Colin Kaepernick's Guide to Leading 49ers to Victory over Texans
Given the 49ers' wildly inconsistent output on offense this year, it won't be an easy task. The 49ers will bring the 27th-ranked passing offense to face the Texans' No. 1-ranked passing defense.
This is an important game for both teams, and it's likely to come down to the wire. Here is what Kaepernick must do to help his team come out with the win.
In the 49ers' two wins this season, Kaepernick has thrown five touchdowns and no interceptions. In their two losses, the signal-caller has thrown three interceptions and no touchdowns.
In the two wins, the 49ers were able to dictate the action to the defense. They opened up an early lead, and offensive success allowed them to keep the defenses guessing. In the losses, the 49ers were forced to rely more on the pass after facing long third downs and early deficits.
Those kinds of situations are when Kaepernick has to remain patient. It is natural that the gifted quarterback would press to make a big play and get his offense going. However, he can't do that when the play isn't there.
Kaepernick has to realize that there are times when it's better to take an incompletion or a sack, punt the ball away and try to get things going on the next possession.
Don't Be Afraid To Run
Last week, they thwarted the Seattle Seahawks' passing game by allowing quarterback Russell Wilson to go just 12-of-23 for 123 yards, an interception and no touchdowns. However, that effort still wasn't good enough to help the Texans emerge with the win.
While a lot of that blame falls on Matt Schaub for mindlessly lofting a ball in the direction of Richard Sherman, who returned it for a touchdown, the other big facilitator was Wilson taking to the ground late.
As the Seahawks offense gained traction late in the game, Wilson found success on the ground. This helped stretch out the Houston defense and open things up of the rest of the offense.
Kaepernick needs to follow that game plan.
He doesn't need to pick up 15 carries or anything excessive. He should just look for a few opportunities to tuck and run early to preoccupy the Texans defense.
Get Backs and Tight Ends Involved in Passing Game
The 49ers' receivers are woeful. I like Anquan Boldin. He is a credit to the team. However, as a No. 1 receiver, there are too many games where he will be shut down, and Boldin is the only 49ers receiver to have more than 10 catches.
The receivers' inability to get open has played a huge role in the 49ers' offensive struggles this season, and that isn't likely to improve against the Texans secondary.
However, Kaepernick does have Vernon Davis at tight end.
Davis has been nursing a hamstring injury. He missed the 49ers' Week 3 contest and was clearly not 100 percent last week while picking up two catches for 18 yards. If he can handle it, Kaepernick should look for Davis early and often.
However, even if he isn't healthy enough to fill that big of a role in the game plan, Kaepernick would be wise to look at backup tight end Vance McDonald or any of the capable backs.
This is always a good way to kick-start a passing game, and it is one the Texans are not that great at defending. Football Outsiders ranks the Texans 12th in defending tight ends and 26th at defending against backs in the passing game.
Kaepernick needs to continue to look at getting his wide receivers the ball, but he must also always be ready to dump it off to his backs or find his tight end down the seam.
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