Leading Off

Can 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick save his spiraling career?

Colin Kaepernick had a rough game on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. The 49ers’ quarterback was just 9 of 19 passing for 67 yards and no touchdowns in a 47-7 loss to the Cardinals. He also threw four interceptions, including two which were returned for scores in the first quarter.
Colin Kaepernick had a rough game on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. The 49ers’ quarterback was just 9 of 19 passing for 67 yards and no touchdowns in a 47-7 loss to the Cardinals. He also threw four interceptions, including two which were returned for scores in the first quarter. The Associated Press

Colin Kaepernick was who the Arizona Cardinals thought he was, and they didn’t let him off the hook in the 49ers’ 47-7 rout.

Cardinals defensive back Tyrann Mathieu – who had two of the team’s four interceptions, one for a touchdown – said the 49ers have “simplified” the passing game so much for Kaepernick that “... it was easy for us to anticipate routes, get some good breaks on the ball.”

So if a second-year player can read Kaepernick like a book, the paperback “How to Beat Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers: For Dummies” must be a best-seller among defensive coordinators.

The 49ers can’t trade Kaepernick’s spots for stripes at this point of his career. He’s a read-option quarterback once considered a prototype of his position, one who could throw a 50-yard touchdown pass or run for one on the same called play.

Kaepernick won 17 of his first 23 regular-season starts and took the 49ers to two NFC championship games and a Super Bowl. His 94.2 passer rating with 31 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions earned him a seven-year, $126 million contract before the 2014 season.

Since signing that deal, Kaepernick is 9-10 with 21 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and an 83.9 passer rating. In his past eight starts, Kaepernick is 2-6 with six touchdowns, eight interceptions and a 71.2 passer rating. His career-worst performance in Arizona (nine completions, 67 yards, 16.7 rating) was like pressure from a fault finally giving way to an inevitable earthquake.

But was it the “Big One” or just a precursor to something worse?

The bad news: The 49ers’ only other option is Blaine Gabbert, who would be a Band-Aid on a massive wound.

The good news: If Kaepernick fails to pull out of this spiral, the 49ers can cut him by April 1 and not pay the remainder of his contract.

The 49ers then could try to do what they should have done in 2005 – draft a quarterback from Cal, this time Jared Goff instead of Aaron Rodgers.

Victor Contreras: (916) 326-5527, vcontreras@sacbee.com

Playbook

  • What to do: Baseball, Giants vs. Dodgers, 7:15 p.m., AT&T Park: The season is winding down, with just five home games left.
  • Twitter chatter: “From @jawsespn (Ron Jaworski) on 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick: ‘I don’t think he has the chance to be one of the greatest anymore.’ And he Truly Believes it.” – @AdamSchefter
  • On this date: On Sept. 30, 1927, Babe Ruth hit his 60th home run of the season in the eighth inning off Tom Zachary to lead the New York Yankees to a 4-2 victory over the Washington Senators.
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