Colin Kaepernick and Alex Smith were sacked a combined 44 times last season, which would have been the fourth most among starting quarterbacks. Surprisingly, the 49ers’ cross-bay rivals gave up only 27 sacks — 26 of which belonged to Carson Palmer. Despite this statistical disparity, it is largely accepted that the 49ers offensive line was the better unit. This is confirmed by ProFootball Focus (PFF), which ranks the 49ers pass protection in the top-ten and the Raiders in bottom-ten.
PFF recently published “Quarterback Responsible Sacks,” which (as the name suggests) assigns blame for a percentage of sacks. To determine blame, PFF used the amount of time in the pocket. “Four seconds is the time over which we say the QB takes responsibility,” Neil Hornsby of PFF writes. “But this excludes instances where they were pressured within that limit, had to take evasive action with no opportunity to throw the ball away, but got taken down after it.”
The numbers here (minimum 300+ drop-backs) prove to be quite surprising given that they run counter to expectation — especially in Palmer’s case.
Carson Palmer was found to not be responsible for ANY of the 26 sacks and only one of the seven QB hits registered. By comparison, in his 119 snaps under center as a Green Bay Packer in 2011, Matt Flynn was credited with two of the four sacks he took.
Smith was not included in the chart, because he fell 31 drop-backs short of the 300+ minimum. He, like Kaepernick, was also responsible for three of the times he was sacked, which would put Smith at 1.1% (between Kaepernick and Michael Vick). It is worth noting that Russell Wilson (the third most pressured QB in the league) was responsible for a whooping nine sacks and ten QB pressures. Manufactured or otherwise, this should provide fodder for the Kaepernick/Wilson debate.