The San Francisco 49ers benched quarterback Blaine Gabbert after five games, switching to Colin Kaepernick. The offense had some solid moments with Gabbert at the helm, but they were too inconsistent. It’s not surprising, considering what we know of Gabbert, and the switch was not a surprise.
Colin Kaepernick has come on over the past two games and had some very solid moments of his own. We’ve seen great scrambling, we’ve seen him maneuver in the pocket and make some strides in his passing. And yet, it too has been too inconsistent. And a very basic number shows it.
49ers yards per play in 5 games under Gabbert: 4.5. In 2 games with Kaepernick: 4.5. At least they're consistent— Josh Dubow (@JoshDubowAP) October 24, 2016
Yards per play is not the be-all, end-all of stats, but it is certainly one way to compare the offensive performances. After Sunday loss to the Bucs, Chip Kelly talked about the team as a whole playing well in spurts, but the spurts are not good enough. And the change to Kaepernick has not resolved the inconsistency.
We saw the team make some big plays to take a 14-0 lead, the defense made some adjustments, and the 49ers offense went into a shell. After the team’s game-opening 75-yard touchdown drive, the next longest drive was the 50-yard field goal drive, followed by a 31-yard drive that ended with Kaepernick throwing an interception. The other touchdown drive was a single 17-yard pass after an interception.
The 49ers run game got most of its numbers from Kaepernick, who did a good job scrambling. Mike Davis, DuJuan Harris, and Shaun Draughn combined for 76 yards on 19 carries (4.0 ypc). In the passing game though, things were all over the place. Kelly talked about a mixture of bad decisions and throws from Kaepernick, drops by the pass catchers, and protection issues.
All of this combined for a performance that was simply not good enough in the slightest. The 49ers lack reliable pass catchers and they lack a quarterback who can consistently make good plays. The offensive line has its share of issues, but I think more talent at the skill positions would probably result in an offensive line looking a little better as it is currently constituted. Unfortunately, that is not exactly in play with this team right now.
The coaching staff seems to be unable to make enough adjustments as the game progresses, but I believe the talent deficiency is the bigger problem. The coaching staff deserves some blame, but the 49ers problems are so much bigger than just the coaching staff not making a given adjustment.