because Kaepernick himself was sort of ... screwing everything up. What I've noticed over everything else is that Kaepernick does not look comfortable. His dropbacks seem off, where he sets himself in the pocket seems weird and his natural instinct almost never seems to be to run. Even when it's obvious that's the way a play should go, I've noticed that Kaepernick often takes a couple baby steps before ultimately committing to the run.
Whether he's avoiding a sack or setting off on a scramble because there's an open lane, Kaepernick is indecisive. He's slow to make the decision, and if you want an example of that, look no further than the team's last game against the Seattle Seahawks. Say what you want about Russell Wilson and his own struggles throwing the ball this year -- when Wilson wants to run, he's going. He hits the gas pedal and he's gone, and no other quarterback has that immediate burst and elusiveness. He's totally aware of everything around him.
Kaepernick was like that before, but he's not anymore. Maiocco's explanations are on point to an extent, but I think there's a much deeper issue with Kaepernick and where his head is at right now.