The forecast for Sunday’s 49ers-Buccaneers game calls for breezes of 8 mph, which should make for a less stressful day for the teams’ kickers and an easier evaluation of Colin Kaepernick.
The 49ers’ starting quarterback completed fewer than 45 percent of his throws in his first start of the season Sunday against the Bills in Buffalo. But there were two caveats, coach Chip Kelly said this week: It was Kaepernick’s first real outing since a Sept. 1 preseason game in San Diego, and the wind in western New York gusted to 36 mph.
“I think one of the things that’s difficult in terms of grading Colin, just from the first game that he played in Buffalo, is I don’t think anybody was really accurate,” Kelly said. “But a lot of that had to do with the weather. I think part of that – even the long throw to Torrey (Smith) – when you talk to Colin about it, he said, ‘I just wanted to get it out there.’ He was afraid – I think we were going with the wind – if he let that thing go, how open Torrey was, we overthrow him by 10 yards, we get nothing out of it. So I think he babied that throw a little bit, but (it's) understandable because you’re in a little bit of a different environment.”
Kelly said the force of the wind could be seen in where the 49ers needed to drive the ball for a field goal. On one end, kicker Phil Dawson struck a 65-yarder in warmups; on the other, he felt he needed to get close to the 20-yard line for an accurate shot.
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“The wind was a bigger factor, I think, in his first time out,” Kelly said. “So, hopefully, back here in the friendly confines of Levi’s (Stadium), we’ll be in a little bit better situation, a little bit better weather in terms of us throwing the football.”
Despite the wind, Dawson made all three of his attempts last Sunday while Bills kicker Dan Carpenter made his only try. Buffalo quarterback Tyrod Taylor was 17 of 26 (65 percent) for 179 yards.
Kaepernick, meanwhile, said he felt his rhythm with his receivers was good before the Buffalo game but that it fell apart in the second half.
“Obviously after the game, we have to fine-tune some things,” he said. “We have to get a little bit more on the same page, and I have to be able to give them opportunities to touch the ball to make plays.”
Hyde out – As expected, running back Carlos Hyde (shoulder) was ruled out of Sunday’s game. Mike Davis is expected to get the most carries in Hyde’s absence, although Shaun Draughn and perhaps DuJuan Harris, who could be elevated from the practice squad Saturday, will be worked in.
Wide receiver Torrey Smith, who began experiencing back issues Thursday, is listed as questionable. So are defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey (knee) and cornerback Rashard Robinson (concussion).
Gator country – Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter, who interviewed for the 49ers’ head-coach opening in January, spent the 1985 football season running the offense at San Francisco State, where he worked alongside another future NFL head coach, Andy Reid.
The Golden Gators ended their football program in 1995. Koetter remembers being on a three-man staff with Reid and head coach Vic Rowen.
“We sold hot dogs on the quad every Thursday to raise money for our trips,” he recalled. “A big recruiting trip was us deciding if we were going to pay for a guy’s lunch when he came on campus. San Francisco State at that time had the students – there was a big student union in the middle of campus – and when we’d be out there selling hot dogs, an alarm would go off and the students would do an apartheid demonstration and they’d all go down on the ground. It was a wild place, and I’m a young guy from Pocatello, Idaho. My eyes were wide open – quite a learning experience.”
Koetter taught volleyball, tennis and weightlifting at the school.
Bad memories – Both Koetter and Buccaneers defensive coordinator Mike Smith were on the sideline for the Falcons during the 2012 NFC Championship Game that the 49ers won 28-24.
Koetter’s offense drove to the San Francisco 10-yard line late in the fourth quarter.
“Some unfortunate plays – crazy string of events on that last drive. I could go into detail if we had more time,” Koetter recalled. “But man, to be that close to the Super Bowl and not make it – coaches always remember losses more than wins, and that’s one. To be that close and not make it – it was hard to watch them play in the Super Bowl, but they did have a really good football team.”