SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) – It’s hard to find any real bright spot for the struggling San Francisco 49ers right now, but coach Chip Kelly said Monday that quarterback Colin Kaepernick did a good job keeping the ball “out of harm’s way” and will start against Tampa Bay on Sunday.
Kaepernick showed some rust in last week’s loss to Buffalo, but did not throw an interception and kept several plays alive with his mobility.
He rushed for 66 yards and eight carries in his first start since he was benched last season. Kaepernick also completed 13 of 29 passes for 187 yards and one touchdown.
“I think there’s some things he did Sunday he can build upon,” said Kelly whose team has lost five straight games. “For his first extended playing time since last year, I thought there were some real positives there.”
One of those positives was his mobility as the 49ers struggling offensive line was under duress for much of the game. Kaepernick was sacked three times, but had several narrow escapes.
“He kept a lot of plays alive,” Kelly said. “Sometimes the protection broke down, but he kept some plays alive.”
For the most part, however, Kelly said that Kaepernick was able to avoid tossing any interceptions although he did lose a fumble.
“He did a good job keeping the ball out of harm’s way,” the 49er coach said. “(He) didn’t throw any interceptions. It didn’t seem like, there were no balls where you were like, ‘Oh geeze, that was a close one.’”
“Sometimes you can have a game where you didn’t throw any interceptions, but you should have, the defense just dropped them. I thought he did a good job protecting the football for us on the offensive side of the ball.”
While Kaepernick’s play was noteworthy, what wasn’t was the disturbing trend of San Francisco being badly outplayed in the second half.
“I think for us as a group we need to do a better job of playing a complete football game,” Kelly said. “If there’s one thing you can point it at and, ‘Hey it’s this, let’s just make a change and do that,’ but I think it’s a combination of a lot of things. Like I just mentioned earlier to the earlier question, we had a couple drops there in the third quarter that would have kept us on the field for certain drives and we didn’t stay on the field for certain drives.”