Well, the season is over and I just wanted to post my thoughts on it. It's a tough pill to swallow, losing the Super Bowl, but I'll get to it…
The 2012 Off-Season
Naturally, like any offseason, we had so much optimism going in. Our defense was top-notch, we picked up a couple key players, and didn't have any major needs going into the draft.
Our key acquisitions were A.J. Jenkins, LaMichael James, Randy Moss, Brandon Jacobs, and Mario Manningham. Meanwhile, we didn't lose anyone I'd consider significant.
I feel that the logjams that we had at runningback and receiver were especially good moves. We lost Kyle Williams, Mario Manningham, and Kendall Hunter to injury. The lack of depth at wide receiver is what killed us in 2011, but we had strong depth this year. All of our major acquisitions were positive impacts. Brandon Jacobs was cut, of course, but really… in a nutshell, we're talking about our fourth or fifth runningback, who couldn't buy into the team first mentality, and got cut for it. A.J. Jenkins, so far, seems like a questionable pick now, but we drafted him for the long run. We'll know in a year or two if he was worth it or not.
One area of concern I felt we had, but didn't think too much on, was that we didn't have a lot of quality depth at defensive line. I think, that really hurt us in the later stages of the regular season and the playoffs.
The 2012 Regular Season
We started off very hot, dominating both the Packers and Lions. We looked every bit like the perennial Super Bowl favorites, and then all of a sudden we got into a slump against the Vikings and lost that one. Then we came out and blew up both the Jets and Bills, only to get thumped against the Giants… I think if there was a pattern throughout the regular season, is that we had a lot of consistency problems. It's difficult to pin-point exactly where it was, but sometimes it felt like the team just came out flat… In some ways, that weird phenomena seemed to show up in the playoffs too…
When we look back at Coach Harbaugh's decision to bench Alex Smith for Colin Kaepernick, it's going to be something that we'll all debate for years. Clearly, it's a case of whether or not the team would be better off having a more efficient offense under Alex Smith, or a more explosive offense under Colin Kaepernick.
I think in the long-run, obviously, the plan was always Colin Kaepernick. You look at the speed that we acquired in the draft, with LaMichael James and A.J. Jenkins, and you see that Kaepernick was always the long-term plan. I knew as good as Alex Smith was last year, we were going to find a quarterback of Harbaugh's choice, he'd build him up, and that would be the guy. However, it came as a surprise when Kaepernick, thought to be a raw prospect, became the starting quarterback this season. I thought it was going to be another year or two, but it appeared he was a bit more ready than originally thought.
But these are my final thoughts on "the decision": If our defense was playing at the level they played at last season, then I would've said that we should've kept Alex. But the fact is, our defense did NOT play at the same level late in the year. I think Alex could've done a better job of controlling the clock and efficiently putting up points, but the 49ers still would've been down against the Falcons and Ravens. Would it have been 17 and 22 point deficits? I doubt it, but I think we still would've been down. I think, with the defense not being as strong this year, we needed more explosiveness from our offense. This decision probably was displayed very well in the playoffs.