Colin Kaepernick is supposed to be an elusive difference maker with a big downfield arm who’s all but impervious to the dismal days that dog lesser talents.

But nobody's going to confuse him anytime soon with Joe Montana or Steve Young or, hell, with John Brodie.  

What we saw Sunday at Candestick Park was something quite a bit different than a difference maker with rare talent. What we saw Sunday was the most dismal downfield day by any offense and any quarterback in all of 2013.

Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers lost 10-9 to the statistical dynamo Carolina Panthers Sunday (a game which validated Carolina's No. 1 status in our Quality Stats Power Rankings).

The 49ers lost the defensive struggle behind the worst and most ineffective passing performance by any team and any quarterback in all of 2013. Yes, worse than even the worst produced by the Jacksonville Jaguars or Tampa Bay Buccaneers this year.

Kaepernick and the 49ers produced a woeful 46 net passing yards Sunday on 28 attempts – the average of 1.64 Real Passing Yards Per Attempt was easily the worst by any team in 2013, according to our Quality Stats Big Boards at CHFF Insider.

Along the way they fell to 6-3 in NFC West, 2.5 games behind the division-division leading Seattle Seahawks (9-1) as we move into the second half of the 2013 season.

The Panthers clearly represent one of the toughest defenses in football this year, as we noted this week. In fact, Carolina entered Week 10 in the Top 10 in 20 of 23 of our Quality Stats.

But Kaepernick and the 49ers offense were not merely ineffective on Sunday. They were worse than the worst all season, a season mired with a massive disparity between the elite passing teams like Peyton Manning's Denver Broncos and the horrendous also-ran clubs scraping through personnel trash dumps for starting quarterbacks.

Kaepernick and the 49ers on Sunday were worse than all of them this year.   

He completed 11 of 22 passes for 91 gross passing yards (with 0 TD and 1 INT). He was also sacked 6 times for a loss of 45 yards.

That’s a net of 46 passing yards on 28 dropbacks. And that sucks. But it doesn’t just suck. It’s the suckiest by any team in football this year. He’s a look at the least effective passing performances of 2013:

  • San Francisco 1.64 Real Passing YPA (10-9 loss vs. Carolina, Week 10)
  • Jacksonville 2.28 Real Passing YPA (28-2 loss vs. Kansas City, Week 1)
  • N.Y. Giants 2.65 Real Passing YPA (38-0 loss vs. Carolina, Week 3)
  • Cleveland 2.96 Real Passing YPA (31-13 loss vs. Green Bay, Week 7)
  • Miami 3.02 Real Passing YPA (27-17 loss vs. New England, Week 8)

Clearly, the performance is not all on Kaepernick. Not at all. We get that. Don't need the emails and Tweets saying otherwise. It’s a team game. One player does not a team make. And it’s hard to get the ball downfield when you’re getting run over like a piece of asphalt at the mercy of a steam roller.

But Kaepernick is supposed to be an elusive quarterback with a big downfield gun – a difference maker who can change the outcome of games with his physical talents no matter the circumstances. That's why he took over at QB for a Super Bowl-contending 6-2-1 team despite virtually zero experience.

He’s not supposed to be the most critical part of a the least effective passing performance in all of 2013.

But that’s what he was on Sunday: the big cog in the worst downfield passing effort of the year.

Here's how bad it was: there have been 144 NFL games this season heading into the primetime Week 10 showdown Sunday. Of those 144 games, only five teams this year averaged fewer than 1.64 yards per rush attempt. Yet that's all the 49ers could muster every time they dropped back to pass on Sunday. 

It's an outcome that calls into question San Francisco's Super Bowl chops here in 2013; and clearly elevates Carolina's potential in the eyes of the Pigskin Public, a week after we declared them the most statistically imposing team in football this year.