Coming into the 2013 season, the San Francisco 49ers were touted as one of the most diverse offenses in the NFL. They had a dynamic quarterback in Colin Kaepernick, who was one play away from leading the Niners to their sixth Super Bowl victory and looking to become an elite quarterback in this league. They had a running back that looked to be getting stronger with age and their franchise leader in rushing in Frank Gore. They had great receivers and an All-Pro tight end in Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis. It seemed like the sky was the limit for this offense but that has not been the case.
In the off-season, Kaepernick lost his favorite target, Michael Crabtree to a torn Achilles but all the pundits were still vowing that the 49ers would be a contender for the Super Bowl. The season started off well with a huge win over the Packers with newcomer, Anquan Boldin, having a stellar debut. The Niners lost their next two games to the Seahawks and Colts. Then they won five games in a row against inferior competition but the last two, they have lost to NFC South powerhouses, the Panthers and Saints. The 49ers are now 6-4 tied for the last wildcard spot in the NFC and are in danger of missing the playoffs this season.
This was supposed to be a Super Bowl bound team, not a team fighting just to get in the playoffs. The passing offense has been anemic all season with the exception of week 1 and Kaepernick and the play calling are the culprits why this team is struggling. Kaepernick has clearly lost confidence by the way he has been playing the last couple weeks. Two weeks ago, he threw for just 91 yards and was sacked 6 times. On Sunday against the Saints, he was not much better, throwing for 127 yards, two touchdown passes and was sacked three more times in a crucial loss to the Saints, 23-20.
The play calling has not helped Kaepernick either. Coach Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman have not had the same imagination they did last year to make Kaepernick so successful. You never see designed runs for Kaepernick or passes down the field. I have hard time believing that Kaepernick’s receivers never get open and that is the reason why the passing attack has been so poor. It should be dynamic no matter who is on the field because of the threat of Frank Gore.
When Gore runs the ball more than 17 times or more, the 49ers are 6-0 and when runs less, they are 0-4. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to see that recipe for success is for Gore to run the ball as much as possible. When Gore controls the tempo, the 49ers win and the passing game opens up. Look for the 49ers to get back on the winning track by running Gore against the Washington Redskins which will hopefully open up the passing game and provides Kaepernick with the confidence he needs to become successful.
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