Blaine Gabbert
Colin Kaepernick isn't going to solve the 49ers' problems
Blaine Gabbert

Colin Kaepernick isn't going to solve the 49ers' problems

Published Nov. 15, 2016 1:56 p.m. ET

It’s not Colin Kaepernick’s fault that the 49ers were beaten, soundly, by the Buffalo Bills Sunday in Western New York.

But the 49ers’ quarterback, making his first start of the year, didn’t do anything to help his team's cause either.

Such is the mess that surrounds the NFL's most polarizing player.

The 49ers might have a win this season, but it’s hard to make the case that they’re not the worst team in the NFL. Sunday's contest was the perfect argument as to why that’s the case.


Buffalo took everything they wanted from the 49ers, and more, Sunday, winning 45-16.

There wasn’t a single area of the game where the Bills weren’t significantly better than the 49ers — it’s not as if the Bills are a juggernaut, either.

Meanwhile, Kaepernick looked slightly better than the last time we saw him play in a regular-season game — that's not saying much.

Kaepernick’s legs traveled — he provided some offensive spark to the 49ers in the run game as part of the team’s read-option look, rushing for 66 yards on eight carries (most of that production coming from a 29-yard scamper) — but his inability to deliver the ball to receivers in an accurate manner remains a huge issue for No. 7.

Kaepernick ended the contest 13-of-29 for 187 yards and a touchdown.

The score came on a horrifically broken coverage — so bad that you have to wonder if the Bills didn’t think Kaepernick could throw it more than 15 yards. Regardless, the breakdown left Torrey Smith 30 yards downfield without a defender in sight. Kaepernick’s toss to the wide-open receiver was significantly underthrown, but Smith adjusted, made the catch, and was able to reach the end zone without incident. Without that adjustment, Kaepernick’s line looks much worse than its already poor state — 12-of-29, 134 yards.

But even if Kaepernick had an astounding game — a Drew Brees-level performance — it’s unlikely that it would have mattered.

San Francisco’s defense is just that bad.

The Bills had 312 rushing yards Sunday, their biggest game since 1992. LeSean McCoy did a number on the 49ers’ run defense, scoring three touchdowns and netting 140 yards on 19 carries.

Add in Tyrod Taylor’s 179 passing yards and two touchdowns and the 49ers’ offense stood no chance.

Sunday’s game was strong evidence to back up the cynical viewpoint presented after Kaepernick was named the starting quarterback — the 49ers had no reason to keep Blaine Gabbert as the team’s starter, but Kaepernick’s insertion was more about showcasing him for other teams than saving the 49ers’ season, because no one could have expected Kaepernick to work a miracle.

Did Kaepernick perform better than Gabbert would have Sunday? Perhaps. Any argument to the affirmative or negative is more likely a projection of one’s political stance than an argument rooted in football acumen. Kaepernick wasn’t good, but he wasn’t poor enough to disqualify himself from starting another game.

That, in itself, is pretty amazing, considering the amount of throws that Kaepernick airmailed and bounced Sunday — the bar is so low that even a poor performance like that is considered by some to be an upgrade.

The real problem for the 49ers is that they need significant upgrades at far more positions than quarterback — Kaepernick isn’t the 49ers’ problem or solution.


Blaine Gabbert
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