Rice: For Kaepernick to succeed, system must change


(Photo courtesy of Seattle Seahawks)

By Clark Judge

Talk of Fame Network

One of the season’s biggest mysteries – and disappointments – has been the San Francisco 49ers in general and quarterback Colin Kaepernick in particular. Both are floundering, and that wasn’t supposed to happen to a team that went to the last three NFC championship games or a player whom former NFL quarterback Ron Jaworski once said “could be one of the greatest quarterbacks ever.”

But it has, and it has because the offense is so dysfunctional and the quarterback so ineffective that neither can find the end zone without a GPS. In short, the San Francisco 49ers are in a funk, and you have to wonder what’s gone wrong with the quarterback who runs it.

Answer: Nothing that can't be fixed.

At least that’s the opinion of Hall-of-Fame receiver Jerry Rice, who thinks the problem has more to do with the offensive system than it does the player.

“You started with the read option,” said Rice, in the midst of a nationwide campaign for MetLife’s Premier Client Group, “and the read option was working OK. But defensive coordinators … they catch up. I don’t think the offense that’s happening right now suits Colin Kaepernick. For some reason, he’s always in the shotgun; he’s not running with the football anymore and everything is condensed. The offensive linemen are not spread out. The wide receivers are not spread out. And it’s making everything very confining.”

What’s confining is the schedule. The 49ers absolutely, positively must win their last three games to have a prayer of reaching the playoffs, and they have, in order, Seattle, Arizona and San Diego up next. For a team coming off a humiliating loss to Oakland … yes, Oakland … that’s a stiff challenge. So I asked Rice what needs to happen to resuscitate an offense that produced 16 points its last two games and hasn’t exceeded 17 its last four.

“They need to spread everything out,” he said. “They need to start running some of that West Coast offense -- running the slant routes, running the quick outs, running the hooks where (Kaepernick) can get the ball out of his hands and he doesn’t have to hold on to the ball as much.”

And if they don’t?

“Unless they’re willing to change the system,” said Rice, “I really don’t see him being successful.”