Seems that everyone has an opinion on how to fix Colin Kaepernick, America’s favorite test dummy. But could the answer really be as simple as four measly yards?
Kaepernick has been solid in back-to-back games for the first time in a long time. The improvement coincided with fewer snaps in the Pistol formation and more directly behind the center.
“There’s such a great learning curve there, but it puts any quarterback under rhythm. [Kaepernick] has a chance to look at the defense for the entire time instead of briefly looking down to catch the ball,” offense coordinator Geep Chryst said Tuesday. “And he’s comfortable playing that way.”
49ers’ greats Joe Montana and Steve Young hated the shotgun formation for much the same reason.
Added Chryst, “There’s a dearth of really good snappers coming out of college, centers that are good at the old hike of the ball. So it gets everyone in sync.”
Don’t get too giddy yet. The last two opponents were the New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens, whose defenses rank 30th and 27th in the league against the pass, respectively.
We’ll know more Thursday night, when the Seattle Seahawks come to Levi’s Stadium in a desperate state. Kaepernick and company haven’t had much success against them lately.
TIGHT QUARTERS: Garrett Celek has taken a back seat to his brother Brent for so long, Other may as well be his first name.
But the younger Celek has started to make a name for himself this month. Two weeks ago, he became the first 49ers tight end to catch a touchdown pass this season, and last week he replaced Vernon Davis as the starter.
“Yeah, I’m not his little brother anymore,” Celek told Balls the other day.
Thirty-year-old Brent plays for the Philadelphia Eagles and is three years older than his brother.
“We text each other — ‘Good job,’ ‘Good job’ — and that’s kind of it,” Garrett said.
At 31, Davis is a ghost of the Pro Bowler that he was two years ago. He hasn’t scored a TD since the first game of the 2014 season. That’s 408 days ago for those who like to score at home.
“No controversy,” coach Jim Tomsula said. “Yeah, no controversy.”
Not yet, anyway.
BRUINS IN RUINS? Once-beaten Cal has aspirations for a rare major bowl appearance, but even with marquee quarterback Jared Goff seeking a rebound after his five-interception struggle at Utah, it can’t afford a free-fall in the stretch drive.
That makes the date at UCLA on Thursday night about as close to a must-win situation as Cal can face at this stage of the season. The Bears have road matchups against Oregon and No. 10 Stanford ahead of them.
Stanford didn’t do Cal any favors with a 56-35 rout of UCLA last week, a loss that bumped the Bruins off the top 20 list. Figure the home team to be loaded for Bears in what has the potential to be a shootout in Pasadena.
TRICKS OF THE TRADE: Louisville coach Rick Pitino was absolutely, positively stunned to hear that, in a recent five-year period, a campus dormitory served as a strip club for his players and ex-recruits.
In her book, “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,” which was released earlier this month, Katina Powell alleges that then-Cardinals staffer Andre McGee paid $10,000 for 22 shows and the opportunity for other favors.
As Powell told ABC’s “Good Morning America,” with “a boatload” of recruits and dancers and “loud music, alcohol, security, cameras” in the dorm, “How could Rick not know?”
Don’t be shocked. This kind of thing has happened in college sports before, and it will happen again. Be even less surprised that it took place at Louisville, whose coach once admitted that he had consensual sex with and paid for an abortion for the woman who later tried to extort him.
The university needs to show Pitino the door before the case unravels, and the sooner it does it, the better.
JUST ASKIN’: When programs coached by heavyweights Pitino, Jim Boeheim, Larry Brown, Jim Calhoun, Steve Fisher and Roy Williams are investigated, what does that say about the state of college hoops right now?
WHY, YOU DON’T SAY: ESPN was late to delve into the Louisville scandal, but it was the first to report that Michigan punter Blake O’Neill hit the ball with 30 pounds of force before Michigan State picked it up and scored on the final play of the game last weekend.
ESPN Sports Science said the last time a punter lost 15 yards on a run from scrimmage, fumbled the ball and had it returned for a game-winning touchdown in a rivalry game on national television was “pretty much never,” the kind of in-depth analysis you can’t get anywhere else.
The World Wide Leader deemphasized columnist Rick Reilly to give us that? Really?
THE LIST: Balls has its own Department of Useless Information, and here are some of its astounding discoveries:
0.0: Percentage of air time that ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi says anything remotely negative about his buddy Tom Brady and former New England Patriots team.
0.01: Percentage that former employee Bill Simmons has something good to say about ESPN that doesn’t promote himself.
6.9: By his estimate, percentage that ESPN fantasy nerd Matthew Berry isn’t the smartest man in the room.
50.0: Percentage that ESPN oldie Chris Berman makes an outdated reference that viewers under 40 have a clue what it means.
100.0: Percentage that ESPN shills for any sports league with which it has a long-term contract.