Kaepernick a winner on third down

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Quarterbacks make their reputation on third down.

Can they or can’t they?

Thursday night, Colin Kaepernick, under fire for leading a San Francisco 49ers offense that had scored a total of 10 points in its previous two games, was dominant on third down in a 35-11 victory at St. Louis.

The 49ers relied on 153 rushing yards by Frank Gore. But Kaepernick added 167 yards through the air to supplement the offensive attack. And Kaepernick did most of his damage on third down.

He completed 7 of 10 passes for 98 yards on third down, and both of his touchdown throws came on third down. His average completion yardage was good for a first down. His passer rating was 140.8 and his Total QBR was 99.5.

Kaepernick’s performance in the game, and in particular on third down, should quiet the critics. Any quarterback who dominates on the most critical down is a quarterback who is going to play for a long time.