A weekly look at what the San Francisco 49ers must fix.
For the first time in the Jim Harbaugh Era, the Niners will play out the string with games that, while they will count in the standings, are relatively meaningless as they were eliminated from the NFC playoff race with Sunday's 17-7 loss at the Seattle Seahawks.
And yet, the 49ers showed a flash or two of their former selves early in the game, something that, if utilized properly these last two games and, perhaps, by the next coach should Harbaugh be sent on his way, will benefit the Niners.
The zone-read option, which heralded Colin Kaepernick's arrival as a dual-threat quarterback two years ago, showed itself in Seattle. And using Kaepernick's unique skill set should put the Niners in the best position to succeed against the San Diego Chargers on Saturday.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Niners gained 66 yards on zone-read rushes in Seattle, an average of 8.3 yards per rush, compared to 74 yards rushing (3.1 yards per rush) on non-zone read attempts.
"It was a position that we felt we could put our running backs, myself and our offensive line into a positive situation and have big plays," Kaepernick said. "We did move the ball well in the beginning of the game and we have to be able to sustain that for 60 minutes."
But with running back Frank Gore lost to a second-quarter concussion and backup Carlos Hyde felled by a right ankle/back injury in the third quarter, only two of the Niners' last 10 rushing attempts were zone-reads, according to ESPN Stats & Info.