SANTA CLARA – The 49ers’ offense continued to struggle in the two starts after Colin Kaepernick replaced Blaine Gabbert as quarterback.
The league’s 32nd-ranked passing game totaled 167 yards net passing against the Buffalo Bills and a meager 113 yards against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
But if there’s one area in which the 49ers have improved since the change at quarterback, it's with the yards Kaepernick has been able to pick up with his running skills.
“Colin’s ability in the run game has given us an added bonus,” 49ers coach Chip Kelly said on Wednesday.
The Buccaneers played more man coverage than the 49ers expected, and Kaepernick took advantage of the opportunities. He rushed for a team-high 84 yards on nine rushing attempts.
“Colin took off on runs designed pass plays when the defense has its back turned and they’re all running with receivers,” Kelly said.
The 49ers figure to see more zone coverage, especially on third downs, as defenses have to keep an eye on Kaepernick. In two games, Kaepernick has gained 150 yards on 17 rushing attempts. Gabbert picked up 172 yards rushing on 39 attempts in his five starts.
As for the rest of Kaepernick’s game, Kelly said he expects more practice time and experience in the system will yield better results. The 49ers have the lowest-rated passing offense in the NFL, averaging just 161.4 yards per game.
“We did get him reps when he was the backup, now obviously he’s getting the majority of the reps now that he is the starter,” Kelly said.
Kaepernick 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.