Colin Kaepernick: Offensive rhythm is good, but we have to win games

"It's good offensively to get in a rhythm like that," Colin Kaepernick said. "It's something we can build off moving forward." Gavin Baker/Icon Sportswire

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- San Francisco 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin came up to his stewing quarterback Colin Kaepernick this past week with some sage advice only a 13-year veteran could offer.

Have fun and be yourself.

“I told him that,” Boldin said. “I didn’t want him to put pressure on himself. I told him to just put it on us. Let us make the plays for you. Just take the pressure off of yourself and go out and have fun and let it rip.

“He did a great job of that tonight.”

Kaepernick started slow, but as he started taking advantage of the New York Giants' soft middle with short- and mid-range passes while making clear and concise reads under duress, he gained confidence.

Then he started taking deep shots, which opened up the running game.

It was almost a storybook ending, as Kaepernick engineered an 80-yard touchdown drive in seven plays that seemed to win the game for the Niners on Carlos Hyde’s 2-yard plunge with 1:49 to play.

Alas, there was too much time left and Eli Manning's 12-yard dagger to Larry Donnell with 21 seconds left was the actual game-winner. The Giants pulled out the 30-27 victory in front of 78,515 at MetLife Stadium Sunday night.

And while no one in the 49ers locker room will admit to imbibing in moral victories, this is as close as it gets for Kaepernick, especially after his nightmarish past two weeks in which he threw five interceptions, including a pair of pick-sixes.

“It’s good offensively to get in a rhythm like that,” Kaepernick said. “It’s something we can build off moving forward. But we have to win games. That’s why we play.”

Baby steps first, though, right?

“I took that as ‘allow us to make plays,’” Kaepernick said of Boldin’s challenge. “And that’s what he did tonight. Our receivers went out and made plays for us tonight. Our tight ends did. Our offensive line played great. And Carlos [Hyde] ran the ball well for us. Offensively, we played a pretty well-rounded game.”

Kaepernick’s 107.1 passer rating was his highest since last season’s finale, his third-highest since last year’s opener.

“Kap did a hell of a job with how he bounced back,” said receiver Torrey Smith, who had two catches for 42 yards. “He put us in a position to win.

“I’m proud of him.”

Kaepernick completed 23 of 35 attempts for 262 yards and two touchdowns with a turnover after committing six in the previous three games. He also rushed for 23 yards on three carries.

Plus, his 3-yard touchdown pass to Boldin, who caught eight passes for 107 yards, in the third quarter to tie it up at 13-13 was his first TD pass of the season against the blitz.

“Kap was on tonight,” Hyde said. “And when he’s on, I’m able to make plays.

“When a quarterback smiles, you’ve got to smile, too ... that’s our leader.”

Indeed, Hyde rushed for 93 yards, with 81 yards coming after halftime, or when Kaepernick found his groove.

And that was key. Because when things went bad for Kaepernick the previous two weeks, he seemed to withdraw into a shell. The Niners, in a way, put a protective shell around him, allowing him a chance to ease his way into the game. Many of his early throws were behind the line of scrimmage, or even 5-yard outs that got him in a rhythm.

His teammates noticed. The pressure that seemed to be enveloping him started to dissipate with every made play, every completion.

“To me, I have to go back out and play football,” Kaepernick said. “It’s a game at the end of the day. It’s not life or death. I go out and I go to play. I play to win and I do everything I can to try and help this team win.”