SANTA CLARA – Colin Kaepernick’s first two games this season as the 49ers’ starting quarterback has been a struggle.
He ranks 39th and last in the NFL among quarterbacks with 50 or more pass attempts with a completion percentage of 46 percent and passer rating of 66.3. The 49ers have the lowest-rated passing offense in the NFL, averaging just 161.4 yards per game.
Kaepernick will get his third consecutive start on Sunday when the 49ers return to the bye week to face the New Orleans Saints at Levi’s Stadium.
“We have to win,” Kaepernick said. “The state of this team is we have to win and we have to win a lot. We put ourselves behind the eight ball and we have to bounce back from that.”
Kaepernick’s production has been on a steady decline since he became the 49ers’ full-time starter in the middle of the 2012 season. Each season his passer rating has dropped. Kaepernick’s rating in his seven starts of 2012 was 98.3.
“There’s a lot of different factors that can play into that,” Kaepernick said. “Whether it’s injuries, coaching changes, there’s a lot of different things that can effect that and it’s something that we have to be able to build upon as a team to make sure that we’re going out, we’re performing well and doing everything we can to get wins.”
In 2013, in Kaepernick's first full season as the starter, he threw 21 touchdowns with eight interceptions. His passer rating was 91.6. After the season, the 49ers signed him to a $115 million contract extension.
But before Kaepernick made his first start of this season, he signed a new deal in which he could void the final four years of his contract after the conclusion of this season.
“It was something that we thought was mutually beneficial while doing the contract," Kaepernick said. "That’s a long ways out. Where my focus is right now is the New Orleans Saints.”
The 49ers have lost six consecutive games. Coach Chip Kelly benched Blaine Gabbert as the 49ers lost four games in a row. Gabbert ranked just a couple spots better than Kaepernick with a 69.6 passer rating and a 58.0 completion percentage.
“There’s a lot involved with the passing game,” 49ers offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins said. “It’s not just Colin. It’s protections. It’s backs. It’s being in the right places, timing.
“Colin knows and Colin will probably tell you this same thing, he needs to be, there are some throws that he probably wishes he had been a little bit more accurate on. There were some things he was accurate on that we dropped it or there’s a lot of things involved. But Colin is fine. He’s been up and down a little bit, but he’s fine and he’ll continue to get better. I don’t have an issue with where he’s at.”
Wide receiver Torrey Smith said the team has been practicing well, but they’ve been unable to carry over any of the crispness from their training sessions in games.
”We all got to be more consistent from top to bottom,” Smith said. “We had a good start to the week. We always have great practices. We just got to play better on game day, which is all that really matters.”