Are the 49ers going through an identity crisis with Colin Kaepernick at quarterback?
That's the opinion of NFL Network analyst and former NFC West rival quarterback Kurt Warner, speaking Sunday on "NFL GameDay Morning."
"I don't want to discount San Francisco because I still think they are a very, very good football team, but for me, the playoffs come down to the quarterback position," Warner said. "Right now, I see a quarterback in Seattle (rookie Russell Wilson) that is playing great football, but he has an identity.
"I see a San Francisco team since they made the quarterback switch, I'm not really sure what they want to be. I see that quarterback play, they want to attack down the field. The last two games, Kaepernick has thrown 12 passes of 20 yards or more down the field. In his first four games, he only threw six total.
"He seems to be a guy that wants to attack down the field -- that's what he brings to the table. But it changes the way they play defense, it changes the way they've always played offense, which is run the ball first, ball control, don't turn the ball over. I see a team in a little bit of disarray trying to find their identity again with a new quarterback and I don't see that in Seattle. I see a team that knows what they want to be and they're doing it very, very well."
The 49ers were 6-2-1 in games Alex Smith started. They're 4-2 with Kaepernick, with four of those games on the road. Smith started five games against teams with win percentages of .500 or better, while Kaepernick has four starts against teams at .500 or better. But the strength of schedule of Smith's opponents was .485, while Kaepernick's opponents were .573.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, the 49ers' offense has been similar regardless of which quarterback has been taking the snaps. The 49ers averaged 5.44 plays per drive with Smith at quarterback, compared to 4.58 plays with Kaepernick. Those drives accounted for 1 more yard with Smith.
The biggest difference is in the red zone. With Smith, the 49ers scored touchdowns on 63.6 percent of their trips inside the opponents' 20-yard line. That figure entering Sunday's season final is 45.5 percent with Kaepernick. The 49ers have been slightly better on third downs with Kaepernick, 35.9 percent to 35.2 percent.