For as much talk as there was before the game about Colin Kaepernick, the activist, relatively little was said about Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback.
That proved to about right on the field Sunday. Kaepernick certainly stirred a discussion by kneeling during the national anthem in protest of social injustice, but once the game started, Kaepernick did little worth talking about in the Bills’ 45-16 victory at New Era Field.
Kaepernick completed only 13 of 29 passes for 187 yards in his first start of the season, with more than a quarter of his yards coming on a 53-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Torrey Smith.
Kaepernick did pick up 66 rushing yards on eight attempts, but his offense posed little threat in the second half as the 49ers lost their fifth straight game.
“It felt great to be on the field again,” Kaepernick said. “We had little mistakes here and there. We didn’t finish our drives; a lot of those drives were finished with field goals. If we finished those with touchdowns, the outlook of the game is different and it plays out differently. So that is something that we need to be able to do is get sevens instead of threes.”
49ers coach Chip Kelly said Kaepernick played “OK” but wouldn’t commit to letting him start their next game.
“There were some positives that you can really build on with him,” Kelly said. “I thought he extended some drives, keeping plays alive with his legs. … But overall, offensively, I think we need to run that ball as a group better and we need to be better at our passing game.”
Statistically, Kaepernick proved to be a slight upgrade over Blaine Gabbert, who was averaging 178 passing yards per game before getting benched. Gabbert was leading the NFL in rushing yards by a quarterback, with 172, but Kaepernick well surpassed his average of 34.4 per game.
The first half was by far Kaepernick’s better half. He completed 8 of 11 passes for 135 yards over the first 30 minutes, with his long touchdown lifting his quarterback rating to 144.1. More importantly, he kept his team in the game, trailing only 17-13.
Kap goes DEEEEEEEP.
— NFL (@NFL) October 16, 2016
Kaepernick’s best individual plays came in the third quarter. Jerry Hughes appeared to have a sack and a safety firmly within his grasp on one play, but Kaepernick somehow spun out of the tackle and made it all the way to the 16-yard line. On the next series, Kaepernick burst free for a 26-yard run, but the drive stalled when Preston Brown stopped running back Mike Davis for no gain on fourth and 1.
“I looked in [the stats] and he had a 144 quarterback ranking at halftime, and I’m like, ‘Seriously?’ ” Bills coach Rex Ryan said. “Like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ But I thought we tightened down the screws obviously in our pass coverage and played much better in the second half.”
The Bills held Kaepernick to 52 passing yards in the second half as they outscored the 49ers, 28-3.
“He hadn’t played in over a year … so you knew he was going to be rusty,” Bills linebacker Zach Brown said. “So you just had to get him out of the pocket, make bad throws, make him try and run the ball and make bad decisions. They did, and it worked.”
Story topics: Colin Kaepernick