Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
In the two games Colin Kaepernick played against the Seahawks in 2013, the defense held him to under 200 yards passing both times. He threw only one touchdown pass in eight quarters of action, compared to five turnovers in that same timespan.
Furthermore, during the regular season, Kaepernick had an overall passer rating of 91.6, but that rating plummeted to 41.7 when playing against Seattle. He has clearly struggled to find holes in the Seahawks' talented and well-coached secondary.
Getting the better of Seattle’s secondary is a challenge for even the NFL's best quarterbacks. If the running game falls short for the 49ers, they’ll be forced to put the game in the youthful hands of Kaepernick.
The concern here is that Kaepernick just isn’t ready to be a top-tier pocket passer at this stage in his career. He misses far too many big plays down the field simply because he doesn’t see things quickly enough.
At the NFL level, the window of opportunity for finding an open receiver is so incredibly short that elite QBs must be able to anticipate the open guy with regularity. Kaep does this at times, but needs to improve in frequency if he’s to take that next step as a true passing quarterback.
Since Michael Crabtree’s return seven games ago, the passing attack has improved considerably. It’s clear Kaepernick trusts Crabtree and relies heavily on him to make his reads easier.
This reliance, though helpful, does further expose the young QB's weakness with progressing through his reads. Without Crabtree, Kaepernick had a passer rating of 86.6, per Pro-Football-Reference; with him, his regular-season passer rating rose to 101.4.
When asked about past performances against Seattle, Kaepernick had this to say, according to Janie McCauley of the Associated Press (via WCPO Cincinnati): "Well, those games really don't matter at this point. We're trying to win this game to get to where we want to be."
Seattle’s three Pro Bowlers in the secondary, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas, are primed to give Kaepernick fits all day long. He will need to play some of the best football of his young career to advance to his second straight Super Bowl.
Ryan Riddle is a former NFL player and currently writes for B/R.
Follow him on Twitter.