Kaepernick: 'It was probably the worst game of my career'

Kaepernick: 'It was probably the worst game of my career'

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick experienced the worst day of his NFL career last September during a trip to face the Arizona Cardinals.

Arizona defensive back Justin Bethel intercepted Kaepernick on the 49ers’ third play of the game and returned it 21 yards for a touchdown. On the 49ers’ seventh play, Tyrann Mathieu locked onto another Kaepernick pass attempt, made the interception and returned it 33 yards for Arizona's second defensive touchdown within the first six minutes of the game.

Afterward, Mathieu suggested the Cardinals baited Kaepernick into throws they knew he would make. He said the Cardinals knew Kaepernick was reluctant to throw outside the numbers and they knew his tendencies, such as which way he likes to roll out and which side of the field he feels more comfortable throwing. When the teams played later in the season, Mathieu said Blaine Gabbert was the 49ers’ better option at quarterback.

“Well, everybody’s going to have a game plan,” Kaepernick told reporters on Tuesday. “That’s part of football. That might have been a part of their game plan, whatever they were saying. So it’s something that our game plan is going to be able to attack their defense in different ways that we feel like we can take advantage of.”

Kaepernick completed just nine of 19 pass attempts for 67 yards and four interceptions in that 49ers’ 47-7 loss to the Cardinals last season.

“Yeah, it probably was the worst game of my career,” Kaepernick said. “So it’s a good opportunity to go back, redeem myself and try to help get this team back on track.

“Looking at film, they’re a team that they know what they want to do and they do it well. So that’s something that we have to be able to go out, be on top of everything we’re doing and win one-on-one matchups”

There was a lot of optimism about Kaepernick at the beginning of the 2015 season. He spent 10 weeks during the offseason with independent quarterbacks coach Dennis Gile in the Phoenix area. Hall of Fame finalist Kurt Warner also stopped by for a handful of sessions.

Kaepernick, 29, suggested that he is at the stage of his career where he is beyond making major adjustments to his mechanics.

“I wouldn’t say it messed with my confidence or anything like that,” Kaepernick said. “I would say it’s something that at this point in my career, I just have to go out and play. And working on mechanics, those are things you can fine-tune a little bit but you don’t want to do too much of that where you’re not out there just playing naturally.

“I wouldn’t say restrained. It was just something that I was training one thing and my body naturally wanted to do another. So I had to find that middle ground.”

In his three starts this season, Kaepernick is completing a career-low 52 percent of his passes. He raised his passer rating from 66.2 to 80.0 with a 398-yard performance on Sunday in the 49ers’ 41-23 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

“It is encouraging,” he said. “We put up some yards. We need to put up more points along with those yards. We still left a lot of opportunities out there on the field for bigger plays, more yards, more points. So those are things we have to be able to capitalize on.”

Ex-49er Daniel Kilgore describes 'crazy,' 'frustrating,' 'heart-breaking' week


Ex-49er Daniel Kilgore describes 'crazy,' 'frustrating,' 'heart-breaking' week

Daniel Kilgore’s mind was at ease on Feb. 14 after signing a three-year contract extension to remain with the 49ers – the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2011 draft.

But all that changed on the first day of the open negotiating period when he learned the 49ers reached an agreement with New York Giants free-agent Weston Richburg on a five-year contract. The same firm, Rep1, represents Kilgore and Richburg.

“Originally, I knew Weston was on the Niners’ board for left guard,” Kilgore said on the 49ers Insider Podcast. “When I knew that he was going to sign with the 49ers, I was thinking, ‘Hey, we just got a new left guard.’ I hate it for Laken (Tomlinson).

“But, then, you kind of find out he was coming for center. That’s when I was thrown for a loop.”

Kilgore described the days that followed as “crazy,” “frustrating” and “heart-breaking.”

One day after the 49ers officially signed Richburg to a five-year, $47.5 million contract, Kilgore was traded to the Miami Dolphins. The 49ers got little in return for delivering Kilgore to what appears to be a good situation. The team’s swapped draft spots in the seventh round, with the 49ers now choosing at No. 223 overall, while the Dolphins pick at No. 227.

Kilgore lands in a situation to be a starter. He also received, in essence, a 13.3-percent raise for leaving California to go to Florida, where there is no state income tax. The 49ers structured Kilgore's contract so the first payout of a $2.3 million roster bonus was scheduled for after the start of the new league year – after the trade. The Dolphins pick up the entirety of the three-year, $11.75 million contract the 49ers negotiated with Kilgore.

Kilgore said he was never asked to compete for a job at guard with the 49ers. He said he did not request a trade, either. He was told, in essence, he was no longer in the 49ers’ plans.

General manager John Lynch told NBC Sports Bay Area last week both Richburg and Kilgore are best at center. To ask either to submit to a change of position would set up one of them for failure.

Looking back, Kilgore said he wonders if he should have turned down the 49ers’ offer and gone into free agency. But that approach had its risks, too. All he wanted, he said, was to be compensated fairly and remain with the 49ers.

“I was really thrown for a shock,” said Kilgore, who won the Bobb McKittrick Award last season for his displays of courage, intensity and sacrifice. “You just wonder, ‘What If I did go free agency?’ (But) that wasn’t me. I knew where that team was going. I’m familiar with the area, familiar with the coaching staff, my best friends are on the team. So I knew this is where I wanted to be. I didn’t see myself going anywhere else.”

Now, he will be moving to South Florida, where he will attempt to establish what he felt he had with the 49ers.

“You want to be there and be a part of something on the rise," Kilgore said. "That was the frustrating thing, that you’re no longer going to be there. It’s frustrating and heart-breaking, but you move on. I’m going to South Florida, and that makes things a heck of a lot better.”

Kilgore said he had some hard conversations with Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan last week. Ultimately, he said he respects both men for the way they handled an awkward situation. Lynch said last week when the 49ers signed Kilgore to an extension, the club believed there was a likelihood Richburg would not still be available a month later as a free agent. Richburg was the only center the 49ers would have sought to replace Kilgore, Lynch said.

“I hope the fans out there know the truth about everything and know that Kyle and John did it in the best interest of me and the best interest for the team moving forward,” Kilgore said. “There’s no bad grudges or anything like that. We’re all still friends at the end of the day.”

Report: 49ers scheduled to meet with free-agent defensive back


Report: 49ers scheduled to meet with free-agent defensive back

Versatile free-agent defensive back Jaylen Watkins is reportedly scheduled to visit the 49ers on Wednesday.

Watkins’ meeting with the 49ers coincides with veteran cornerback Richard Sherman’s appearance at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara for a noon press conference. Sherman signed a three-year contract with the 49ers on March 10 – one day after the Seattle Seahawks released him.

The 49ers are in the market for backups in the defensive backfield. Watkins (5-foot-11, 195 pounds) started five games in five games in four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles while appearing in 36 games.

Watkins, 26, played three snaps on defense and 17 plays on special teams in the Eagles’ 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 52 on Feb. 4. He entered the NFL in 2014 as a fourth-round draft pick from Florida.

The NFL Network reported Watkins’ meeting with the 49ers is the first of multiple visits he has scheduled.