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Kaepernick starts as 49ers fall to Bucs
49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick starts his first home game since last season against the Buccaneers Sunday. The Bucs beat the Niners 34-17. - photo by CANDY PADILLA/ The Journal

There are signs of progression for the San Francisco 49ers, but it’s sporadic. 

With quarterback Colin Kaepernick under center on Sunday, the 49ers looked at times, especially in the opening quarter, like a capable offense. But it didn’t last long enough to secure them a victory.

With the team's 34-17 loss on Sunday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the 49ers now look into a bye week to help restructure the positive glimpses seen by Kaepernick and the rest of the offense.

“We did really well on that first drive, we got in a rhythm and got rolling, picking up some first downs and made some good plays,” said Kaepernick. “Then after that we just got out of sync, it was a situation where we lost that and we didn't execute the same and it’s something we need to do a better job of, playing that full 60 minutes.”

During certain moments in the game Kaepernick showed that the offense with his ability can thrive. His ability to shuffle and throw on the run from either the left or right side became apparent. In other words, he looked like he did during his glory years at University Nevada-Reno, executing difficult plays after stepping up from the pocket to tuck the ball and sprint down the field for yardage.

Sunday was a great example after the 49ers took an early 14-0 lead in the first quarter but then it all came down.

The offense and defense looked deteriorated after that as the injuries piled on, especially in the second half. A combination of that along with turnovers, and multiple dropped passes led to the teams’ sixth straight loss.

“We are a 1-6 team,” said Kelly who has never lost six straight as a head coach. “You are what you are, and we will continue to fight and work hard and we will go play the Saints after our bye week. We have to be able to sustain our ability the entire game and now it’s just spurts and it’s just not good enough.”

The spurts looked promising at times for Kaepernick and his teammates who have made it clear that regardless of the distractions with his protests, they stand behind their quarterback.

“There is no distraction for us,” said 49ers center Daniel Kilgore. “I think what Colin is doing is a great thing and he is doing what he believes in and we all think the same thing, with the issues he is bringing up and there is no issue within the team, it’s just... we got to play better, besides what he is doing on and off the field, we just got to play better.”

It doesn't help that the 49ers are already dealing with 14 injuries after Sunday's loss to Tampa Bay.

“What I want our team to know and what we have to be able to do is stand behind each other and be able to fight for one another in adverse situations and be able to play for those full 60 minutes,” Kaepernick said.

Over the last two games without Navarro Bowman, the 49ers defense has given up 1,005 total yards of offense to the Bucs and the Buffalo Bills. This makes them last in the National Football League.

Kaepernicks' sparks have been a bit low key, but evident after he rushed for 150 yards in just two starts this year. He is just 22 yards from surpassing Blaine Gabbert’s total rushing yards over five games (172).

Against Buffalo, he had 66 yards on eight carries and was smart enough to slide on occasions to avoid unnecessary hits and punishment. On Sunday, Kaepernick led the team in rushing with 84 yards.

In fact, the only bright spot has been the offensive rushing game. The 49ers rank dead last in total yards, passing yards, rushing yards per game allowed and rank 31st in points per game allowed (31.3) and 30th in total yards per game allowed (407.6).

By average, with starting running back Carlos Hyde out, Kaepernick is the leading rusher on the team with an average of 50 rushing yards per game. Second is DuJuan Harris, who averages 39 and Gabbert, who averaged 34.4. Hyde averaged 71.5 before suffering a shoulder injury.

“It’s a tough thing to point your finger at one thing,” said Kaepernick. “It comes down to execution and making plays.”

Kaepernick was also asked in the press conference if he believes that the recent NFL ratings are the lowest they have ever been, in large part because of his protest.

“I don't know much about ratings and how they are affected and all of those things, but I don't understand why ratings would go down,” he added. “Fighting for justice for people and trying to stop oppression, especially in a league that is predominately black.”

After the bye week, the 49ers will host the New Orleans Saints at 1:05 p.m. Nov. 6.