SANTA CLARA – Colin Kaepernick threw for 398 yards on Sunday, his highest passing output since the season-opener of the 2013 season.
But mistakes across the board prevented the 49ers from putting up more points to attempt to keep up with Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in a 41-23 loss at Levi’s Stadium.
“I think we got into more of a rhythm today,” said Kaepernick, who made his third start of the season after replacing Blaine Gabbert. “We still left a lot out there, particularly in the red zone. We went down there three times and came away with zero points.
“I get more and more comfortable every week. This is my first opportunity to get live reps, so being a few games in now, everything is more and more clear, more and more comfortable, and able to get in a rhythm with this offense.”
Kaepernick threw a costly interception, and running backs Mike Davis and DuJuan Harris lost fumbles deep in New Orleans territory that could have kept the game much closer for much longer.
Despite misfiring on seven consecutive pass attempts in the second half, Kaepernick completed 24 of 39 pass attempts for 398 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. His passer rating was 102.3. Kaepernick had the second-largest passing day of his career, ranking behind only his 412-yard day against the Green Bay Packers to open his first full season as the starter.
“There were few throws here and there, I wish I would’ve had,” Kaepernick said. “The interception, in particular, I thought I could beat the guy with the throw. I saw him the whole way. Those are things that I look at, ‘What can I correct? What I can be better at to help this team win?’”
Kaepernick appeared to lock onto intended receiver Jeremy Kerley, giving Saints linebacker Craig Robertson enough time to jump the route for the interception. Robertson returned the interception 29 yards to set up the Saints’ second touchdown of the game.
“We just had to get back into rhythm,” Kaepernick said. “Everything’s not going to be perfect all the way through the game. There was something where we got a little off track at that point, but we got back on track and tried to get back in the flow so we could get back into the game.”
Wide receiver Quinton Patton had a career-high 106 yards receiving on six receptions. Kaepernick had short throws to running back DuJuan Harris and tight end Vance McDonald turn into 47- and 65-yard touchdowns, respectively.
“Today was a step in the right direction,” Kaepernick said. “We had a lot of opportunities, where a few different plays here and there, it’s a different ballgame. And those are things moving forward we have to correct. And those are the corrections we have to make that make a difference whether you win or lose football games.”
There is little question that Kaepernick will remain at quarterback as the 49ers look to end their seven-game losing streak and avoid a franchise-worst nine-game skid. The 49ers’ next two games are against the Arizona Cardinals and New England Patriots.
“You have to keep working and keep trying to be better every week because complaining about it, worrying about it, all those things, aren’t going to help you correct it,” Kaepernick said. “And, ultimately, that’s what we have to do, is correct things offensively, defensively and special teams. As a team, we have to correct our mistakes so we can start winning football games.”