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Taking a look at Colin Kaepernick with random pass attempt analysis

The Blaine Gabbert posts worked out so well. Let’s take a look at the other 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick.

Since I’ve taken it upon myself to do some random analysis of Blaine Gabbert passes and since you folk have suggested that the posts are pretty alright (after I slow down the .gifs, which I’ve tried to do this time — please let me know if that worked or not), I’m going to dive into the murky world of Colin Kaepernick.

The one-time San Francisco 49ers franchise quarterback, Kaepernick’s regression wasn’t so much a steady slide as it was a steep drop off the cliff last season. Of course, the previous year he did have his issues and I thought he made some serious fundamental mistakes that, with hindsight, gave a pretty good preview of what would ultimately happen once Jim Tomsula took the reins.

But I was still quite a bit surprised when Kaepernick completely fell off. He was terrible and there were few things to actually be excited about. He’s got a big arm and he’s a dangerous weapon on the ground, and both of those things were certainly on show last season. But so were the misses, the overthrows, the poor underthrows, the missed throws, the ugly throws, the sad throws and everything in between.

If you’re not familiar with the formula, I’m picking a game last season and then grabbing three-to-five random passes from the game and breaking them down. With Kaepernick, I went with his rather poor game against the Green Bay Packers and ended up with two incompletions, a completion and an interception. I ended up switching out the completion that I got with a longer, better one to make the post more interesting the first time around.

Also, I worked harder on making the .gifs viewable this time. It’s a constant battle of size and speed. I’ve tried to slow them down given the frames that were skipped. Give me some feedback if you could. Here is the first Gabbert post and here is the second one.

1st and 10 at SF 20 (14:57 - 3rd) (Shotgun) Colin Kaepernick pass incomplete short left to Garrett Celek

As I’m posting the .gifs in the order they happened in the game, we start with a rather pitiful little throw. Kaepernick throws to Celek, who might have a chance to catch it but honestly, there’s no reason for Kaepernick to throw it on that side. I have no idea why he threw it behind the guy on a shallow slant who was wide open, but he did. That was a decent gain completely nullified by a bad throw.

1st and 10 at SF 33 (9:19 - 4th) (Shotgun) C.Kaepernick pass incomplete deep left to Torrey Smith

Moving on to another incompletion, we’ve got one of many, many, many Kaepernick overthrows. He missed way more often than he hit going deep to the sideline and this one was unfortunate. Torrey Smith wasn’t wide open by any means, but an elite quarterback is able to drop that ball in.

Kaepernick didn’t do that. The other angles of this play didn’t show much. Smith is running the same speed the whole time and can catch the ball over the cornerback covering him, but Kaepernick throws it a good 8 yards in front of him. It’s also worth noting that Kaepernick never actually looks to his right.

With Smith not wide open, it’s a bit concerning that Kaepernick has decided he’s going to try and drop that one in without even checking his other options.

3rd and 16 at SF 27 (8:19 - 4th) (Shotgun) C.Kaepernick pass deep right intended for Anquan Boldin INTERCEPTED by Sam Shields at GB 24. S.Shields to GB 24 for no gain (A.Boldin)

Kaepernick has all the time in the world here and unfortunately, he can’t make the play. His shallower routes underneath take awhile to develop, but they might be better than going deep here to Boldin. Or at least, that’s how it looked to me at first: Kaepernick throwing into bad coverage and getting picked off while Boldin, too slow to really beat corners deep, is unable to separate.

But that’s not exactly what happened. Let’s check another angle.

As you can see in this one, as soon as Boldin comes into frame, he’s got a couple steps on the people covering him. He’s actually got a touchdown for sure if Kaepernick can put that bomb on point. But it’s already a massive throw because Kaepernick took too long to throw (Boldin does separate a full second or so before Kaepernick throws) and it’s woefully underthrown by the time it makes it down to those players.

I’d have preferred Kaepernick try to drop it in over one of his other receiving options, or just get this ball out more quickly. Looking at the play, it does look like Kaepernick is looking to his left after his brief scramble in the pocket, which can account for the miss. An unfortunate play but honestly, not the worst one Kaepernick has ever made given how long it took the receiving routes to develop.

3rd and 10 at SF 33 (5:30 - 4th) (Shotgun) C.Kaepernick pass deep right to T.Smith to GB 20 for 47 yards (D.Randall).

SOUND THE ALARMS WE GOT A COMPLETION, YA’LL. This was Kaepernick’s only significant completion of the game, as another 40-yard pass to Quinton Patton was actually a handoff/shovel pass. Here he hits Smith on a big 47-yard gain. The way Smith stumbles at the end, I wondered if the pass might be a little bit overthrown.


Look at how perfectly this pass falls in. The only reason Smith is off balance at the time is because Randall is being very physical with him, slapping at him. A little while before this .gif starts, Randall is being a lot more physical and maybe even committed pass interference. But Smith hauls in this pass and we all get a glimpse of the Kap-to-Smith connection we all hoped would be.