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The eyeball test seems to indicate that 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman is ignoring the quarterback-driven run game this season.
But is that really the case?
The answer is no.
The only thing that has changed is that Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers are not nearly as successful this season when they call the read option or a run play designed to keep the ball in their quarterback's hands.
In 2012 when Kaepernick took over for Alex Smith, the 49ers were ahead of the curve. Other teams might have been using the read option, but the 49ers ran it better than any other team. Kaepernick was in his element as a pioneer of the pistol formation from his days at Nevada.
Defenses were completely flummoxed.
He broke down defenses with scrambles when pass plays broke down. And his ability to run the read option – and make the correct call whether to hand off or keep the ball -- was beyond the comprehension of most NFL defenses.
This season, the 49ers have called just as many quarterback runs as in the past. The only difference is that they're not nearly as successful. And he is not gaining as many yards as a scrambler, either -- perhaps due to teams assigning a spy to account for him when he breaks out of the pocket.
Jeff Deeney of Pro Football Focus shared some interesting numbers that pertain to the 49ers’ play-calling since Kaepernick took over as a starter in 2012. The following regular-season statistics do not include scrambles, kneel-downs, sneaks and fumbled snaps:
--In seven regular-season starts in 2012, Kaepernick had 14 designed runs for 93 yards and two touchdowns.
--Last season in 16 games as the starter, he rushed 30 times on designed runs for 127 yards and four touchdowns.
--This season with three games remaining, Kaepernick has 27 attempts on designed run plays for 98 yards and no touchdowns.
Overall, Kaepernick success as a runner has decreased every season. In 2012, he averaged 6.6 yards on his 63 total rushing attempts. In 2013, his average fell to 5.7 yards on 92 total attempts. And this season, he is averaging 4.7 yards on 81 rushes through 13 games.