First and foremost, clearly the 49ers have a luxury (or a “good problem”) that a lot of teams would absolutely love to have. Due to good management, coaching, and excellent drafting by Harbaugh, Balkee, and the San Francisco front office, they now have young players down on the depth chart, even on the practice squad (i.e.: LaMichael James and AJ Jenkins) that can likely step in an be playmakers right now in the NFL. The fact that Aldon Smith (this year’s current sack leader) and Colin Kaepernick (traded up to get him) were their first two picks in the 2011 Draft clearly shows that someone knows exactly what they are doing in the 49ers organization. It’s obvious that Kaepernick is a special talent who will be a big part of the 49ers’ future, and I couldn’t be more happy to be a 49ers fan right now. Once again, my 49ers got the under-valued quarterback as I wish they had gotten in Aaron Rodgers. It’s pretty clear that Jim Harbaugh has an eye for quarterback talent and flat out knows how to coach the position.
Who would you rather & who gives them the best chance to win right now…? ummm…
I may be a fan of Alex Smith, but I am a 49ers fan first and foremost. I’m not blind to the fact that Kaepernick can make two or three plays a game that Smith cannot make due to C.K. being bigger and having slightly more athletic ability. But, at the same time there may be two or three bad plays every game that Smith won’t make as well, due to his experience and time-tested ability to take care of the football and move the chains. But, even when taking emotion out of the equation, this is still a very difficult question (and it’s not as black and white as many would think). Good cases could be made for both guys to start (if you don’t agree, you don’t watch enough 49ers football). I truly would not be disappointed to see either player behind center at this point. Yes, I know that my opinion may be considered “sitting on the fence” as some would say, but it’s a true statement and it’s how I honestly feel on the topic (even when taking my feelings for Smith out of the equation). Here’s why….
If Kaepernick were to go, I would miss things from Smith, such as his ability to check off to the perfect play and orchestrate the offense to perfection. Alex has a tremendous ability to move the chains with consistency, make clutch throws as well as game-winning drives when asked. I would also miss the way Alex takes care of the football, never putting the defense in bad situations, which is another reason why the 49ers’ defense has been so successful at keeping other teams off the board. There is also something to be said for having playoff experience, which Alex Smith now has.
At the same time, If Smith were to go, I would miss a lot of things from Kaepernick, such as the obvious talents that everyone sees on highlight reels. His arm strength along with his ability to escape from pressure and make throws further down the field are unrivaled in this organization. He’s shown tremendous leadership abilities and clearly has learned a lot under Harbaugh and working behind Smith for the past two seasons. He’s absolutely the future quarterback of the 49ers (next season and beyond), as they drafted him in the second round for a reason.
The more that Harbaugh continues to give Kaepernick the nod, the more I would like him and the 49ers to stick with the second year man (as Jim is likely to do). If they want to make the move to Kaepernick this season, there couldn’t have been a better time to do it, as he’ll now have a few weeks to refine his skills before the playoffs; which is where the move is expected to pay dividends.
Can’t we just let the real expert decide?
Obviously down the road, Kaepernick is the guy I want to see as the 49ers’ QB. But as far as this season goes, #7 is doing a lot to convince me he is ready to take the reigns right now. Kaepernick showed a lot of poise, and he did a great job running the 49ers offense on the road in a loud stadium using hand signals and a silent count. Nobody can argue that playing the Saints — regardless of their lousy defense — is different in New Orleans than at home. Kaepernick once again, did even more to convince me that he can get it done in big spots, including on the road, if need be.
However, my instincts as a 49er fan are telling me that I should leave it to the real expert and trust Jim Harbaugh’s decision. After all, he knows better than I do when it comes to the quarterback position and who is best fit the lead the 49ers the rest of the way. The fact of the matter is that Harbaugh probably knows better than every single person writing on this topic when it comes what’s best for the 49ers this season and down the road. Leave it in the hands of the real expert says this 49er diehard. After all, anything less then a 49ers Superbowl and the media circus will second-guess his decision, regardless of who he chooses.
The media attention, voiced opinions, and over-analyzing….
The media attention and non-stop over-analyzing of this whole thing is interesting for many reasons. Once thing is for sure; no sports writer will misspell the name of Colin Kaepernick ever again. The media attention surrounding this “quarterback controversy” (and the arguments for both players as the 49ers starter) is true testament to how well Smith really has played this past two seasons. Kaepernick has performed brilliantly since getting his opportunity, and the fact that many are still arguing for Smith (after most analysts have argued that the 49ers were great everywhere “except the quarterback position”) shows that Smith had done his job well above the mean for a quarterback in the NFL. The media isn’t exactly badgering the Eagles right now about the possibility of Michael Vick losing his job to Nick Foles. Perhaps this is because the Eagles aren’t winning, but what is a better measuring stick for a quarterback than wins and losses?
Alex Smith = Professional
With all that being said, Smith has handled this whole situation and media frenzy with a lot of class and character as he has done throughout his entire career. He has played solid and smart football, ran an evolving and complex offense to perfection, and led the 49ers to a lot of wins, and even took them to an NFC Championship (a loss which was not on him). Call him a “Game Manager” all you want and talk about his limitations as a passer (he’s not as limited as most think). There’s a lot of teams, even playoff contenders, that would take #11 as their starting quarterback right now. As a 49ers fan and a sports fan, I will always root for Alex Smith no matter who he plays for. Anyone rooting for his demise is likely doing so out of spite or malevolence. At only 28 years old, Smith will start somewhere again and he’ll be twice as hungry. In the meantime, he’ll likely paid roughly $4 million a year to stand on the sidelines while helping Kaepernick along (as he has done the past two weeks); which also shows his leadership qualities and commitment to his team’s success.
Many important things get ignored and over-shadowed.
Due to this whole “controversy” and all the focus on the quarterback, many important factors get ignored. First, the media pays less attention to the play on the field. The 49ers defense once again performed brilliantly. Two weeks ago, the consensus was that the Chicago defense may be the top defense in the league because of their ability to turn the ball over and create points. Since then, the 49ers have forced four interceptions, scored two touchdowns and a safety in only two games. Meanwhile, Aldon Smith alone has netted seven sacks in those same two games. They continued to show the league that they may have the most ferocious defense in the NFL. Take a defense like this that also feels under-appreciated, and who knows what we may see on Sunday against the Rams (hopefully, it’s not another tie)!
Also overshadowed this week were the injuries of Kendall Hunter and Kyle Williams, which are major factors in the 49ers offense. These injuries will result in rookies AJ Jenkins and LaMichael James being added to the active roster. It also resulted in the first carry for free-agent signing, Brandon Jacobs on Sunday.
Haters will hate, but the 49ers’ stock is rising.
There are many jealous haters and media pundits who are looking to see this thing blow up in Jim Harbaugh’s and the 49ers’ face. However, these people will likely continue to be disappointed, as it’s clear the 49er organization is (and continues to be) on the right track. They’re now the favorite in the NFC to reach the Superbowl despite not having the best record and playing in a weaker division. The presumed removal of Smith from the payroll next year will allow for the 49ers to make moves such as signing safety Dashon Goldson, the next big move after their recent signing of Navarro Bowman to a long term deal. While some hope this “quarterback controversy” will end up dividing the 49ers locker room, it will likely end up doing the opposite. The effect of the outside world putting a microscope on a team of well-trained athletes who have achieved success as a group often creates an “us against the world” mentality in the locker room and ends up bringing a team together, rather then dividing it. At the same time, the effect that things like this will have on a team severely depends on wins and losses. Then there are also those media wackos that will speak as if anything less then a Superbowl win means that Harbaugh made the wrong choice. However, as long as Kaepernick can stay healthy over the next few years and get some playoff experience under him, excitement from 49ers fans will likely continue and we’ll have something to look forward to each season for years to come. This excitement and buzz around the 49ers is due in large part to the passion and brilliance that Harbaugh has brought to the 49ers organization.