SANTA CLARA – Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, downplaying the importance of his throwing mechanics, said it’s not how things look that matters, it’s whether the pass arrives at its intended target.
“Mechanics are, I’m not huge on them,” Kaepernick said. “You can look at (San Diego quarterback) Philip Rivers throw, you can look at (New England’s) Tom Brady throw. Looks completely different. They’re both great quarterbacks.
“It is something that I constantly work on, my mechanics, fundamentals, to make sure I’m out there throwing the ball the best way I can. Ultimately, whether the receiver catches the ball and the ball’s in the right position is the only thing that matters.”
Kaepernick spent approximately 10 weeks early in the offseason working with private quarterbacks coach Dennis Gile on his mechanics to tighten up his throwing motion with the intent of becoming a more consistent pocket passer.
While the results from his work were noticeable through training camp, Kaepernick appears to be reverting back to some of the habits his former coach at Nevada and the father of the pistol formation, Chris Ault, said he saw him developing last season.
Prior to the 49ers’ game Sunday night against the New York Giants, Ault told FOXSports.com that faulty mechanics were central to Kaepernick’s struggles.
“Nobody knows Kap like I do, and really that started last year,” said Ault, who coached Kaepernick from 2007 to ’10 and now serves as coach of the Rhinos Milano, a team in the Italian Football League. “For some reason last year his technique throwing the ball . . . he let it go.”
Ault said Kaepernick’s background in baseball is probably the explanation for sometimes delivering the ball late.
“I saw a little of it in college,” Ault said. “He was a pitcher, as everyone knows. He threw that thing 93 or 94 miles per hour. He has a low elbow at times. It’s not a sidearm throw by any means, but his elbow and arm are at 90 degrees instead of having that thing extended all the way up.
“He does that because he’s so doggone strong. He’s one of the few guys that can get away throwing that way, but when you have to make the touch pass, drop it over (coverage), or if you have to anticipate where a receiver is going, that type of release often times makes you very inconsistent. That’s what I’m seeing. I saw it when we were at Nevada a little bit.”
Kaepernick said it’s a necessity for quarterbacks to be able to vary their release points to account for an oncoming rush and the positioning of offensive and defensive linemen.
“You have to be able to change arm angles, especially on underneath throws to throw around linemen, to throw into windows,” Kaepernick said.
When asked if he notices the same thing with his elbow that Ault pointed out, Kaepernick answered, “I don’t look at film that closely about my mechanics of where’s my elbow at.”
Gile worked with Kaepernick on the positioning of his hips to remain in a throwing posture longer in the pocket. Ault attributes some of Kaepernick’s lower-body mechanical flaws to the 49ers' inconsistent pass protection, which does not often leave him with a clean pocket.
“That plant leg is sometimes fairly loose,” Ault said. “I’m not defending Kap, but some of those things are attributed to the front. You get yourself in some bad habits when you try to get things going on your own. You don’t realize you’re doing it, and it leads to other bad things.”
Ault’s assessment came immediately following Kaepernick’s worst back-to-back games of his career in losses to Arizona and Green Bay. He threw four interceptions against Arizona, then looked hesitant to even throw the ball despite single coverage on the outside and little safety help against the Packers.
“I can tell you this, and he had some bad games with us at Nevada, but this guy is a vicious competitor,” Ault said. “You may not see it, but I’m telling you that he is. His vision is real clear on where he’s at, what he has to do to get better, and he’ll find a way. He is one of the most competitive players that I’ve ever coached.”
Kaepernick rebounded with a strong showing against the Giants, completing 23 of 35 passes for 262 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Kaepernick credited improved communication and chemistry throughout the 49ers' offense for the improved offensive production.
San Francisco coach Jim Tomsula said he has confidence in his staff -- quarterbacks coach Steve Logan and offensive coordinator Geep Chryst -- to work with Kaepernick and make any necessary adjustments without seeking outside opinions or assistance.
“I won’t get into anything that the coaches are coaching up and things like that,” Tomsula said. “And I really, with all due respect to coach Ault, I don’t know him but we’re not really paying attention to other people’s evaluations. We’re watching our film and we’re evaluating and we’re correcting and working on things that we feel like we need to work on.”
Through five games, Kaepernick is completing 62.9 percent of his passes, which would be a career-best but ranks 24th in the NFL. With four touchdowns and five interceptions, his passer rating is a career-low 76.8, ranking 32nd of 35 qualifying quarterbacks.