Colin Kaepernick wasn’t great and he wasn’t awful. His play wasn’t nearly enough to make up the difference in a 45-16 win for the Buffalo Bills, but he certainly wasn’t the reason for the San Francisco 49ers’ loss either. The decision to insert him into the starting lineup earlier in the week looked like a sound one, but far from a season-changing one.
If anything, the game confirmed everything that we already knew about the 49ers: It’s a team far from being a winner with defensive struggles, lackluster receiving targets, and a pair of flawed quarterbacks.
Kaepernick finished the game 13-of-29 passing for 187 yards with one touchdown — his first in 364 days. He also added 66 rushing yards, accounting for a sizable chunk of San Francisco’s 277 total offensive yards of the day.
It was the type of performance that will change few minds about the quarterback that he is. He forced some passes into coverage and missed on some opportunities to make a big play down the field, but he was also hurt by drops and an offense that just plain isn’t good.
The 49ers’ offense also never stood a chance at keeping pace with a Bills offense that racked up nearly 500 yards and ran through the San Francisco defense at will. LeSean McCoy finished with 140 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries, even shredding the 49ers defense after appearing to suffer a painful knee injury.
Kaepernick didn’t magically fix the 49ers, but nobody thought he would. Yet Chip Kelly wouldn’t commit to a starter next week when the 49ers face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Kelly asked who if Kaepernick will start at QB next week: “We’ll see.”— Niners Nation (@NinersNation) October 16, 2016
Off the field, Kaepernick has been in a media firestorm for his decision to sit or kneel during the national anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality. Neither his play on Sunday nor through the rest of the season will affect that message or its impact.
Given his base salary of $14.5 million next season, it still seems doubtful that he’ll be with the 49ers in 2017. But he did enough to show that the decision to sit Blaine Gabbert wasn’t a crazy one. It just won’t fix the disaster that is the 49ers.