Is San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick a Trustworthy Big-Game Quarterback?

By Will Reeve
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Colin Kaepernick again looked shaky in a big game Sunday night, which should start concerning fans.

Unlike previous big games where he struggled early, Kaepernick didn’t settle down as the game went on and the San Francisco 49ers subsequently got hammered by the Seattle Seahawks 29-3 in the team’s biggest game since the Super Bowl. Given what we’ve seen thus far in his short pro career, it seems fair to ask the question, is Kaepernick a trustworthy big-game quarterback?

Yes, the Seahawks have a stacked roster and the biggest home-field advantage in the league — but before you answer the question of Kaepernick’s big-game ability too hastily, let’s re-examine his resume thus far.

We first saw evidence of Kaepernick’s shakiness early on in big games against the Green Bay Packers in last year’s playoffs. He threw a pick-six on the 49ers’ first drive, then followed that up on the next drive by telegraphing a late pass to Randy Moss that should have been picked as well.

Yes, he ended up shredding the Packers’ defense and set an all-time rushing record for a QB; however, much of that could be attributed to defensive coordinator Dom Capers not adjusting his strategy as the game progressed.

Capers decided to continuously send blitzes and leave his secondary in man coverage, which opened up cavernous running lanes for the fleet quarterback to take off through and allowed him to settle down. It would have been very interesting to see how the game unfolded on that stage if Capers had made it a point to take Kaepernick’s legs away from him in the second half.

In the next round of the playoffs against the Atlanta Falcons, Kaepernick completed just one pass in the first quarter and again dug his team a hole early on. He did settle down and the team charged back from a 17-point deficit, but his ineffectiveness early on in a big game was again on display.

The Super Bowl against the Baltimore Ravens was simply hard to watch in the early going, and a blowout seemed imminent. From the first snap of the game, Kaepernick looked uncomfortable. He missed an open Delanie Walker and turned the wrong way on a play fake before offensive coordinator Greg Roman finally waived the white flag in calling a draw play on third and forever on the team’s first drive.

Kaepernick followed that up by missing an open Michael Crabtree in the end zone, throwing an extremely poor interception over the middle and had a very hard time keeping his eyes down the field in the face of pressure. Before you knew it, the 49ers were down 28-6 and the defense was dog tired due to the offense’s ineptitude — then came the power outage.

This Sunday there was no power outage, home crowd or poor strategy by the defensive coordinator to allow Kaepernick to settle down. In the face of continuous pressure and a raucous crowd, Kaepernick wilted, throwing three interceptions and no touchdowns en route to amassing a Sanchez-esque 14 total QBR.

Yes, Kaepernick is young and should improve in pressure moments; however, fans have got to be a little concerned out of what they’ve seen thus far in big games from the Nevada product. On a roster that arguably should have already won a Super Bowl or two, if Kaepernick continues on this pace in big games, the 49ers may have some serious regrets looking back 10 years from now.

Meanwhile, that team in Kansas City is looking pretty good — who is their quarterback again?

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Will Reeve is a San Francisco 49ers writer for Follow him on Twitter @WillReeveJr, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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