Following the worst start of his career last week against the Arizona Cardinals, quarterback Colin Kaepernick said Wednesday he’s not concerned about his job security as the starting gunslinger of the San Francisco 49ers.
Kaepernick’s dismal performance saw him complete just 9-of-19 passes for a meager 67 yards, while adding four interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.
His 16.7 passer rating was the worst of his career, leading many national pundits to begin questioning whether Kaepernick was the future of the 49ers franchise. But heading into a matchup against arguably the best quarterback in the NFL, Kaepernick said he wasn’t worried about the rumblings regarding his future:
“That’s not really something I’m concerned with. I have confidence in myself as far as being able to go out and help this team win. What other people think of how I play and how I go about things really isn’t something I worry about.”
So far Kaepernick has tossed just two touchdowns on the year, both in Week 2 garbage time against the Steelers, while completing 60.8 percent of his passes for a total of 567 yards on the year.
Despite mounting concern, it appears Kaepernick still has his most powerful ally at his side, as head coach Jim Tomsula said Wednesday the team has not lost confidence in the fifth-year veteran’s ability to lead his team:
“One of my concerns right now is not that our quarterback or our confidence level in those areas is going to go down the tubes. I don’t have that … You’ve got to own it and you work through it and now you’ve got to get to the next game. You don’t have the luxury, you just don’t. And if you try to do that, then the same mistake. It’s like getting to the next play. The same mistake hurts you twice.”
Never the most skilled pocket passer in the NFL, Kaepernick’s upside has been limited this season by the 49ers makeshift offensive line, leading to a one-dimensional offense that has failed to fool opposing defenses.
Prior to the start of the season, general manager Trent Baalke stated matter-of-factly that the 49ers were going to “run the ball more” under Tomsula’s regime. Tomsula himself reaffirmed this approach on Monday:
“We’re not a drop-back team. We’re not built that way. We’re not built like other teams. We’re not comparing ourselves to those teams. We’re not built to be, first and second down empty and spreading the ball around all over the place. We’re built more with our tight ends and we like the tight end group. We like where that’s at. And we like to use formation to get us some air when we need air. But, my perspective is playing to our strengths.”
The lack of options, protection and variety in the 49ers offense has allowed opposing defenses to shut down San Francisco’s aerial attack early and often, leading to the third-worst passing offense in the NFL through the first three weeks.
More alarming is that opposing players are openly stating that Geep Chryst’s newly-instated offense isn’t deceiving anyone.
Following Sunday’s blowout loss against the Cardinals, Arizona safety Tyrann Mathieu stated that the 49ers offense was simplified and easy to read, leading to the his team’s ability to jump the passing lanes for their four picks on the day.
Despite the recent lack of success through the air, Kaepernick was unwilling on Wednesday to label his team a one trick pony:
“I think our offense is complimentary. We do things in the run game to set up the pass game. We do things in the pass game to set up the run game. It’s not a defining term of whether we drop back or whether we’re a running football team. We have to be able to do everything.”
Kaepernick and the offense now face a stiff test as they take on NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers this Sunday.
Rodgers’ presence in Santa Clara comes at a haunting time for the struggling 49ers offense, as the MVP serves as a reminder of what the 49ers future could have held.
Selected 24th overall in the 2005 NFL draft, the 49ers failed to select the local boy from Cal, instead opting to go with the now-departed Alex Smith with their No. 1 selection.
But the 49ers can’t dwell on their past, and instead must focus on pulling themselves out of the offensive hole that they have dug.
Nobody is expecting for Kaepernick to out-duel the masterful Rodgers on Sunday. But this week will serve as an important test for the young gunslinger as he attempts to overcome the adversity that his offensive unit faces, and attempts to assert himself as a leader of this team. For this year, and beyond.