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Friday, November 30, 2012
Dropping the ball: Where NFC West stands

By Mike Sando

Randy Moss has fielded passes in games from some strong-armed quarterbacks.

One of the few he tried to catch from Colin Kaepernick left the receiver with a dropped pass on his ledger and an injured digit on his hand.

"Not too many guys can throw the ball like 'Kaep,' " teammate Michael Crabtree told reporters.

Crabtree had a chance to catch a pass against New Orleans last week. The ball wasn't a drop by ESPN charting standards, because it wasn't one the receiver should have caught with ordinary effort. But it was a pass a top NFL receiver should handle most of the time, and one Crabtree considered a drop by his standards.

"With Colin Kaepernick, you gotta keep your eye on the ball," Crabtree said. "Last game, I dropped a pass I could have caught for a first down. It was kind of low, but the guy can throw the ball real fast, and it's hard, too. You gotta concentrate."

With that in mind, and with tight end Vernon Davis dropping a ball that hit him in the chest Sunday, I wondered whether the 49ers were suffering additional drops per target since Kaepernick replaced Alex Smith at quarterback. That has not been the case using ESPN's charting for dropped passes.

The 49ers have 13 drops on 206 targets (6.3 percent) with Smith. They have four drops on 71 targets (5.6 percent) with Kaepernick.

The St. Louis Rams rank fourth in fewest drops per target (3.9 percent). The Arizona Cardinals are 11th (4.6 percent), the Seattle Seahawks are 16th (5.0 percent) and the 49ers are 26th (6.1 percent). The Seahawks and Rams are tied for second in fewest total drops (13). The 49ers are tied for 11th with 17. The Cardinals are tied for 16th with 19.