The San Francisco 49ers, once considered a favorite to make a run at the Super Bowl, are now fighting for a wild-card spot. At 6-4, the 49ers are no lock for the postseason.
The 49ers defense is championship caliber and their special teams have also played well. However, the offense has struggled and the lack of production has thrown a wrench into the grandiose plans of the 49ers faithful.
Heading into this week's action, the 49ers ranked 29th out of 32 teams in yards per game (YPG) with 309. Their passing attack is dead last in the NFL at only 168 YPG, over 20 yards behind the next lowest team, the New York Jets.
What or who is to blame for the dismal state of the 49ers offense?
Injuries to the 49ers' receiving corps has played a role, as the team opened the season without Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham. In addition, promising rookie Quinton Patton also went down early in the season.
Anquan Boldin has been the only productive wide receiver on the team. Boldin has 47 catches for 630 yards and three touchdowns.
Kyle Williams had 12 receptions, but he was released a couple of weeks ago. Manningham is next on the list of wide receivers with four catches in two games.
Tight end Vernon Davis has been productive with 34 catches for 553 yards and eight touchdowns. Amazingly, only Davis and Boldin have receiving touchdowns.
While the lack of production from the 49ers wide receivers is a major problem, it is not the most critical issue plaguing the 49ers offense.
Colin Kaepernick has not played well this season and has regressed under offensive coordinator Greg Roman.
In my opinion, Roman and head coach Jim Harbaugh are so concerned with the possibility of Kaepernick getting hurt that they have drilled into his head that he should only run when absolutely necessary and that he needs to avoid contact as much as possible.
Roman has minimized the use of spread-option plays and has limited Kaepernick's mobility. Very few roll-outs and run-pass option plays are called, which are areas where Kaepernick can excel.
This has caused Kaepernick to look tentative, and he is not using one of his best assets—his legs. Kaepernick is extremely fast and quite strong, so defenders rarely can get a good hit on him when he runs.
By trying to make him a pocket passer, Roman and Harbaugh have taken away the one thing that made Kaepernick a special player. Now, with the playoffs in jeopardy, it's time for Roman and Harbaugh to unleash Kaepernick and let him do what comes naturally.
If allowed to play his game with confidence, Kaepernick will quickly revert back to being an outstanding player. However, if he plays with shackles on, he will be less successful and the 49ers will lose.
Is this grounds for Roman's dismissal?
I believe that answer is still to be decided. If Roman can make the adjustments to allow Kap be Kap and the 49ers start playing more efficiently on offense, then he should keep his job.
However, if Roman is inflexible and forces Kaepernick to stifle his running, the 49ers will lose and Roman should be fired.
The jury is still out. We cannot have a definitive answer until the season is over.
With six games remaining on the schedule, a lot can happen and change. However, if Roman continues to keep the pressure on Kaepernick, the 49ers will be out of the playoff hunt.
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