San Francisco 49ers: What Advanced Stats Tell Us About Colin Kaepernick

Vincent Frank@VincentFrankNFLCorrespondent IDecember 23, 2012

Sometimes it makes little sense to look at standard statistics and draw a conclusion about a specific player.

Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions would be a perfect example of this. He is on pace to throw for over 5,000 yards for the second consecutive season, but he hasn't performed much better than an average starting quarterback. 

Meanwhile, Seattle Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson currently has less than 2,700 passing yards through 14 games, but he is playing at a Pro Bowl level. 

When looking into how a quarterback is performing, we must delve much further into situational and advanced statistics in terms of drawing a conclusion. 

This has to be the case with Colin Kaepernick, who doesn't have as large of a sample size as his counterparts. 

By now, we already know that Kaepernick is 4-1 as a starter since taking over the San Francisco 49ers' starting gig from Alex Smith in Week 11. In the end, wins and losses matter more than basic stats. That being said, these stats can show us why a quarterback is successful. 

Kaepernick has thrown seven touchdowns compared to two interceptions and is completing nearly 66 percent of his passes in five starts. His overall quarterback rating stands at an impressive 101.4 during that span. 

The second-year quarterback from Nevada doesn't qualify for league leaders because he hasn't attempted enough passes this season.

If he were to qualify, Kaepernick would rank fourth in quarterback rating and seventh in completion percentage. In addition, he would rank No. 1 overall with one interception per 77 pass attempts.

Now that we have some standard stats out of the way, let's take a look at where he stands as it relates to advanced stats.

Kaepernick ranks fifth among all quarterbacks in percentage of deep passes attempted. Nearly one quarter of the passes he has thrown this season have traveled at least 15 yards in the air. That ranks him behind just Jay Cutler, Andrew Luck, Josh Freeman and Joe Flacco. 

He is tied with Robert Griffin III and Tom Brady in adjusted yards per pass attempt (6.6), which takes into account sacks and interceptions. This means that when Kaepernick does throw down the field, he is as successful as any quarterback in the NFL

Additionally, only 42.9 percent of Kaepernick's yards have come from receivers racking up gains after the catch. That ranks him 29th in the NFL. Needless to say, the majority of the yards San Francisco racks up through the air come directly from the right arm of Kaepernick. 

According to Football Outsiders, Kaepernick ranks second to only Peyton Manning in QBR, which takes into account yards gained after the reception, sacks taken and amount of balls thrown away, among many other factors.

This is probably a better barometer of success than the basic quarterback rating statistics that many outlets utilize. It goes to show you just how successful Kaepernick has been in his initial five NFL starts. 

Kaepernick also picks his game up a great deal when all is on the line. He possesses a quarterback rating of 106.0 with over 41 percent of his passes going for first downs in the second half of games this season.

Equally as important, the talented young starter has completed 80 percent of his passes (without an interception) when the game is within one score in the fourth quarter. His quarterback rating in such situations is a ridiculous 121.7.

Fourth Quarter of One-Score Games
Player Team Completion % QB Rating
Peyton Manning Broncos 60.0 122.3
Aaron Rodgers Packers 65.5 122.0
Colin Kaepernick 49ers 80.0 121.7

He has also rushed for 140 yards on 10 carries when the game is within one score in the final stanza. This leads me to believe that Kaepernick doesn't struggle when facing pressure and fully understands when to utilize his amazing athletic ability in specific situations. 

One of the things that Kaepernick does much better than Alex Smith is being able to get rid of the ball or escape pressure rather than take a sack. He is only sacked 8.3 percent of the time he attempts a pass, compared to 10.0 for Smith.

While that doesn't seem like a huge difference, it does impact a game. It is still much higher than Peyton Manning, who takes a sack less than four percent of the time he drops back to throw. Again, it is apples and oranges considering the offensive lines those two quarterbacks play behind. 

Overall, Kaepernick ranks first in the NFL with a triple-digit quarterback rating when under pressure and has yet to throw an interception in that situation this season. 


Fantasy Football 

While the 2012 fantasy football season is drawing to a close, it is still important to look at where Kaepernick stands in this aspect of the game. This is mainly due to the fact that he will get a lot of play in dynasty and keeper leagues. 

If you already own Kaepernick, you are in a damn good spot right now. 

He ranks fifth among quarterbacks in fantasy points over the last four weeks, with an average of nearly 20 points per outing. That ranks him ahead of Matt Ryan, Andrew Luck, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers during that span. Kaepernick is actually averaging about 20 points in his five starts overall. 

Prorated over the course of 14 games, Kaepernick would actually be the sixth-ranked fantasy quarterback, just behind Rodgers. That is mighty impressive. 

In reality, Kaepernick would be on pace for over 4,400 total yards, 35 touchdowns and just six interceptions over the course of a 16-game season if he were to keep up his level of performance from his first five NFL starts. 

In total, Kaepernick ranks No. 1 in the NFL among quarterbacks in fantasy points per touch this season. He is ahead of an elite group of quarterbacks that include Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton and Aaron Rodgers. Needless to say, this dude is going to be a fantasy stud moving forward. 



I understand that we don't have a lot to go by as it relates to Kaepernick. After all, five starts is just a drop in the bucket when it comes to evaluation. 

With that said, what Kaepernick has done since taking over for Smith is no small feat. He has been one of the most productive young quarterbacks in the recent history of the National Football League. 

The indicators are also there for continued success. He went into New England and outplayed Tom Brady in a December road game at Gillette Stadium. Not many current NFL quarterbacks can say the same thing. 

If Kaepernick keeps up this type of production through the remaining two games of the regular season and into the playoffs, San Francisco is going to be incredibly hard to beat. 


*All advanced stats come from Football Outsides, Advanced NFL Stats, Pro-Football-Reference and eDraft Sports. 

Follow me on Twitter @VincentFrank

Get your fantasy sports fix over at eDraft


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