How much is Kaepernick too Blame For Niners Offensive Struggles?

By Jeremy McDonald

Colin Kaepernick had his fare amount of struggles the past two years with his mechanics and what it takes to be a National Football League Quaterback.

The question I have to pose is he fully to blame?

Let me point out that the offensive line isn’t the same as it was in his first season.  They’re a lot of turnover on it, especially on the Right Side of the line isn’t up to snuff.

Notice how early on in Alex Smith’s career the offense, especially the line, wasn’t as strong?  Smith was a serviceable QB in the NFL and could start in most systems.

But then, notice how once the line was molded around Smith, Smith succeeded.

Kaepernick inherited that line from Smith in 2012 and succeed because of the line, which in turn gave him time to grow into the position.

Kaepernick had the same team the following year and was one-play from another Super Bowl.

Then, naturally in the grand scheme of sports, as Kaepernick matured, the offensive line aged and moved on.

8-8 in 2014, 1-3 to start 2015.

Kaepernick is still learning yes and getting better.  We can naturally see the bumps and bruises of the learning process here and there because that’s what happens when you unlearn and then relearn things.

But, how can a quarterback, who’s improving on their trade but expected to perform as they did early on; succeed when the team around him is going through a turnover in one of the most important parts of the success of the Quaterback:

The offensive line.

That right side of the line isn’t giving the star QB time to throw and go through the progression that a quarterback would because of the youth and inexperience.

You can see that with the sacks, hits, interceptions and the compensation that the left side of the offensive line has to do for the weaknesses of the right side.

Let me ask, would you succeed with a line like that?  Probably not so much better than most QBs would.

The result?  Bad throws and reads resulting translating into tired defenses with numerous three-and-outs and losses in the scorebooks.

Let me return to my question:

To a point it is Kaepernick’s fault because he is changing his mechanics and that takes time to get down pretty well to succeed in the long run, but when your right side of the line, or any part of the line, is inexperience, it is hard to get everything together to succeed.

Jeremy McDonald is a professional sports journalist in the Salem/Portland area and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalist in Oregon and B.S. degrees from Southern Oregon University in Journalism and Health/PE in 2011 and 2013.  Got a story idea? Email him at or on Twitter at @J_McDonald81.


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