I offered myself up as a sacrificial lamb (Ram?) of sorts yesterday during Greg Roman’s press conference, asking a question I knew he probably wouldn’t answer in hopes of … I don’t really know. It was mostly a failure on my part — I should’ve phrased the question better, I probably should’ve been more specific about the 49ers’ red zone statistics and what they mean … anyway, here’s how it went.
How would you assess where QB Colin Kaepernick is right now as a red zone quarterback?
“I think Colin’s doing a very good job in the red zone. It’s hard to just say, ‘Well, this guy let’s look at him in this area, and this area.’ I think you got to look at the, expand your lens a little bit and look at the big picture. But, I think Colin’s doing a good job down there.”
Afterward I immediately made an appointment with the 49ers’ official LASIK surgeon, which was subsequently canceled when I requested a “lens expansion” procedure. I was informed that people with 20/20 vision don’t need eye surgery at all, and that one’s lenses can’t actually be widened, heightened or even beautified with lasers.
Roman had to expect a question about what happened in the red zone after what we saw against Arizona. The defense gift-wrapped two easy touchdowns in the first quarter that the 49ers turned into field goals. Eight plays, negative-seven yards, six points.
So far this year, the 49ers are right in the middle when it comes to converting possessions inside their opponents’ 20-yard line into touchdowns. They’ve scored TDs exactly 50% of the time, which puts them in a five-way tie for 17th with the Redskins, Vikings, Chargers, Raiders and Bills — not exactly great company. In their most recent game, the 49ers reached the end zone only once in four trips inside the Cardinals’ 20 — you may remember the 18-play drive that started at the end of the third quarter and continued throughout the first eight-plus minutes of the fourth quarter.
Yep, the old “meat grinder” drive of 2013. Grindin’ the meat. Poundin’ the meat. Mmm-mmm!
Kaepernick didn’t have much to do with the portion of that drive that got the 49ers into the end zone, and his interception against Arizona came in the red zone as well. The 49ers have the third-lowest QB rating in the red zone of all teams (56.8) through Week 6 (provided we can trust the site I linked). Is there a problem with Kaepernick’s decision-making inside the 20? Are the lack of receiving options giving him fits? Or, is the act of making judgments on any player’s performance within one small section of the field actually a complete waste of time?
Crediting or blaming a quarterback for the entirety of what his team achieves is always foolish. Blocks need to be made and plays need to be called, and generally Kaepernick isn’t relied upon to handle either of those tasks. So, Roman was probably right — the question earlier missed the big picture, something that’s impossible to see while fretting over a short field goal after a stalled drive.