Statistically, Colin Kaepernick hasn’t been all that impressive in 2013.
He ranks 20th among NFL passers this season, having thrown for 1,584 yards, more than 1,000 yards less then Denver’s Peyton Manning or Detroit’s Matthew Stafford. And his completion percentage of 57.1 percent is just 27th in the league – near the bottom, in other words. Meanwhile, his quarterback rating is 87.6, far below the 98.3 he posted last season, when he took over the job from Alex Smith and put up big numbers en route to helping San Francisco reach the Super Bowl.
Yet Kaepernick has led the 49ers to five straight victories and the 49ers have scored 30 or more points in each of the wins. And, on a far different rating system – ESPN’s QBR formula – Kaepernick ranks as the No. 3 quarterback in the NFL.
The QBR formula, which ranks players on a scale from zero to 100 for every game, with 50 being average, has Kaepernick with a season average of 75.2 in 2013, behind only the 84.2 of Manning and the 77.4 of the Chargers’ Philip Rivers.
And, over the past two games in victories over the Titans and Jaguars, he’s posted scores of 99.0 and 99.8. The 99.8 rating was the highest for a quarterback in three seasons and he’s also the first QB to have consecutive games with a QBR of 99.0 or higher, reported Bill Williamson of ESPN.com.
The QBR tries to measure a quarterback’s impact on the game in all aspects: passing, running, performance in clutch situations, turnovers and the importance of plays that contribute to a win.
So, in Sunday’s win over the Jags, Kaepernick had a major impact, rushing for two TDs and throwing for another. He only had 164 yards passing – a low number in today’s pass-happy NFL – but the completions he had came at big moments.
“Yes, Kaepernick’s numbers aren’t of the ‘Star Wars’ variety,” wrote ESPN.com’s Williamson, “but he is playing the position more efficiently than any player in the league and he is the primary reason the 49ers have scored more than 30 points a game during their five-game win streak.”
Since the 49ers suffered back-to-back losses to the Seahawks and Colts in September, the 49ers have gone back to emphasizing the running game. Over the five games since, only once has Kaepernick thrown more than 23 passes in a game. But in that span he’s thrown for six TDs vs. just one interception.
So, though Kaepernick’s stats weren’t awe-inspiring Sunday – 10-of-16 passing for 164 yards and a TD – he had no sacks, threw no interceptions and ran for two scores.
That kind of production is just fine to Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh, who believes Kaepernick can do everything a quarterback needs to do.
“He’s capable of just about anything, running or passing,” said Harbaugh, whose 6-2 team now enters its bye week. “I thought he was seeing the field extremely well.”