When Colin Kaepernick was placed on IR by the San Francisco 49ers in November, it looked like the end of the former Nevada quarterback's time in San Francisco. Just two seasons removed from a Super Bowl appearance, Kaepernick was sent to the bench in week 9 in favor of Blaine Gabbert because of supposed struggles. But was he really bad?
Technically, the correct answer is: Yes, he was bad. He ranked 30th and 31st of 34 qualified quarterbacks in completion percentage and passer rating, respectively.
But taking a closer look, Kaepernick was the second-most sacked QB last season, and he was on his way to a similar finish before getting injured. There isn't a single quarterback at any level of football that can still be effective when he is under constant duress.
FootballOutsiders.com ranked the Niners offensive line as the worst in the NFL. The Niners also saw plenty of turnover on the roster with the mass exodus from San Francisco in the past two seasons, that saw Frank Gore head to Indianapolis and starters Patrick Willis, Chris Borland and Justin Smith. Combine that with the hiring of the severely under-qualified Jim Tomsula as head coach, and this season was destined for failure.
But with the 49ers hiring Chip Kelly as head coach, it opens the door for Kaepernick to remain in San Fran. The "Chip Kelly Offense" is all about up-tempo offense, and he likes to use a running quarterback.
While at Oregon, Kelly had Marcus Mariota, whose skill set is similar to Kapernick's; Strong arm, capable thrower, and dangerous with his legs.
Kaepernick isn't a great quarterback. Great quarterbacks can maintain their play regardless of who they have around them. But when he has help, Kaepernick is capable of being a very good quarterback.
In a system that suits his strengths, he becomes one of the more dangerous dual-threat quarterbacks in the league.
It won't be an overnight fix. Kaepernick has some technique issues that need fixing, and the Niners have some major personnel problems. But if Chip Kelly can get Kaepernick back to his 2013 form, San Francisco could return to the playoffs sooner than later.