In a matchup that featured two of 2012′s most exciting young quarterbacks, the San Francisco 49ers traveled to the nation’s capital to take on the Washington Redskins. Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III have both had disappointing years in some respects, but each entered Monday night with very different levels playoff hope.
Throughout the game, one thing was painfully obvious when watching Griffin: He still hasn’t learned how to protect himself. Not only that, but he really isn’t the smartest quarterback overall. It sounds harsh, but that’s the only thing I could keep thinking throughout the game.
After tearing his ACL a season ago, one would have thought that Griffin would enter this year with much more awareness of how to protect his body. That was something Griffin said he would do from there on out after getting injured, in fact. But, as proven week in and week out, and again Monday night, Griffin can’t seem to figure out how to do so.
Countless times against the 49ers, Griffin continued to hold the ball too long without much regard to the defensive players chasing after him. He tucked the ball and ran, and as always, did not slide. Instead, he laid his body on the line and didn’t seem to care about the impending hits. Griffin wound up throwing for just 127 yards and an interception, finishing with a 58.7 rating.
Kaepernick, on the other hand, looked much improved from the last two weeks. He made some phenomenal throws to his receivers including three touchdowns to both Anquan Boldin (2) and Vernon Davis (1). Kaepernick looked accurate for the most part and made all the right decisions as far as protecting himself. He ended the game with an outstanding 134.5 rating.
In the run game, Kaepernick was a bit more reserved as we’ve seen sometimes this year but he still made plays with his legs when he needed to, including a designed run here and there. The difference, though, was that he looked for his options in the passing game first, stayed patient, and used his legs as a last resort unless the play was designed to be a quarterback run.
All in all, Kaepernick played a much smarter and much better game overall than Griffin. It’s obvious that one quarterback has continued to learn each week and the other, well, has not.