Colin Kaepernick started out the 2013 NFL season like gangbusters in the San Francisco 49ers week one win over the Green Bay Packers. Kaepernick completed 27 of his 39 passing attempts for 412 yards and three touchdowns and no turnovers while also amassing 22 yards rushing. He was certainly the catalyst to their victory.
In the weeks since then, though, Kaepernick has been less than stellar. In the four weeks combined he has thrown just three touchdown passes to four interceptions and hasn’t thrown for more than 200 yards in any of the four games. Coming into week six against the Arizona Cardinals, Kaepernick is going to have to be better than that.
The 49ers have had a lot of success in recent weeks using Kaepernick as a game-manager, more or less, and relying on their running game led by Frank Gore. Over the past two weeks, Gore has run for 234 yards on 37 carries, as well as getting into the end-zone twice. However, success with the ground game is going to be harder to come by than you might expect.
Through five games, the Cardinals actually have the third best run defense in the NFL. They are allowing only 79 yards per game on the ground and have only allowed one rushing TD all season. Obviously the 49ers are one of the better opponents that they have faced this season, but it should still be difficult for San Francisco to move the ball consistently on the ground.
Because of Arizona’s run defense, that could mean that the Niners will rely on Kaepernick more than they have recently. Obviously that’s easier said than done with defenses able to key in on Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis, but it seems that’s what this matchup will necessitate.
San Francisco’s defense should be able to succeed against an inconsistent Cardinals’ running game and the always unpredictable Carson Palmer. When the 49ers get the ball, though, it could very well be Kaepernick that they need to step up and lead them to victory.
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