NFL Wire News

Kaepernick stepped up as 49ers fell back


The Sports Xchange

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The San Francisco 49ers discovered a passing game Sunday and … whoa. Coach Jim Tomsula doesn’t even want to go there.

“It’s a lopsided game and I’m not really talking about all the positives,” the coach insisted Monday, even after having had a full 24 hours to absorb the shock of a 43-18 blowout loss at Pittsburgh.

“Nothing was glowing beautiful. It was not a good day for us and we’ve got to get that fixed.”

That said, much maligned quarterback Colin Kaepernick did pass for 335 yards, his third-highest figure as a 49er.

And he did so by completing 71.7 percent of his passes (33-of-46) while being sacked five times and harassed into numerous scrambles that he often turned into a positive (a team-high 51 yards rushing) without ever throwing one to the Steelers (no interceptions).

It was, statistically speaking, a huge improvement over Kaepernick’s 165-yard opener, during which he compiled a 75.8 passer rating.

His Game 2 figure: 106.7.

“Colin Kaepernick played a pretty good football game,” Tomsula allowed.

Among the things he did significantly better than usual:

–He got 10 different receivers involved, including three tight ends and three running backs on the types of short routes for which he has often been criticized for lacking finesse.

–He connected with wideout Torrey Smith on a 75-yarder, displaying an uncommon accuracy on a long throw.

–And he managed to keep his three primary targets — Smith (six catches, 120 yards), tight end Vernon Davis (five catches, 62 yards) and wideout Anquan Boldin (six catches, 60 yards) — all happy on the same day, which certainly wasn’t the case in the opener, when he connected with Smith once and targeted the dependable Boldin only five times.

It was a big step forward, even on a day when the 49ers were in serious backpedal mode.


PASSING OFFENSE: B — Quarterback Colin Kaepernick was afforded the luxury of doing much of his passing against a prevent defense in Sunday’s blowout loss at Pittsburgh, and he took advantage. Kaepernick spread the ball around to 10 receivers without throwing an interception. His 335 passing yards were the third-highest of his career.

RUSHING OFFENSE: F — The 49ers were intent upon running the ball. The Steelers were intent upon stopping the run. Advantage: Steelers. The 49ers were completely snuffed in the running game, following up a very encouraging opener against Minnesota with a very discouraging effort against the Steelers. Carlos Hyde was held to 43 yards one week after he totaled 168.

PASS DEFENSE: F — This says it all: Not counting a last-second kneel-down, the Steelers faced a third-down situation nine times Sunday. They passed on each occasion, completing six for 244 yards. Put another way, the 49ers had the Steelers in, on average, a third-and-8 and gave up an average of 27 yards. It doesn’t get any worse than that.

RUSH DEFENSE: D — Despite playing without star back Le’Veon Bell, the Steelers averaged 3.4 yards per carry Sunday against what was supposed to be an elite run defense. That doesn’t sound like much, but a total of five of those yards came on close-in touchdown runs by DeAngelo Williams. And you have to remember that many of the Steelers’ rushes came as they were, in effect, running out the clock through much of the second half of the blowout win.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C-minus — Punter Bradley Pinion had another good game, especially in his kickoff duties, where he never gave the Steelers a chance for a return. But other than that, there was nothing special about the special teams, which allowed a 16-yard advancement on the only punt the Steelers returned.

COACHING: F — The 49ers were predictable on offense and too fancy on defense. The well coached Steelers took advantage of both. The fact that they were unable to run the ball against a good defense was a physical shortcoming. But trying to trick the Steelers with disguised coverages resulted in big play after big play, which in the end resulted in a big margin of defeat.

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