Niners dominate Bears, what lies ahead?

Nov 19, 2012 at 10:33 PM

Fresh off the 49ers' 32-7 romp of the Bears in Candlestick, reaffirming their spot among the NFL's elite, the media hysteria begins. Kaepernick or Smith? But before we go there, let's get to some of the key points from Monday Night.

  • Kaepernick. What can you say that isn't being said. The kid from Nevada had as good of a debut as you hope for as a QB. A dominating win with incredible numbers that include 2 TD passes, over 240 yards, and NO turnovers. Most importantly, this was in his first start, under the bright lights of Monday Night, going against one of the top 2 defenses in the league. Was very smart, had great pocket presence, and was very accurate all night. He should have even had a few more completions but just missed on a couple throws to Davis and rifled one pass so hard across the middle that it ricocheted off Moss' hand and likely caused a jammed or broken finger. Incredible stuff, the kind of stuff fans marveled at the prospect of when the Niners moved up in the 2nd round to draft him in 2011.
  • Aldon Smith. Aldon Smith should have won Rookie of the Year last year. Anyone who watched the 49ers consistently enough last year knew that. This year, he's making his case for defensive player. 5.5 sacks tonight, a new Monday Night record. You have to take into account that Smith benefited greatly from that porous o-line (namely the one and only, Chilo Rachal) but regardless, Aldon was back to his un-caged ways, dominating whoever was in front of him with speed and relentless power
  • Vernon Davis. Davis finally emerges from the shadows and gets re-acclimated with the offense. The leading receiver of the night was up to his usual ways, darting through coverage and making teams pay for mismatches. Kaepernick had several nice throws to him and had he notched one more, we'd be talking about 2 TD's for VD instead of one.
  • Entire Team. The 49ers would have beaten any team, on any field with a night like tonight. This is the game that shows you just how good the 49ers are at their best. The pass rush that all but disappeared in 2012 came back with a vengeance. Sure, it was at the expense of a weak Bears offensive line, but it was unyielding dominance nonetheless. Coverage in the secondary was very good but with the way the front seven was playing, I could have had a shut down kind of night. That's not to take away from them, it's just speaking to the show the defensive line and linebackers put on. Last but not least, the offensive line. They are a immeasurable reason why Kaepernick had the night he had. They stonewalled the Chicago defense in the passing game and steamrolled on run plays. Anthony Davis continues to push for the Pro Bowl.

It's easy to write the highlights of a 32-7 game, but now let's look from the other side of the table. Firstly, the defensive line's performance has to be tempered with the fact that Chicago's offensive line is atrocious. Secondly, neither starting QB was playing. That's not to say the Niners wouldn't have won in a Smith vs. Cutler contest (because I'm certain after watching this that they would have), it's just something to consider. Thirdly, while it's easy to jump on the "Kaepernick is the new Steve Young, start him now" bandwagon, it's also important to remember that:

1. The Bears had very limited film on Kaepernick and could have really been goosed by Smith being rule out.

2. The defense and offensive line played astoundingly well. There's no question Smith would have won this game as well. 32-7? Maybe not, but this was a team win and one that would have happened regardless of who was behind center.

3. Alex Smith, although not nearly as electric, has proven consistency. Kaepernick put on the game of his life, no doubt, and the future looks incredibly bright, but Smith led this team to its initial resurgence last year and was seconds away from a Super Bowl. This year, he ranks only behind Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers in QB rating. He also continues to be smart and careful with the football. Most importantly, he has won the respect of many a teammate. These players now go to war for him and have confidence in him as a general. Once you start shifting QB's, this creates a rift--especially when the change occurs during injury. I'm not saying this doesn't make the seat hot for Smith, but for the sake of this team right now, making hasty decisions after one game of evidence could prove to be damning.

Harbaugh likely made the post-game comments he did out his own shrewd nature. Why tell the media or the Saints who is going to play next weekend? Much like this week, Harbaugh makes a move to keep the opponent guessing and spread their practice time thin by preparing for two different QBs.

The Niners desperately needed this game not only to keep pace in the NFC top-seeding race, but to also reestablish confidence. They got that and a whole lot more. This is the kind of game teams like to use as a springboard and with remaining games that include visits to New Orleans, New England, and Seattle, they'll have to sustain that momentum for a while.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • skd
    I agree with Ceadder and Steve, Alex is our starter and when he comes back we should ride out with him. This performance will no doubt get him itching to come back and play as well as he has all season, and just maybe get him to be a bit less conservative throwing downfield. We should use Kaep like we have all season, maybe using a little bit more of a base offense instead of a wildcat when he comes in. The future looks bright yes, but the PRESENT is now and we can win a Super Bowl this year with Alex.
    Nov 21, 2012 at 3:39 AM
    Response: I hear you. It's a very tough call to be honest. There's that part of you that's dying to see Kaepernick start another game and get the nod. But you have to consider everything else that hinges on that and keep in mind that it was one game (albeit an incredible one) and the offensive line demolished the Bears front seven all game. Few were happier than me when this team drafted Kaep with the 2nd round pick, I just don't know if we can throw him into the lineup right this minute without it having ramifications. One of the other deciding factors that hasn't been mentioned is that Smith has playoff experience. Is experience everything? No (see Smith's performance last year against the Saints), but it does provide its advantages.
  • Wayborn Johnson(Taylor)
    My cousin John Taylor gave a performance for all time would respect a quarterback like that. Email me John
    Nov 20, 2012 at 10:00 PM
    Response: John Taylor's cousin?! Glad to have you check out the article. Give our regards to the most underrated wide receiver of all time.
  • Pete
    the bears tried putting 8 or 9 players in the box. That caused man on man coverage by their corners. Vernon Davis, was allowed to slip off the line and was either not covered or was covered by a linebacker. Colin K. read the defense and audibled well at the line of scrimage. on offense the bears didn't keep a running back in to protect the quarterback. They are lucky he got out in one piece. Great game plan by 49er coaches! poor game plan by Lovie Smith's coaches.
    Nov 20, 2012 at 7:48 PM
    Response: Agreed. This may have been the best game Roman has ever called. EVERYTHING worked. Part of that is due to the Bears' clear lack of effective preparation, but an incredible game by Roman nonetheless.
  • onemoretime
    I want to know who your connection is? It is apparent you are on the finest, numero uno. I Haven"t seen Q.B play like that in S.F since Montana.' Smith has never come remotely close to playing at that level. I wanted him to but its not very likely. Give Kap the credit he deserves. Or trade him like you chose Smith over Rodgers. On the Primo Lets keep Smith. Put him and Kap on the market. See how much you know. Its time to move on can't have two starters. What it gonna take. For the lost and forlorne. The talent is at the door. Shades of Greatness. I saw it.
    Nov 20, 2012 at 4:35 PM
    Response: In English next time, please. Those that are trying to frame this as a "pro-Alex Smith" article are misinformed and clearly cherry picked what I wrote.
  • Ninerdawg
    Kap isnt ready?? That 57 yard completion to Williams, Smith doesn't make that throw, or to Vernon or Crabs in the end zone. Look, the Alexscuses are running rampant!!
    Nov 20, 2012 at 3:43 PM
    Response: Please note where I wrote Kaepernick isn't ready. He clearly looks ready and I heaped praise upon him for his performance. All I said is that for the sake of consistency and keeping things copacetic in the locker room, Smith has earned the right to ride out the starting spot until he proves he's not deserving of it.
  • Enzo
    This is what I saw..and I saw with my 2 eyes wide open. Kaepernick stood tall against the No.1 Defense (prior to this game) and took it apart. Kudos to the O-line. He was confident in throwing those balls to tight coverage. He delivered the ball with accuracy where the receivers doesn't have to break open, wait & overreach. He read the field well, went through his progression, used his legs to break free and became a pocket passer to solidify his case. For some reason I wasn't worried about 3rd downs & Redzone scoring anymore. Now why do I feel totally opposite when Smith is under center? Just a thought...
    Nov 20, 2012 at 12:24 PM
    Response: Agreed. Kaepernick played exceptional and possesses a different skill set than Smith thanks to his cannon of an arm and top-level speeds. As you noted, the o-line had a lot to do with this. That's not to take anything away from Kaepernick's spectacular night because the o-line can't help your accuracy, read progressions or decision making. But it's worth noting that he had a lot of time, time that I'm sure Smith would have also taken advantage of. Would Smith have scored that many points and made the same throws? Likely not. It's easy to bash Smith in light of Kaep's stellar performance but the bottom line is that the 49ers have 2 talented, starting-caliber QBs on the roster. It's a great problem to have.
  • Ceadderman
    And let's not forget that Changing QBs' was how Sing got fired. It led to his eventual meltdown on the sideline during the Rams away game. Yelling at Troy Smith who didn't even want to listen to him. Sometimes it's best to stay with the man you named the Starter when he is once again healthy. People are just so worn out from the Nolan/Singletary era that they don't want to give Smith the benefit of the doubt. Not even the media. Even after Smith turned in a remarkable Season by previous results. 5 INTs' all season long last year. He's proven that he deserves the chance to be great. But alot of 9er fans think every QB has to live up to the Montana/Young years. When did they ever turn in a 600 yard day? I love you all but you need to be slapped back to reality. Stop guzzling the Koolaid. Smith has done positive things that no 9er QB has ever done. So long as the play calling is balanced and not overly cute he gets solid results. Nolan and Sing were so far out of their depth it wasn't even funny. At least Sing was. Nolan might still have panned out because we still have a lot of the pieces that he drafted playing for this team. But on the sidelines they were out of their depth.
    Nov 20, 2012 at 10:45 AM
  • Ceadderman
    Great Win by Kappy. Pretty impressive. But let's not get ahead of ourselves and lose perspective. Roman is hot and cold for balanced play selection. Last night he was on fire. Everything he called pretty much worked. As great as Kappy played for a 2nd year QB, he didn't do anything that Smith hasn't done or could not do. He gives us no more a shot to Win the game than Alex does. He had the same statistical average that Smith puts up from a week to week basis. 2 TD's 249 yards. He is no more mobile than Smith. We don't have enough information to name him the Starter based on one game where the Bears Defense was clearly gassed from the end of the 1st Quarter on. They still played extremely hard. And Kappy threw some in the dirt, held onto the ball too long and threw the checkdowns as well. Couple of times missing an open read. I am not raining on his parade. Think the kid played a hell of a game, but if Roman weren't so damned hot an cold on play selection over the season Smith would probably look even better. An how about the OLine? Finally giving the Starter a clean pocket to throw from for most of a game. That hasn't happened at all until now against the tougher opponents.
    Nov 20, 2012 at 10:34 AM
    Excellent article. It's refreshing to read commentary that doesn't include an excessive overreaction and calls for CK as the next Steve Young.
    Nov 20, 2012 at 8:12 AM
    Response: Thanks much. I'm on neither side of the Smith/Kaepernick divide. I simply want whats best for the team and what will mesh both on the field and in the locker room. Right now, it's easy to say that Kaepernick looks like the next big thing... because he does. However, you dance with who brought you. Smith has earned the right to start, and that right is his unless he proves otherwise. Kaepernick's performance was as good as you could ask for, but Smith hasn't been too shabby either despite some who think the contrary. You don't rank third overall in QB rating if you're mediocre. This definitely adds significant heat to Smith's seat, but making hasty decisions in the short term could have monumental impact on the long term.
  • Edd
    Your 3-point defense of Alex Smith, while touching, doesnt take into account that Kaepernick has the higher upside to WIN games. Every body assumes that Harbaugh wants a "game manager", but what Harbaugh really wants is "wins". Kaepernick offers the better skills to win.
    Nov 20, 2012 at 6:40 AM
    Response: I'm pretty sure that I heaped praise upon Kaepernick and his performance in that first bullet. I'm a supporter of the 49ers which means I support whatever QB Harbaugh decides to trot onto that field. My concern isn't even with who plays, it's what the ramifications are of whoever plays. It's really a lose-lose. If you play Kaepernick and things don't work out, part of the locker room goes sour and the media jumps all over you. If you play Smith and it's not working out, the fan base and media clamor for Kaep. I was simply noting that it's a precarious situation and one in which it might be best (for the immediate future) to let Smith return from his injury when he's able and reclaim the starting job. If his performance falters, you can always insert Kaep. You just don't want to bench out of injury because it sends the wrong message to other players and shakes their convictions in the coaching staff.

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