Last season San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick had a better season than a lot of people think he did. Before the season started, people expected him to have an incredible season. What people didn’t take into account was that defensive coaches had a whole offseason to gameplan against Kaepernick. Also, before the season even started, he lost his favorite target, Michael Crabtree, to a torn Achilles. The deck was stacked against him at the start of the 2013 season, but the tables have turned for this upcoming season.
Last season was, in most people’s eyes, considered a disappointing season for Kaepernick. But when you look at the stats, it wasn’t as bad as some people would have you believe. He threw for 3,197 yards, 21 touchdowns, eight interceptions, 91.6 passer rating and ran for 524 yards with four rushing touchdowns.
If you compare those numbers to quarterbacks with similar styles of play who most people would say had good seasons, like Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks and Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers, they compare much closer than you’d think.
Wilson threw for 3,357 yards, 26 touchdowns, nine interceptions, 101.2 passer rating and ran for 539 yards and one touchdown. Newton threw for 3,379 yards, 24 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, 88.8 passer rating and ran for 585 yards and three touchdowns. As you can see, very similar numbers to two quarterbacks thought to have very good years.
Kaepernick’s weapons are also better than they were last year. At the end of the year when Crabtree came back, they did very well together, but Crabtree still wasn’t completely healthy. Barring another injury, Crabtree will be completely healthy at the start of the season.
The injury of Quinton Patton is another weapon Kaepernick was missing for a lot of last season. Patton and Kaepernick have great chemistry together and Patton is an incredible talent who people aren’t talking about right now.
The addition of Stevie Johnson from the Buffalo Bills is just another toy for Kaepernick to play with. The one type of wide receiver the 49ers were missing last season was a burner who could take the tops off of defenses and prevent the safeties from sitting on Anquan Boldin and Crabtree’s intermediate routes. With Johnson speeding down the field, it’s going to force safeties to play deep and open up the shorter routes for the other guys.
New draft pick Carlos Hyde is going to help Kaepernick a lot too. He’s an incredible receiver as far as running backs go, and he’s going to take some of the load from Frank Gore. Last season when the 49ers gave Gore some rest, they wouldn’t be able to get many yards with their other running backs.
Now they have Hyde and Marcus Lattimore who can gain substantial yardage which keeps Gore healthier and more effective. Having three effective running backs will keep defenses honest and allow Kaepernick more opportunity to gain yards through the air.
What a lot of people don’t realize is that the NFL is an act and react league. When schemes change, offensive schemes or defensive schemes, and are extremely effective, opposing coaches study it without rest until they figure out something to counter it.
When Kaepernick came in as the 49ers’ starter in the middle of the 2012 season, he took the league by storm. It seemed like he couldn’t be stopped. When he ran the read-option the defenders didn’t know what to do. When the 2013 season came around after almost a whole year of coaches studying the read-option, it was clear that the read-option wasn’t nearly as effective.
Coaches studied Kaepernick and all his tendencies. That was the NFL reacting. Now it’s Kaepernick’s turn to react. He’s now the one with the whole offseason to study what teams did against him and change it. This could very well be the biggest factor to him having a huge year.
Kaepernick is poised to have a big 2014 season. The stars are aligning for him and you could easily see him taking this 49ers offense into the top 10. He studies harder than anyone in the league not named Manning, he works harder than anyone in the league and he’s physically able to make any throw on the field. The 49ers better get Kaepernick his contract extension because if they wait until after this season, it could cost them millions.