The San Francisco 49ers offense showed some positive signs on Sunday in their 41-23 loss to the New Orleans Saints. The team averaged 5.5 yards per carry on the ground, and Colin Kaepernick threw for 398 yards. However, looks can be deceiving. The 49ers deserve credit for executing on the positive plays, but there is plenty of context to factor in. The Saints are a bad defense. They left players wide open, and took horrible pursuit angles to stop DuJuan Harris and Vance McDonald on their long touchdowns. Those two combined for 112 receiving yards on their respective touchdowns, most of which came after the catch. Again, the 49ers found the holes to hit, but we can’t get overly excited about what we saw.
Colin Kaepernick met with the media following the game to discuss his performance and that of the offense. He talked about getting into more of a rhythm, but also acknowledged the inconsistency we have been seeing. And that’s really been the problem. The offense falls apart in the second half. We saw it again on Sunday, with the offense managing three points after halftime. It happens over and over and over again.
The 49ers head down to Arizona this weekend to face a Cardinals team that is struggling. They are 3-4-1, and inconsistency is their hallmark. Of course, even as bad as they are, their defense remains a tough unit. Given what we’ve seen, I would see this game being a “success” if Kaepernick exceeds 250 yards of total offense, scores a couple touchdowns, and only has one turnover. It’s a low bar, but given how this season has gone, it’s a starting point.
Here are Kaepernick’s comments to the media following the Saints loss.
Did you feel offensively, things got into more of rhythm than what you’ve had the previous two games?
“Yes. We definitely got into more of a rhythm today. We still left a lot out there, particularly in the red zone. We went down there three times, came away with zero points.”
Head coach Chip Kelly has talked about how that it was so long between starts for you, that you just needed to get as many reps as possible to start seeing things a little better. Are you feeling that? Is that coming around for you?
“Yeah. I think for me, I get more and more comfortable every week. It’s something that, this is my first real opportunity getting live reps. So, being a few games in now, everything’s more and more clear, more and more comfortable and able to into a rhythm with this offense.”
RB DuJuan Harris had a couple nice plays, the 47-yard touchdown. How do you think he played today?
“He’s a great player. Like you said, had a few great plays today. He plays hard and that’s ultimately what you want from players. The willingness to go out and give everything they have every play and be willing to make plays and that’s what you get out of him.”
You seemed to look at WR Quinton Patton a lot today. He had, I think, 106 receiving yards. Is that something that you thought might be available heading into the game were passes his way?
“I think it’s something that the defense really dictated. The coverages, the play calls, all of those things go into who gets the ball and when and he did a great job when the ball did come his way of making plays.”
There was a point in the third quarter where you struggled, went 0-for-7 at one point and really struggled. What was the problem there with the inconsistency?
“We just had to get back into rhythm. Everything’s not going to be perfect the whole way through the game. It something that we got a little bit off track at that point. But, we got back on track, tried to get back into a flow so we could get back into the game.”
How do you personally deal with the frustration that can come with a seven game losing streak? How do you balance that?
“You have to keep working and keep trying to be better every week because complaining about it, worrying about it, all of those things are going to help you correct it. And ultimately that’s what we have to do is correct things offensively, defensively, special teams. As a team, we have to correct our mistakes so we can start winning football games.”
Do you think this team is moving in the right direction?
“I think today was a step in the right direction. We had a lot of opportunities out there where a few different plays here and there, it’s a different ballgame. Those are things that moving forward we have to correct. Those are the corrections we have to make that make a difference whether you win or lose football games.”
Which of those plays, Colin, will you go home tonight thinking about the most, those plays that you’re talking about?
“For me, I always look at what I could have done personally. A few passes here and there, I wish I would have had. The interception in particular, I thought I could beat the guy with the throw and saw him the whole way. Those are things that I look at, what can I correct? What can I be better at to help this team win?”
Were you guys trying to attack the right side of the field a little bit? It seemed like you had a little bit of success to that side or was that more just like the plays were dictating it?
“Yeah. Plays and coverage dictate where the ball’s going on a lot of those things.”
There were a lot of military members in the stadium, on the field. Did any of them approach you? Talk to you? Did you have any exchanges with them today?
“Yeah. I talked to a few of them before the game when I was leaving the field.”
What was the tenor of the conversations?
“Just they appreciate what I’m doing. The few that I talked to supported it and were happy that I was doing it and thought that it was much needed.”