After a breakout season in 2012, teams are finding ways to stop Colin Kaepernick.
49ers QB Colin Kaepernick has struggled in his last two games after looking like an elite quarterback down the stretch last season.
What are Kaepernick and the 49ers doing differently this season, and why is he struggling lately? And how did the Rams contain him last season?
Kaepernick struggling on long throws
Kaepernick is struggling on deep throws this season. After ranking third in completion percentage and yards per attempt on throws at least 15 yards downfield last season, he ranks 28th in completion percentage and 26th in yards per attempt on those throws this season.
Kaepernick is 0-for-9 on throws at least 15 yards downfield over his last two games.
In every other start in his career, Kaepernick has completed at least two passes on those throws.
Kaepernick has already thrown as many interceptions on throws at least 15 yards downfield this season (two) as he did all of last season.
Teams adjusting to Kaepernick
Last season, Kaepernick's first as a starter, teams often loaded the box against the running quarterback and running back Frank Gore.
Kaepernick took advantage with his arm. But this season, teams have adjusted and aren't loading the box as often because they are aware of Kaepernick's ability to also beat teams by throwing the ball.
Kaepernick last two seasons
Pct drop backs by defenders in box
Last season, defenses had seven or more defenders in the box on 53 percent of Kaepernick's drop backs.
This season, his opponents have put seven or more defenders in the box on only 43 percent of his drop backs.
With seven or more defenders in the box last season, Kaepernick had the fourth-best Total QBR in the league. But with six or fewer defenders in the box, his QBR ranked 17th. This season, teams have adjusted by putting fewer defenders in the box.
49ers not running as well or as much
Last season, the 49ers ranked third in the NFL with 5.1 yards per rush. This season, they rank 16th with 4.0 yards per rush.
There has especially been a difference on first down. Last season, the 49ers ranked fourth with 5.1 yards per rush on first down. So far this season, they rank 25th with 3.3 yards per rush on first down.
The 49ers have also run 17 option plays with an average of 1.2 yards per rush this season. They averaged 6.4 yards per option run in 2012.
Rams' blitz could present problems for Kaepernick
Colin Kaepernick career passing as starter
The Rams sent five or more pass-rushers on 60 percent of Kaepernick’s drop backs in their last matchup (Week 13 last season), the highest rate in any start of his career.
The strategy worked to force quick throws, as his average pass length and time in the pocket during the game were the lowest in any start of his career.
The longest pass Kaepernick attempted in that game was 16 yards downfield, and it's the only start in his career in which he didn't attempt at least one pass more than 20 yards downfield.