The Niners were able to successfully utilize Kaepernick as an option quarterback against the Jets—something Tim Tebow hasn't been able to do thus far in 2012, to the consternation of Jets fans everywhere.
Kaepernick ran the ball against the Jets five times for 50 yards and a touchdown, and if not for his classy decision to slide at the goal line at the end of the game, he'd have two touchdowns.
So, what can Rex Ryan, Tony Sparano and the Jets learn from the tape after watching the 49ers do to them what they wish they could do to other teams? It's really not complicated, but the answer to this question demands a complete shift in their offensive philosophy.
In order to make the quarterback option successful, teams need to establish the run, and to this point in the season, the Jets haven't committed to the run.
The only game thus far in the 2012 season that the Jets made a firm commitment to run the ball was their Week 3 win at Miami against the Dolphins, a contest that saw them run the ball 32 times. Even in that game, though, Mark Sanchez threw the ball 45 times.
For the season, the Jets have passed the ball 129 times compared to just 107 rushing plays, a trend that doesn't bode well for Tebow, Sanchez or any quarterback they put behind center. If Tebow and the Wildcat offense Tony Sparano wants to run is going to be effective, these numbers need to be reversed.
The 49ers ran the ball 37 times with their running backs and wide receivers. Mario Manningham and Ted Ginn were involved in stretching the defense horizontally, which worked in Kaepernick's favor in the option game. Kaepernick and Alex Smith pitched in for seven more attempts, for a total of 44 runs in the game, totaling 245 yards and three touchdowns.
Alex Smith and Kaepernick attempted just 22 passes in this game, too, meaning the 49ers doubled down on the running game.
If the Jets are to imitate what Kaepernick did in the running game—piling up 50 yards and a touchdown—they must start making the running game the first priority of the offense. Sanchez seems to get worse the more they throw the ball these days, anyways, so this strategy isn't exactly going to hurt the team.
Furthermore, if Tebow is to become a successful option quarterback, the Jets must establish him more as a legitimate passer. Too often when he's behind center, teams are able to send the house to stop him from gaining yards on the ground, knowing he isn't going to pass.
Although Kaepernick only threw the ball one time in the game, his sole attempt proved that the 49ers weren't afraid to let him take a shot deep, a crucial aspect of running an option offense that works. If there's no option to throw, then Tebow is just another runner.
The Jets are in a heap of trouble. Tebow isn't your typical pocket quarterback that can pick defenses apart, but used properly, he can be a dangerous weapon for his team—much like Kaepernick was for the 49ers.
The Jets must learn how to use him. If not, they should abandon the project altogether and move on.
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