By Sam McPherson

We have to be honest about San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick: Even when he burst onto the NFL scene in 2012 and led his team to the brink of a Super Bowl title, his game was massively flawed. The last three games of that regular season, for example, Kaepernick completed just 55.1 percent of his passes. Defenses were starting to figure him out already.

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His flaws were always hidden by his legs, though, as Kaepernick’s ability to run made too many “experts” forget his throwing problems. Even when he ran for 181 yards against the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs, Kaepernick completed just 17 of 31 passing attempts and tossed a pick-six interception.

The flaws showed up again in the Super Bowl, as his many game-management mistakes buried the 49ers by halftime, and Kaepernick was unable to bring the team back to score the winning touchdown at the end, despite having a first-and-goal opportunity inside the opponent’s 10-yard line with time running out.

The old joke was that Kaepernick had a million-dollar arm and a five-cent head. This was somewhat verified in the following season when the 49ers QB posed naked for a magazine shoot and wanted to trademark his bicep-kissing celebration act. Instead of hitting the film room and learning how to correct his many flaws, Kaepernick chose a different path—the path of his ego.

He learned what lay at the end of that path last week. Once San Francisco’s football darling, Kaepernick threw four INTs against the Arizona Cardinals, completed just nine of 19 passes for 67 yards, and watched helplessly as his team got run over for the second week in a row. Kaep’s first two INTs were returned for touchdowns by the Cardinals, and the 49ers fell behind 28-0 by the middle of the second quarter.

Now, the Green Bay Packers come to town, and the model NFL QB is on the other side of the field: former Cal standout Aaron Rodgers, who famously works his backside off to avenge himself upon those he feels has wronged him. Kaepernick missed a chance to follow Rodgers’ path after that early Super Bowl run, instead choosing the path of too many modern athletes misguided by fleeting fame.

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Through three weeks of play, Kaep ranks 28th in passing yards, 28th in yards per attempt and 30th in QB rating. His completion percentage is up, but that’s mostly because he can’t seem to throw downfield successfully. His strong arm—never doubted by anyone—loses accuracy downtown, despite having some very talented pass catchers on his side.

While many fans and experts are asking why Kaepernick is starting still and whether or not it’s time to change direction at the position, the whole San Francisco franchise is at a crossroads: Did the 49ers hire the right head coach? Have years of bad drafting finally caught up with the team? Is there any hope for 2015?

Head Coach Jim Tomsula is not Jim Harbaugh, and we knew that. He’s been out-coached badly in the last two games, and if the 49ers can’t put up a fight on Sunday against the Packers, there will be calls for Tomsula’s job already, just four games into the season.

The S.F. organization hasn’t drafted well in recent years, and some of that can be attributed to drafting later in the first round due to the success Harbaugh brought on the field. However, the team hasn’t drafted well since former personnel guru Scot McCloughan left the team in 2010. He then went to Seattle and helped the Seahawks build the roster that just went to two straight Super Bowls.

Unless the team can turn it around soon, there is no hope for 2015. Any experienced QB is going to be able to shred the 49ers defense, and there are a handful of those left on the S.F. schedule: Rodgers, Eli Manning, Joe Flacco and Russell Wilson are the next four up, and each has won a Super Bowl.

If Kaepernick doesn’t improve and the 49ers can’t turn it around on defense, those are four losses coming down the pipeline. A 1-6 and a road trip to St. Louis doesn’t bode well for San Francisco to make anything but a mess of this regular season.

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Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball, golf, hockey and fantasy sports for CBS, AXS and Examiner. He also is an Ironman triathlete and certified triathlon coach.