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Colin Kaepernick: Breaking Down How Rams Defense Flustered 49ers QB

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Colin Kaepernick: Breaking Down How Rams Defense Flustered 49ers QB
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Colin Kaepernick got his first taste of losing as a starting NFL quarterback courtesy of the St. Louis Rams.

In the Week 13 matchup, the San Francisco 49ers went to overtime for a second time against the Rams this season. Factored into the loss was a strong performance from Kaepernick, as he completed 65.6 percent of his passes and accounted for 292 total yards.

Unfortunately, Kaepernick was also sacked three times and lost a fumble in the process.

That fumble, albeit just a bad pitch, was taken back for a score and allowed St. Louis to tie the game thereafter. Although that turnover wasn't on a passing play, the Rams' pressure and wreckage in the backfield simply forced a turnover.

In short, everything ties together in football, and here we look at some evidence of how Jeff Fisher's squad was able to keep Kaepernick in check.

 

Note: All screen-caps courtesy of NFL.com's Game Rewind.

 

Rams' First Sack in First Quarter

This is where the hot-read audible must be made, because St. Louis is mostly showing blitz.

The tough part here, though, is whether the Rams actually blitz or not. So depending on Kaepernick's immediate read, the hot-read can't occur until the snap, as long as the open receiver recognizes the vacated space.

On this play, however, that doesn't occur and Kaepernick ends up getting sacked.

We see the Rams showing blitz, but it's the edge player who causes confusion and miscommunication during the pre-snap read. Also, notice the soft coverage from the deep safety.

Since that defender blitzes, the slot opens immediately. Kaepernick must acknowledge that possibility with his receiver pre-snap, because it can result in big yards courtesy of the soft coverage. Not to mention, this was a first-down play.

Instead, no one bothers to recognize it and the blitzer beats the block, as does a defensive lineman. The end result is a sack, because the hot-read was not made pre-snap.

 

Rams Get a Sack and Prevent Some Points Before the Half

Give some credit to the Rams' coverage on this one, because Kaepernick was forced to hold onto the rock a tad longer than expected. Once a receiver did get open, though, he didn't remain in the pocket to deliver the pass while taking a hit.

You can see the Rams don't bother to blitz and end up with only a four-man rush.

The coverage at first is blanketing at all levels, so Kaepernick takes another step up.

Vernon Davis eventually gets open at the intermediate level, but Kaepernick doesn't step in his direction because he feels some pressure. There's also Frank Gore—despite not being turned around—open underneath as a checkdown.

Instead, Kaepernick goes away from Davis' direction and tries to do too much. Worst-case scenario is to throw the ball away here, because a field goal opportunity still existed. Unfortunately, the 'Niners failed to score on the possession and it ultimately proved costly in the second half.

On the bright side, Kaepernick is still a young signal-caller and he has developed impressively well. After all, he has just one interception and sports a 65.9 completion percentage since first lining up against the Rams in early November.

All that said, Week 14 will be an interesting matchup. Because according to the 49ers' official Twitter feed:

In come the Miami Dolphins to Candlestick Park, who present Cameron Wake and just as strong of a pass rush as St. Louis. With the NFC playoff picture getting intense, this game is huge for Kaepernick, Jim Harbaugh and the Bay Area.

 

Follow John Rozum on Twitter.

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