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John Froschauer / The Associated Press

Coach Jim Harbaugh said quarterback Colin Kaepernick, left, "probably played the best" on the 49ers' offense Sunday.

Harbaugh says Kaepernick was most productive 49er against Seahawks

Published: Tuesday, Sep. 17, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Tuesday, Sep. 17, 2013 - 5:19 pm

SANTA CLARA – Worst game ever?

That's not how 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh on Monday characterized Colin Kaepernick's three-interception performance in Seattle on Sunday. Instead, Harbaugh, a former quarterback and an ardent defender of the profession, said Kaepernick was one of the few 49ers who made plays against the Seahawks' ferocious defense in the 29-3 loss.

"There was good coverage. There was pressure at times," Harbaugh said. "I thought, when we go back and look at the tape, Colin competed, was seeing the field, made plays, made the most amount of plays that we made on offense. … He probably played the best, (was the) most productive person we had on offense."

Kaepernick led the 49ers in rushing with 87 yards and averaged 9.7 yards a carry. But he never reached the end zone, and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll noted Kaepernick's runs ultimately did little damage.

"He did a nice job scrambling. He had a couple of plays where he got some yards," Carroll said after the game. "He's a great football player, and that's a great scheme that they run. All in all, it was no factor in the game. They had 62 yards at halftime, and they took every shot they could at us, with their scheme. We were really fired up about that."

Kaepernick's two lowest passer ratings as a starter have been against the Seahawks in Seattle – a 72 in a 42-13 loss in December and a 20.1 Sunday.

Harbaugh never criticizes his players in public, and he's especially sensitive to his quarterbacks. His effusive, public backing of Alex Smith, for example, helped convince Smith to remain in San Francisco when he was a free agent in 2011.

The coach also noted the 49ers' defense was just as rough on Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson as the Seahawks were on Kaepernick. Wilson completed only 42 percent (8 of 19) of his passes – vs. 46 percent (13 of 28) for Kaepernick – was sacked four times and threw an interception.

The difference was Kaepernick threw three interceptions and lost a fumble when he was hit from behind on a scramble.

Wilson also made several big plays when forced to flee the pocket, including passes of 51 and 35 yards. He threw for 142 yards, averaging nearly 18 yards per completion.

Kaepernick has not been shy about firing the ball downfield since taking over for Smith last season. But his longest pass play Sunday was a catch-and-run by tight end Vance McDonald for 19 yards. He threw for 127 yards, a 9.8-yard completion average.

Still, Harbaugh said Kaepernick made the right reads downfield. There simply was no one open.

"I'm not disappointed in the way Colin played, at all," Harbaugh said. "He did what he could."

Last season, Smith threw three interceptions in a 26-3 loss to the Giants at Candlestick Park.

"You try to figure out what the next one will be, but a tough loss for us, and we have to bounce back fast," Harbaugh said immediately after that game.

With another of his quarterback protégés, the Colts' Andrew Luck, next on the schedule, Harbaugh struck a similar theme following Sunday's loss.

"We have to bounce back," he said. "We have to bounce back in a big way."

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Matthew Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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