For a large portion of this past offseason one of the hot topics of debate was the staying power of the read option. Is it an evolving trend or a passing fad? What will head coaches and defensive coordinators do this season to combat it? Will linebackers continue to look like lost children while trying to figure out if the quarterback handed the ball off or not?
Coming into this season it was widely expected that read option quarterbacks like Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick would continue to run the ball until somebody found a way to stop them. Jim Harbaugh even made statements questioning the rules on attacking read option quarterbacks in the days leading up to the 49ers opener against the Packers, leading everyone to believe Kaepernick would be doing a lot of running. So what did the Packers do? They limited Kaepernick to 22 yards rushing — which might seem impressive if it wasn’t for the fact that Kaepernick threw for 412 yards.
In similar fashion, Russell Wilson only had 7 yards rushing against Carolina. Couple that with Marshawn Lynch only having 43 yards and that’s a rough day on the ground for the Seahawks. Luckily, Russell Wilson added 320 yards through the air, providing just enough to steal a tough east coast road win.
So what does this lack of read option use in the first week of the season mean for Wilson and Kaepernick? Are the Seahawks and 49ers saving their read option attack for their big game this Sunday night? Or are both quarterbacks evolving?
Perhaps Wilson and Kaepernick are starting to show they don’t need to rely on the read option to move the football. Sure, it was only week one but so far it seems like both quarterbacks can manage to control games with their arms and not their legs. In Wilson’s case, he had to win the game with his arm after the Seahawks struggled to find any success in the run game against Carolina. Thankfully, he was up to the challenge.
It should be encouraging to fans for both the Seahawks and 49ers that their quarterbacks don’t need to carry the football to win games. It provides further proof that even if the read option is a fad, Kaepernick and Wilson are not.