After the San Francisco 49ers struggled mightily on offense in their Week 10 loss to the Carolina Panthers, the hope was that Colin Kaepernick would find a way to improve upon a 91-yard passing game in the Week 11 game against the New Orleans Saints. After another bad outing for Kaepernick where he threw for only 127 yards passing in the 49ers’ heartbreaking 23-20 loss to the Saints, many are once again jumping on Kaepernick for his play during the game and for not leading the 49ers to a win.
In the lead up to the game against the Saints, I defended Kaepernick and explained his struggles against the Panthers and in weeks prior while highlighting and recognizing mistakes he has made himself. Once again, I come out after another 49ers loss and come to the defense of Kaepernick. Yes he did not have a good game and yes he made some mistakes, but once again to solely blame Kaepernick for his struggles against the Saints on Sunday is glossing over and ignoring another vital factor for his play. The 49ers coaching staff has not helped Kaepernick during his struggles.
In particular, head coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Vic Fangio have failed the 49ers offense and Kaepernick with some of the play-calling. And just as importantly they have not helped Kaepernick progress and develop as a quarterback during this 2013 season. Harbaugh and Fangio need to look in the mirror and be questioned for their roles in helping Kaepernick develop and excel with limited weapons to throw to.
To me the situation is clear: You have a young and talented quarterback entering his first full season as a starter and when you throw into the mix a major injury to his best and favorite wide receiver before the season even started it is incumbent on the head coach and offensive coordinator to help guide him with play-calling. In this respect, Harbaugh and Fangio have failed Kaepernick by not making play calls and running plays which would help Kaepernick and a thin receiver group to be able to make plays on a more consistent basis. Kaepernick can only do so much with some of the plays that are called.
Aside from the numbers, many who are jumping on Kaepernick now are jumping on him for being a flash in the pan thinking maybe he was nothing but hype. Critics need to remember he is not Andrew Luck, who is a once in a lifetime quarterback, but he is not some one-hit wonder. The fact of the matter is that Kaepernick is a talented young quarterback who is in his first full season as a starter and as such he will have some struggles along the way which are extenuated with the lack of some weapons.
This is something that Harbaugh and Fangio can help Kaepernick out by play calls which will help their young quarterback to be in more positions to excel and succeed. It is easy to blame Kaepernick for his play, but at a certain point everyone who is and has been so quick to criticize him for his play needs to start turning their attention and questions towards the head coach and the offensive coordinator who have not done their young quarterback any favors.