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What to make of all the drops this year?

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49ers receivers dropped a lot of footballs this season. What do we make of that?

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Over at The Sacramento Bee, Matt Barrows has an article discussing the 49ers' recent problems of drops. Barrows puts the data in context well, but I'll reproduce the bare bones here. The 49ers were tied for the sixth most drops in the league, with 34 drops. Colin Kaepernick's 34 drops make him tied for fourth place - only Joe Flacco and Andrew Luck had more drops. In terms of 49ers receivers, Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin had the most drops on the team: they tied with 10. Vernon Davis, who had six drops, followed them.

Maybe the most egregious statistic, though, is the ratio between drops and pass attempts. The Indianapolis Colts did have six more drops than the 49ers throughout the season, but as a team they made almost 200 more passing attempts than the 49ers. Obviously, the more passing attempts a team makes, the more likely it is that drops will occur. So, as Barrows notes, this would mean that the Colts had a drop rate of 16.5 pass attempts for every 1 drop - much better than the 49er's ratio of 14.3 to 1. Barrows additionally provides some nice perspective: the Kansas City Chiefs had the worst drop rate ratio in the league at 13.3 to 1.

What are we to make of these drops? Some of the blame, of course, must lie at the feet of the man throwing the ball: his velocity is incredible and, while he has deployed touch passes well, he still has a tendency to throw the ball faster than is necessary. Yet, I think a professional NFL receiver catches what is thrown his way. Could Colin put his receivers in better positions to succeed? Yes, he could. But, his receivers need to catch passes. Moreover, many of these drops occurred when the ball had some touch on it.

Fortunately, this is the sort of statistic that might have more to do with the fact that the NFL season is short and all sorts of weird things can happen in the course of a season. One season is too small of a sample size from which to draw hard and fast conclusions. I would anticipate that Kaepernick's numbers will not be this dismal every year in respect to drops.