KPIX 5 Sports Director Dennis O’Donnell hosts “Gameday” every Sunday night at 11:30pm on KPIX 5 and offers his unique sports analysis here.

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Don’t forget to carry a flak jacket around 49er headquarters these days. The shrapnel is flying everywhere as Colin Kaepernick fends off his critics with his now trademark short responses.

I still can’t figure out why the Kapper is so terse in his answers, but the honeymoon is clearly over for the boy wonder who was all but enshrined in Canton after a handful of starts last season.

But friends, I come to praise Colin, not to bury him. He’s not the one who placed himself on the mantel of 49er great signal callers.

Kaepernick is a young quarterback who has started a grand total of 16 games. SIXTEEN games. He is 11-5 with 19 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, 723 yards rushing and a rating of 90.5. You sure you want to hang this guy already?

For the sake of argument, let’s take a look at Joe Montana’s sophomore campaign. Joe played in 15 games, starting seven. He was 2-5 with 15 touchdowns, 9 interceptions and a rating of 87.8.

Does that sound like a Hall of Fame quarterback to you? I understand the 49ers were still in a building mode, but the point is, with rare exceptions, great NFL quarterbacks aren’t made overnight. Kaepernick is experiencing growing pains. Montana was green, so is Kaepernick.

Quarterbacks don’t use excuses to mask failure, but I can. The 49ers offensive line, reputed to be among the best, if not the best in football, was horrible in Sunday’s loss to Carolina.

They allowed six sacks, although the Panthers did a good job of smoking out two read options. But the rest of the sacks were on the o-line. They were alarmingly bad in an otherwise stellar season, having allowed just 15 sacks through the first eight games.

Furthermore, outside of Anquan Boldin, the 49ers don’t have another wide receiver in the top 100 in receiving yards. Lest you forget, 208 of Boldin’s 574 yards came in the season-opening win over Green Bay.

Let’s see what happens when Michael Crabtree comes back, gets a few reps, and starts creating the separation that Kaepernick hasn’t seen from his wideouts all season.

So here comes Trent Dilfer calling Kaepernick a “remedial” passer who isn’t working through his progressions. Kaepernick’s response, “…He’s not in the building with us so what he’s saying really doesn’t affect me at all…I think you should ask him if he knows what my progression is first before he says that.”

I think Dilfer’s critique is aimed at the wrong person. Clearly, the Panthers saw the read option stuff coming a mile away. And Frank Gore wasn’t tipping anybody off. The Panthers were so quick to react that it was almost as if Carolina defensive coordinator Sean McDermott knew Greg Roman’s game plan. How much time did Kaepernick really have to run through progressions?

Give the kid a break. He’s struggling with issues far beyond his own control.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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