Brian Hoyer's Poor Start is Proof 49ers Would be Better off with Colin Kaepernick
In this article, I'm going to break two rules. The first I've already broken by referring to myself in a piece. It's generally regarded as bad journalism but hey you only live once right?
The second is a rule I set for myself a few months back, when I said I would no longer talk about Colin Kaepernick. Just two weeks into the San Francisco 49ers season, it is necessary to talk about Colin Kaepernick.
Why? Because this past offseason 49ers observers and fans alike were seemingly convinced that a divorce between the Niners, led by their new regime headed by John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan, and Kaepernick, was the right move, that San Francisco would be better off with Brian Hoyer serving as a stopgap starter who knows Shanahan's offense.
But, through the first two games of the season, it is becoming apparent that the idea of Hoyer as a competent quarterback is a fallacy.
Hoyer has wasted two impressive efforts by the 49ers defense, with his inability to lead San Francisco to a touchdown drive in a 12-9 defeat to the Seattle Seahawks particularly frustrating as the Niners were denied a first win in Seattle since 2011 because of his failings.
San Francisco's defense held the Seahawks running game and quarterback Russell Wilson in check for the vast majority of the contest, while on the opposite side of the ball Hoyer was kept clean by an offensive line that allowed just five pressures, per Pro Football Focus, and aided by an effective ground attack, with Carlos Hyde going for over 100 yards and Matt Breida also impressing.
Hoyer was unable to take advantage of the clean pockets afforded to him and make the Seahawks fear the passing game as well as the run. He struggled to read the field, staring down Bobby Wagner for an interception, sailed balls high, showed poor pocket presence and displayed no proficiency in pushing the ball downfield.
Indeed, Hoyer finished the game with just 99 yards and did not complete any of his three pass attempts over 10 yards, according to PFF.
In his two 49ers appearances, Hoyer has yet to find the end zone and has turned the ball over three times, with two of those coming via interceptions, despite possessing an effective running game, a capable offensive line and improved talent at the receiver position from what San Francisco had in 2016.
While Hoyer has been throwing to the likes of Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin, Kaepernick last year ended the season passing to Chris Harper, Rod Streater and Aaron Burbridge but still produced arguably his best season, tossing 16 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
Having learnt and succeeded in Chip Kelly's system despite a talent-poor roster and a dismal O-Line that gave up 47 sacks, there is little to suggest Kaepernick could not have flourished in Shanahan's scheme.
Kaepernick has long since been a superior quarterback to Hoyer and, with the development he displayed in the pocket last year and his ability to make plays outside of the structure, there is a plethora of evidence that he would have been able to deliver a victory had he been under center on Sunday.
Lynch and Shanahan deserve plenty of praise for how they have rebuilt this team and turned two of its major weaknesses -- the defense and the offensive line -- into apparent strengths.
However, to trot Hoyer out there behind that O-Line with a flourishing running game and an improving defense after seeing Kaepernick perform last year with a cast of no-names is an insult.
It is an insult to the fans who are desperate for an exciting product on the field and it is an insult to Kaepernick, who was open to staying with the 49ers and deserves to be on a team rather than continuing to remain unemployed.
Of course, the Niners have played two of the tougher defenses in the NFL in the Carolina Panthers and the Seahawks. As the schedule softens, there will be hope Hoyer improves.
There is also obviously no chance of a 49ers-Kaepernick reunion at this point but, two weeks into the season, there is plenty of credence to the argument that the logic behind letting him go and starting Hoyer was extremely flawed.