Mike Iupati Colin Kaepernick Anthony Davis 49ersIt didn’t take long for Packers’ rookie defensive tackle Datone Jones to take aim at Colin Kaepernick’s running ability. Less than three weeks after being drafted by Green Bay, Jones told reporters Kaepernick wouldn’t be able to keep running the way he did in 2012. “He takes one good hit,” Jones said, “there goes the season.”

Maybe Jones is right, and if he is you can be sure the 49ers’ quarterback will adjust his game accordingly. Offensively, San Francisco has another formidable schedule in 2013. They face the Packers, Seahawks (twice), Panthers, Saints, Texans, Colts and Falcons, to name a few. They’re all teams with fantastic quarterbacks and solid rushing attacks, but what do their defenses look like, and how will Kaepernick fare against them?

Week 1 vs. the Packers

Preview

Let’s start with Green Bay — certainly a spicy match up after the 49ers swept both contests against them last year, including their Divisional Round drubbing in January. Kaepernick was already on his way to becoming a star, but he stole all the headlines with his performance in that game: 17-for-31 for 263 yards, two touchdowns and one interception while rushing 16 times for 181 yards and two scores.

Last season

Kaepernick’s passing yards per attempt for that contest was 8.48, considerably better than the 8th ranked 6.7 Green Bay allowed in 2012. But where the Packers really struggled was in run defense. They ranked 17th in total yards allowed (1896) and 26th in yards per attempt (4.5).

Draft and free agency additions

Green Bay must have a lot of faith in their defense as it’s currently constructed: after adding Jones in the first round, they didn’t address that side of the ball again until the fifth round, when they drafted DB Micah Hyde and DT Josh Boyd. As for free agency, their only defensive add was CB Loyce Means (who?).

Projection: Unless defensive coordinator Dom Capers has some serious tricks up his sleeve, it’s hard to picture a scenario where Kaepernick doesn’t thrive yet again.

Week 2 @ the Seahawks

Preview

This should be fun … if you’re into fierce hatred and unrelenting frustration. Last season, Seattle sufficiently bottled up Kaepernick in their 42-13 Super Bowl victory butt-kicking. Although the young 49ers quarterback did go 19-for-36 passing for 244 yards and a touchdown, he also threw a back-breaking pick and most of his yards were in garbage time. They harnessed him on the ground, too — seven carries for 31 yards. He never crossed the goal line.

Last season

The Seahawks were 6th in total passing yards allowed (3,250) and 3rd in yards per passing attempt (6.2) in 2012. They were, surprisingly, unimpressive against the run, allowing 1,649 yards rushing and 4.5 yards per rush attempt (23rd in the league).

Draft and free agency additions

Seattle did take steps to bolster an already tough defense in the draft, taking DT Jordan Hill in the second round as well as DT Jesse Williams and CB Simon Tharold in the fifth. The more significant defensive changes came in free agency, however. Seattle’s list of offseason transactions is looooooooong and highlighted by additions like DE Michael Bennett, DE Cliff Avril and CB Antoine Winfield.

Projection: No matter how you slice it, this is going to be tough for the 49ers and their quarterback. Seattle has been a difficult road environment for a while now, and the additions to their defense will make for a long night, whether you like it or not.

Week 3 vs. the Colts

Preview

Week 3 will be billed as The Return of the Bay Area’s Most Beloved Son: Ricky Jean-Francois. Just kidding — Andrew Luck will steal all the headlines and probably produce a difficult challenge for the 49ers defense. While the Colts found a way to sneak into the playoffs last season, their defense deserves very little credit for the feat.

Last season

Indianapolis landed in the bottom third of the league against the pass. They ranked 21st in passing yards allowed with 3,788 while allowing a 23rd ranked 7.4 yards per pass attempt. Their defense against the rush was even worse — they were 29th in total rushing yards allowed (2,200) and 31st in yards per rush attempt (5.1). Yuck.

Draft and free agency additions

The Colts drafted DE Bjoern Werner out of Florida State in the first round, but afterwards they did very little. Taking DT Montori Hughes in the fifth round and S John Boyett in the sixth probably won’t turn around one of the downright-worst defenses in the league.

In free agency the Colts added a few pieces, including the former 49ers backup DT, CB Greg Toler and LB Erik Walden. How much of an impact those additions make is uncertain, but it’s not the overhaul this team probably needs.

Projection: Kaepernick shouldn’t have any trouble putting up big numbers against the Colts this year. Given Luck’s abilities, this should be a fun game.

Week 4 @ the Rams

Preview

Everybody ready for Craig Dahl v. Cortland Finnegan? Given St. Louis’s ability to stump Kaepernick and the 49ers in two contests last season, this should be another tough battle for San Francisco. Dahl claimed the 49ers were tipping plays last season, but that can’t be the only reason the Rams saw success against the NFC West’s best team. St. Louis was underrated in 2012, and they should be improved in 2013.

Last season

The Rams’ 3602 passing yards allowed and 7.2 yards per pass attempt allowed ranked 15th and 19th respectively, and they kept Kaepernick fairly pedestrian when they faced him. Kaepernick’s first real appearance was in their 24-24 tie and he only completed 11 passes for 117 yards with no touchdowns. In his second contest, Kaepernick went 21-32 for 208 yards without throwing a touchdown yet again. The quarterback rushed for 66 and 84 yards in the two games, so you can bet the Rams will be on the lookout for running plays this time around.

Draft and free agency additions

The Rams stole a lot of headlines for jumping up in the draft to add Tavon Austin, but they did good work on the defensive side of the ball too. With the 30th pick they took Alec Ogletree, arguably the best linebacker in the draft. They also added S T.J. McDonald out of USC and Miami CB Brandon McGee in the later rounds.

Their draft class will have to be enough, because they did nothing to bolster their defense through free agency. Then again, their defense was more than capable of stopping Kaepernick last year.

Projection: Until the 49ers prove otherwise, I’ll be preparing for a rough week offensively against the Rams. They may not make noise to win the division, but St. Louis will do everything they can to make it tough for the 49ers.