As we go deeper into the 2013 NFL season, Colin Kaepernick looks less and less special, while the San Francisco 49ers are getting back to their dominant and their impressive ways by going back to basics: An incredibly strong and smothering defense, accompanied by the power running game that has been the biggest part of their success since Jim Harbaugh took over.
The Matt Schaub situation at Houston has reached an all-time low, with his confidence completely shattered at this point. Schaub threw three interceptions and no touchdowns as the Texans got demolished 34-3, eliminating ideas in their head about being a tough team, and especially the kind of team that’s good enough to challenge for the Super Bowl. Schaub threw another interception that resulted in a touchdown, making him the first quarterback in NFL history to throw a pick-six in four consecutive games.
The impressive feat in the Niners’ defensive performance, which forced four turnovers out of the Texans, was Patrick Willis and Aldon Smith not even being available. But as the 49ers drift apart from the passing game that worked so well for them in the first two games of the season, it seems like things feel a lot more natural for them, not to mention the wins are coming back.
Kaepernick suddenly looks like a good imitation of Kyle Orton or something similar during the Bears’ Super Bowl run in 2006 – just a guy that doesn’t interfere by making the least amount of decisions possible. Kaepernick doesn’t even run the ball too much, taking off only once for 14 yards. He completed only 6-of-15 for 113 yards and a touchdown, and it’s hard to decide whether Jim Harbaugh doesn’t want him influencing the game too much or this is simply a way to take pressure off his quarterback while he fixes the problems there were apparent in the first few games.
The 49ers called a run on 67.3% of their designed plays, gaining 118 of their 177 yards on the ground before contact, once again establishing their dominance through their excellent offensive line, excelling at run blocking. They’ve averaged 185.5 yards per game on the ground over the last two wins, compared to only 61 yards per game through the first three games, indicating once again what is truly the best thing for them to do in order to succeed.
We’re the 49ers. When we’re on, we can do whatever we want to do. That’s probably the best front we’ve gone through all season, and up front our O-line did the job. If it’s smash-mouth football, we’ll do it.
The Niners were one of the best teams in the NFL going into the game when it came to protecting deep passes (more than 10 yards downfield), but failed to create turnovers. Luckily, Schaub improved that stat line for the secondary with his terrible throws, not helped by an offensive line that struggled in pushing back the pressure.
With the Seahawks losing to the Colts, things are wide open against in the NFC West, as both teams lost to Indianapolis and beat Houston. Jim Harbaugh learned from his mistakes, which one of them was propelling Kaepernick into something more than his team needs him to be. Maybe in time, his brilliance will be appreciated, but judging by the success Alex Smith is experiencing in Kansas City, having a quarterback who is out there to simply not make mistakes instead of take over games fits their system a lot better.