Spying the quarterback

From the Packers’ perspective, the biggest reason they lost on Sunday was their inability to contain Colin Kaepernick when he scrambled.

The Packers’ coaching staff, and defensive coordinator Dom Capers in particular, did not assign a “spy” to Kaepernick in their original game plan. And once they saw him running around and breaking down their defense, they never made an in-game adjustment to incorporate a spy.

Even if they had assigned a spy, the spy has to be able to catch Kaepernick. Maybe the Packers felt they didn’t have a player, other than one of their cornerbacks, who could catch him, although their inside linebacker, Brad Jones, ran a 4.54 at the NFL Combine and Kaepernick ran a 4.53.

The Packers didn’t maintain pass rush lane integrity, either. That means they gave up cavernous paths for Kaepernick to escape the pocket. Edge rushers wildly rushed upfield and lost containment on the outside, or both inside rushers tried to get upfield to sack Kaepernick as opposed to having one interior rusher proceed with a controlled rush to cover escape paths and minimize where Kaepernick could go. You can’t have all pass rushers on the same level and you can’t lose lane integrity against a fast quarterback like Kaepernick, otherwise he can run uncontested.

The 49ers play the Panthers next week. They played each other Week 10, and both defenses spied the opposing quarterback on third down — Luke Kuechly or Thomas Davis spied Kaepernick, and NaVorro Bowman or Patrick Willis spied or blitzed Cam Newton. As a result, Kaepernick rushed for just 16 yards and Newton rushed for just 15.

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