Straight Out of the Rabbit’s Hole: My thoughts on 49ers’ quarterbacks following the Saint’s game

Diego Del Barco
Nov 26, 2012 at 12:00 AM



Out of all the different ways it could had happened, I never saw it coming this way: Alex Smith will no longer be the San Francisco 49ers' starting quarterback.

Ok, if you're still clinging to the hope (all five of you) that he still is, then yes, Jim Harbaugh declined to declare Colin Kaepernick as the permanent starting QB in his post-game press conference just a couple of hours ago, instead stating, "We'll address that later." However, Harbaugh has had plenty of chances to give Smith a vote of confidence since Kaepernick showed a lot of his potential last Monday night against the Chicago Bears, and he has bypassed each and every one of them, instead choosing to play mystery-QB while actually buying himself as much time as possible to evaluate Kaepernick as a starter. Wake up and smell the coffee: anything other than Harbaugh stating Kaepernick will be the team's starting QB going forward will be a surprise. More on Kaepernick later, but for now let's go back to Smith.

I discussed Smith extensively in my first ever piece for 49erswebzone over a year and a half ago. At the time I graded him at a C-, someone who had high standards to meet as a result of his selection as a number one overall pick back in 2005, but who had also survived several years of incompetent leadership and was a better player because of it. He then proceeded to have a career season under Jim Harbaugh's tutelage, and was well on his way to having an even better season this year before suffering a concussion two weeks ago against the Rams. A 6-2 record, the highest completion percentage in the league, the third best QB rating, and also third best in yards/attempt - surely he would be back as the 49ers' starting quarterback once he was medically cleared to play, right? Right. For everything Alex Smith has endured with this franchise, he didn't deserve to lose his job like this. For all the commodities that came with being the number one overall pick (tons of money, basically), Smith has gone through plenty of rough moments in San Francisco, from playing behind awful offensive lines (see: separated shoulder in 2007) and having a limited number of playmakers to throw to, to learning a new offensive system in each of his first six seasons in the league. He could had left the franchise in 2009 or 2011, but both times he chose to come back, refusing to see his tenure in San Francisco have a dark ending. Finally, playing for Harbaugh and a competent offensive staff, Smith shined, showing new leadership skills, becoming and efficient signal-caller while acquiring total control of a new offense, and leading the team on a near-championship run. His performance this season was on track to be better than his career season last year, and after putting in some much work to become the QB he was envisioned as back in 2005, the QB to bring another Super Bowl to the franchise, what did he do to deserve being demoted to backup QB?

Nothing. Kaepernick is just better.

The sample size is short, but what the former Nevada QB has displayed in his two games as a starter has been outstanding. Last Monday the Bears dared him to beat them, and he did just that by completing a number of eye-popping passes with both touch and power. Nonetheless, the Bears (and many of us around the country, really) had underestimated Kaepernick's talent, and he was playing at home behind and offensive line which arguably had their best performance of the season, so I particularly had a lot of questions about how he would perform on the road against a defense that wouldn't misjudge the challenge, and which would be aided by one of the best home crowds in the nation. He responded by having another solid game today against the New Orleans Saints, dealing with all the adversity while producing five different potential scoring drives (two of which were not capitalized by the kicking team). He had some struggles, most notably an ill-advised interception towards the end of the 2nd quarter that was not costly thanks to Ahmad Brooks and the defense, but he also showed that the accuracy he displayed against the Bears was not a fluke. He demonstrated pocket awareness, extending plays, taking off running when he needed to, and helping the offensive line to not give up a sack. His running prowess came in handy when he ran a read-option play perfectly and scored the first touchdown of the game. His stat lines in these two games as a starter look pretty much the same as Alex Smith's in a given game, but it's not what Kaepernick does - it's how he does it.

Perhaps the one aspect of his game that separates him from Alex Smith is his 'jerkiness'. Kyle McLorg (A.K.A. Ruthless Sports Guy - @Ruthless_Sports brought this up during the game, " Remember how Nolan said that Alex Smith was teachable and Aaron Rodgers was cocky? Kaep is cocky. " This is totally correct, Kaepernick chooses to make the throws that Smith chooses not to make. The plays Smith turns into check downs, throwaways, or sacks to avoid a turnover, Kaepernick turns into possibilities with his cockyness. He has an immense amount of confidence in his arm and accuracy, which he displayed nicely in a 2nd&8 play from his own 8-yard line towards the end of the 3rd quarter: on a play-action pass, Kaepernick roped a pass for Michael Crabtree for a 15-yard gain towards the sideline against a Cover 3 look. He did not hesitate and threw the pass above Roman Harper and in front of Jabari Greer where only Crabtree could make the play. This was the first key play in a what turned out to be The Drive of the Game. Later on in the same drive early in the 4th quarter,Kaepernick had perhaps his most impressive pass of the day. It was 3rd&11 from his own 35-yard line, the kind of scenario I dreaded the most for the young QB in this game. On the previous play, he had been dropped for a 1-yard loss running a read-option similar to the one he ran for a touchdown in the 1st quarter. The Saints defense was in a position to get the ball back to their offense in a one-score game with plenty of time left, the crowd was roaring, the stage was set for Kaepernick's demise. Instead he got the ball on a shotgun formation, and (from a perfectly clean pocket, may I add) he threw a beauty of a pass to Delanie Walker 25 yards down the middle of the field against a Cover 2 look, above the linebackers and in front of the safeties, in a spot where Walker could lay out to make a play ...

... to make a play, Colin Kaepernick is the playmaker Alex Smith could never be. He makes up for his lack of experience by bringing all of the play-making abilities mentioned here. He obviously has developed a knowledge of the offense and seems poised in the huddle. He will still struggle every now and then, but not as often as I previously feared. So long as he continues to play within what's needed of him, and this coaching staff will make sure he does, he gives this team the same if not a better chance to win than Alex Smith ever did.

Which is a shame, because many times I saw Smith losing his job due to being put in a position to fail, or because of poor performance, or because a season-ending injury kept him from showing his true potential, but I never saw it coming this way: Alex Smith will lose his job as the starting quarterback of the 49ers because regardless of playing at the highest level in his career, Colin Kaepernick has demonstrated he can play at the same level while showing the potential for even better performance.

One Final Thought

I have a lot of respect for many individual players in the NFL: Trent Richardson for playing his heart out in each and every game for the Cleveland Browns and giving them a chance to win, Adrian Peterson for proving that hard work and dedication can lead you to bounce back from the toughest of the injuries to be better than you ever were before, and many others including Peyton Manning, Steven Jackson, and Larry Fitzgerald. That being said, I may never have more respect for an NFL player than I do for Alex Smith. If his days in a stat sheet for the 49ers are done, I will forever admire the effort he made to live up to the expectations place upon him as a number one overall pick. If it's time for me to turn his final report in, I'll give him a B+ for his 8-year tenure in San Francisco ... with an A+ for effort. He has given his 100% for this franchise - love him or hate him, fans need to recognize that and appreciate it.

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43 Comments

  • onemoretime
    Thank you to your credit you printed my comments. 8 yrs of checkdowns short of the line of scrimmage, not being able to consistantly lead recievers. also a record for field goals. And a lead in being sacked as a legacy. and the A.S. faction insists on sending a forty niner Q.B. who is a "game manager" to the S.B. I will have to however admit he has shown some excellent play at times. But the for the most part the evidence speaks for itself He has been unable to shake the bad A.S. Do you remeber or know the legacy of forty niners and what they have accomplished in S.B play it is unmatched. It is as close to perfection as anyone has come. S.B. 16 was 20-0 until they pulled back. The rest is self-evident. Here's a suggestion for your writing style. You tend to be somewhat condesending. Good-luck. 8yrs what can be next?
    Dec 5, 2012 at 1:50 AM
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    Response: I will always post comments so long as they don't disrespect anyone and don't contain profanity. I understand where you're coming from: you're sick of Alex Smith. I get it, you blame the field goals that got so many wins last season and the sacks he's taken on him, O-line gets a free pass, right? I just don't think you and I can have this argument, you can't tell me he's unable to shake his bad side after what he's done these last couple of seasons. So were Alex to lead this team to a SB title, with say a 10-7 win over Houston, then you'd knock him because he won the title without flare unlike the glory days? That's a rhetorical question, this could go on, and on, and on ....
  • onemoretime
    Shaun Hill plays in the NFL. The facts speak for themselfs. He still making a living in the NFL. Because he's aways had value. Did you see Colin take full resposibility for todays loss. what! Part of it was due to his errent play on a play that never should have been called the other was due to amature officials (the safety) full responsibility never have heard those words from Alex even though he has a boat load of opportunities. Your dismisal of Alex poor play and lack of leadership.is dishonest Then and now it is indicative of poor thinking (avoiding the facts and responsibily or a leaning toward being dishonest and dismissive of the facts. I never seen or heard of Hill being a consistantly poor player. Why dismiss him a inconsequential. When I and others have endured sad stories about A.S. He the one who could not get a contract after leading the niners "one play from the Super Bowl" You would think teams would be fighting to get to front of the line for such a commodity. Your comment about leaving the building ignores the facts at hand. With your adolencent thought pattern I should have expected it
    Dec 2, 2012 at 5:10 PM
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    Response: Just curious, but how do you define "play"? Because last I checked Hill is on a bench. If you've never heard Alex take responsibility for a loss, then you're not watching/reading enough. I don't dismiss Alex's poor play, is the reason why I graded him a C- after his first 6 seasons. Don't you find it ironic that you're arguing for a player whose path has been completely divergent than the one Alex Smith has had since they stopped playing for the same team? I dismiss Hill (tried to) because the argument is senseless and will lead nowhere. Next thing I know somebody will cry foul over Tim Rattay's quick hook back in '05. C'mon man, get over that stuff, we're dealing with the now, Shaun Hill's road does not compare to Smith's.
  • onemoretime
    A.S. should have signed with Miami? (Did anyone make him an offer after the 14-4 record.) when the management sought out manning. The writing was on the wall. I find his readiness to accept credit for the niners 14-4 record offensive. You would think that as a team leader he would be able to give consistant and effusive praise to a team which had left so much on the field to accomplish that record. As for feeling bad for him and all that he had to put-up with and the tons of excuses in his hand-bag. I don't buy it. Shaun Hill was benched after managing all the same circumstances as A.S. Same system same cordinator, same line and on and on. Shuan had a better winning record. I wonder what Shaun Hill could do under these circumstances. A.S. is likely to get his ring this year. Hopefully he will learn the errors of his past,and have enough character to offer effusive praise to those who have brought the Lombardi trophy back to the long suffering fans of Forty-niners
    Dec 1, 2012 at 2:33 PM
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    Response: You have left the building. HE takes credit for the 14-4 record? Shaun Hill? Shaun Hill??? nevermind
  • Paul
    Smith is a solid game manager. It is hard to always have a reminder of the Niners mistake choosing Smith over Rogers. Randy Moss feels like a waste with Smith at QB. I feel bad for Smith. I don't agree with you shouldn't lose your job to injury.
    Nov 28, 2012 at 1:15 PM
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    Response: the Smith-Rodgers argument is not that easy Paul, you need to take into account Rodgers going through what Smith went through (starting for that pathetic 05 team, different OC's for his first 6 years, possibly getting his shoulder separated by Rocky Bernard). Not doing so it's just irrational.
  • Mase
    I think the decision to replace Alex was made a long time ago. Alex was only given 3 years on his extension for a reason. The 49ers have the 27th ranked pass offense in the league!!! That's not the mark of a Super Bowl contender. Alex is good, but he's peaked. Kaep has superstar potential an the "big play" ability Alex lacks. It's better to make the change now so Kaep can gain more in game experience before the playoffs.
    Nov 27, 2012 at 4:52 PM
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  • Fair Oaks
    Alec Smith lost the job in this years loss to the Giants. It showed that the Giants can shut him down, which likely meant no 49ers Super Bowl. The Giants can not shut down all of Kaepernick's skills. With Kaepernick starting, you may have noticed the whole team now is playing like champions. They know they now have a chance to beat anybody.
    Nov 27, 2012 at 12:48 PM
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    Response: "The Giants can not shut down all of Kaepernick's skills." There's no basis whatsoever for this statement, although I'm interested to see the Giants on MNF this week on the road against RG3 and the Redskins.
  • Tom
    Diego, Harbaugh is the best coach for the niners since Walsh. What he is doing with the QB situation has everyone talking. It seems most people are missing the table he has set for his QBs. Alex may or may not have felt his starting position was threatened. Now if he retains his starting position he knows he will have to play less conservative a d make the throws he was reluctant to make in the past. He must now feel make the play or hand over the job to someo e who can. As a team the niners have to feel better that they have a guy at backup who can be a starter for the team. Coaches know what they have now. Kap knows he can play the game at the NFL level and play in hostile places. Harbaugh's decision to play Kap over Alex was just pure gutsy and pure genius. The whole team now knows what they have at QB and if Alex is giving the oportunity to start might feel when giving the opportunity to make the tough throw to convert a 3rd down or make the easy check down throw will gamble and hopefully with confidence. Jim has created a very competitive environment as it should be. This ensure we get our best on the field.
    Nov 27, 2012 at 6:23 AM
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    Response: Definitely think if Smith gets the call we'll definitely see everything he's got left in the tank knowing Kap is ready to take over at any time, agreed.
  • Lespaulguru
    Cool article. Interesting read. Personally. I believe Kap is what we need. He throws better than Alex. Passes are hitting receivers in stride, they aren't having to jump for the pass. With regards to the stats....they are similiar. But the way they play is different. Kap delivers the ball with quickness and crisp. Defense has a hard time reacting to an accurate bullet pass. Alex Smith doesnt throw like Kap. Alex has no touch or velocity on his perimeter passes. New Orleans D played a lot better than a 31st-32nd ranked D. The offense had to work to get the yards they did. Alex may be top 10 in stats. I like the way Kap plays the position. You feel like they can score on every play with him behind center. The real test will be when our D plays like a 31st defense like they did against the Giants and see how our offense responds with Kap behind center. I sense this weekends game will be just that....St. Louis will not be a walk in the park. Fisher is a great coach and will have his team ready for us.
    Nov 27, 2012 at 6:19 AM
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    Response: Thanks. This competition between them is too close to call.
  • a Niner fan not a player fan
    Anyone saying they can't wait until our head coach is replaced because they don't agree with a roster decision that hasn't even been made, is not a Niner fan. They are a player fan. Our coach maybe unconventional, maybe even a bit looney at times but he is a great coach. He deserves more respect than that. Next time you want to bash our coach, maybe you should go back and watch some games from the Nolan/ Singletary era.
    Nov 27, 2012 at 5:28 AM
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    Response: I was a little shocked by that comment too
  • mike kenney
    I love this forum. Your article was lucid and on point & the responses present a broad spectrum of informed opinion. Makes me want to add $.02. Harbaugh is always thinking team and his ethic is competition. He knows qbs as well as anyone breathing(a nod to bill walsh). Don't be surprised to see the unorthodox platooning you rightfully distrust. Kaep has elite talent but needs more experience. Alex is in the top dozen qbs and his caution protects the defense even with low 3rd down conversions. That red zone is the hot issue. Kaep can extend plays that Alex eats. So my conclusion is that Harbaugh gets them both razor sharp for the playoffs. If he needs 30 points a la NO Kaep gets the ball. If we can win w 20 and no turnovers its Smith. He might even play both situationally. He's Harbaugh. Next year it's Kaep, because we need to find cap $ to keep Bowman and Goldson.
    Nov 27, 2012 at 3:53 AM
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    Response: I enjoy the fact that I'm getting all these different opinions. Man, I hope you're wrong ...
  • Lucky Phil
    Diego, Thanks for the words of respect for Alex Smith. If this is the last season for A.S. in SF. he deserves our appreciation for his dedication, perseverance, and loyalty to the Niners. I'll always remember Alex as one of the toughest football players I have ever seen play. He may not look like much but I have never seen a QB take the hits he has taken and gotten up every single time. He has been beaten up by fans and coaches (Nolan & Sing) but always stayed focused and commited to the team. I personally believe we can win a SB with Smith or Kap. Even though Kap is the future superstar, there is a part of me that really wants to see A. Smith win the Super Bowl. This year its the Niners!
    Nov 26, 2012 at 11:13 PM
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    Response: keep it coming guys, it's nice to see Smith get some love from the fan base
  • Nick
    Good article. I feel horribly for Alex. The man is a fighter and has amazingly thick skin for all the criticism he has received in every direction. Alex did nothing to lose the job, but I think that is the most unfortunate thing. He has peaked. He isn't going to suddenly be more explosive, to be a more accurate deep-ball passer, or to stop having his head-scratching moments that he does have from time-ti-time (Giants game, missing Moss against the Seahawks). But Kaepernick brings a new element to this offense; an element that was needed. Teams can now be fearful of us stretching the field. Hopefully Hunter isn't out long, because the rushing attack was flourishing, but Kaepernick makes passes that we have all seen Alex fail to make. I WANT Alex to bring us home a trophy, but I simply feel like Kaep is built for this team. His stat line from Sunday wasn't as impressive against the Bears, but with two defensive touchdowns and at two-score lead in the second half, we were mostly running the ball in the 4th. Had the refs not incorrectly called Crabtree down, and 49er wide receivers held on to the ball in some instances, Kaepernick's stats would have looked very solid.
    Nov 26, 2012 at 9:38 PM
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    Response: good to see more and more people feel this way
  • mikesf
    Your article is interesting. What has not been discuss is the ability for Alex Smith to win coming from behind. The two games the 49ers lost (Vikings, Giants) showed that Smith cannot come from behind like he did last season. The 49ers were behind against the Rams and CK got us a tie. What CK has not shown is he capable of coming from behind (other than the Rams game)? As mentioned by Alan, Alex is solid and steady. However, Alex keeps the score too close for comfort. Outside the Cardinals game, the scores have been very close. The problems that Alex endured prior to Harbaugh are more than anyone should have gone through. However, CK has done one thing more than Alex: converting 3rd down. (Lately, Akers has been killing us and there has been little said about this.) No doubt CK is the future but Smith be allowed a grateful out.
    Nov 26, 2012 at 8:26 PM
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    Response: Well Alex Smith did get his share of comebacks last season, I wouldn't count him out from being able to deliver the same this season regardless of whether he hasn't done it so far. Also, besides the Cardinals game, the Jets and Bills games were not that close either. And finally, since so many people bring up the 3rd down conversion in this argument: The 49ers are 10 of 31(32.25%) on 3rd down with Kaepernick at the helm, 36-95 (37.89% with Smith.
  • Alan
    I hear and read all the talk how Kaepernick will make the offense more dynamic, that's all good for the regular season, it's fun, and we'll dominate teams. However, in the playoffs, your not just going to be explosive and run read options all day. Your going to have to grind your way to points, and manage the game. As you go deeper in the playoffs defenses no matter their regular season rank, gets better and they make teams grind out their points no matter how good or dynamic your offense is. Kaepernick showed me yesterday why I'm nervous with him come playoff time if he starts. He turned a bad play into something worse. Now I understand he got away and avoided sacks, but sometimes the defense wins on a play and thats it, dont make a bad play worse. I think Alex manages the game extremely well, and gets what the defense gives him. In the playoffs we need a QB whose solid and steady, not dynamic and unknown. I'm sure Kaepernick will get his shot next year, but this is Alex's year, I believe and he should be the starter.
    Nov 26, 2012 at 7:30 PM
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    Response: One of the best arguments for giving back the starter position to Smith
  • Lucky Phil
    Right Out Of The Rabit Hole! Nice article Diego, enjoyed it. Here's my thinking on which QB Harbaugh chooses to play Sun. Both of them! He will start Kap. and go with Smith in the 2nd half. Here's why, JH loves competition, He has lots of confidence in both Qb's. and he wants one QB to win the job. Right now both QB's are playing at a high level. Kap is still the better QB in my opinion but that doesn't mean JH is going to hand him the job. He has to outpeform Alex on the same field. And giving Alex the opportunity to come off the bench, gives Alex the opportunity to be the hero. What do you think, Diego?
    Nov 26, 2012 at 7:27 PM
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    Response: I'm happy you enjoyed the article but I hate to disagree with you - these aren't two freshmen in college, and this isn't preseason. These games aren't about figuring out which QB is better, they are about going out there and winning each and every one of them to hopefully earn home field advantage throughout the playoffs, or at least a first round bye.
  • Matt
    The fact that Harbaugh felt comfortable starting Kaepernick even when there was a chance Smith would be healthy is proof of how Colin has closed the performance gap with Alex and that is very good news for the team. Contrast that with Chicago. They couldn't wait to get Cutler back in the lineup! But has Kaepernick proven he is "better" than Smith? If you go by the numbers you have to say absolutely not. Does Colin have more upside than Alex? Maybe, but that is impossible to measure. You know what you have in Smith. He is in the top 10 of QBs in the league and gives you an assurance of relatively consistent quality of play. It's hard to ask for more than that. If I were Harbaugh I would start Smith and continue to work Kaepernick in in special situations. That would give the team the best of both worlds. Then re-evaluate at the end of the season.
    Nov 26, 2012 at 3:42 PM
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    Response: 1) yes it is a luxury to have two capable QB's. 2) Yes it's difficult to argue Smith hasn't done enough. 3) Ultimately it is Harbaugh's call and no one else's. Personally I am not a fan of a 2-QB system or any idea of having the backup QB come in for "special situations".
  • johnny
    Oh diego, your response to a comment before that the offense was "going out and winning" just fine before couldn't be farther from the truth. Our offense is long removed from the days it would win games. With explosiveness we may get back there. Alex doesn't have that, sorry. Our offense all year was just avoiding a loss not trying to win. I know we blew out some teams but that's not because number 11 had a whole lot to do with it. With a defense like we have you can afford to take chances here and there. You can afford a mistake or two (see SF V NO) the window of opportunity in this league closes fast! Our window is open and smith proved last year he can't get us thru it. Close, very close, but not quite there. I don't want a playoff appearance, I want aa title. Alex isn't quite capable of a title unfortunately. Even with a number 1 D and rushing attack. That says something. Alex is THE ultimate backup qb and anyone with half a football mind can see his skills make him a great back up. He doesn't posses the qualities to be a SB winning qb period
    Nov 26, 2012 at 3:18 PM
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    Response: ok now you're calling ME names, but if you want to think I have half a football mind I'll let you have your opinions :-P ... seriously, we disagree that Alex Smith cannot win a Super Bowl with this team, your comment has a lot of things I disagree with but I'll just agree to disagree.
  • johnny
    Ok I have come to love alex and I love his work ethic. Kudos for sticking with us alex and doing your job to the best of your ability. Bottom line is, kaep is better. Is he making mistakes? Sure. Look at it this way, kaep in his 2nd year is making the same mistakes smith is. And he's in his 8th year right? Ok don't agree with that? How many times have u seen us call a lame run play on 3rd & long with alex? With kaep we have the opportunity to pick those up. With alex its either a run, sack or throwaway. When it comes to facing the giants or falcons this post season "efficient" won't be enough PERIOD! When was the last time an efficient qb won a title???? 2000 T. Dilfer. There's a reason the nfl is dominated by the bradys mannings and brees'. One thing you ***** bagging on kaep forgot is that first off the refs blew calls and guys like walker crabs and davis dropped passes that were for big chunks. So before u bash him for winning a game with defensive help, maybe you should have watched the entire game. Kaep is the starter and he should be. I feel horrible for alex but its about what is best for the team point blank period.
    Nov 26, 2012 at 3:07 PM
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    Response: no need for name calling, so I edited the word out
  • Matt
    My bad, Diego. I confused you with another author. You have been fair in the past with Smith. I still think you are jumping on the Kaepernick emotional bandwagon without thinking this through logically, though. After the game, Harbaugh said that Alex sat because his symptoms persisted into the practice week and they had to go with the guy they knew was going to be ready. That's a far cry from sitting Alex even though he is healthy as reported in many locations. As I said, I think the chances of going either way are 50/50 at this point. Definitely not a foregone conclusion as some here seem to think.
    Nov 26, 2012 at 2:04 PM
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    Response: Cool, glad that's cleared because that comment really took me by surprise. I feel like I've taken my time to decide how I feel about Kap, and I don't necessarily WANT him starting over Alex but I have come to terms with it. In the words of Marshall Faulk, which you brought up yourself: it doesn't really matter who plays QB for this team, right? Finally, although Harbaugh hasn't announced a decision, it seems pretty clear to me he's going to keep Kap as the starter. IMO if he was planning to keep Smith as the starter he should have no problems saying so, but instead today he announced he wouldn't make a decision until Wednesday after informing the players first. It's Kap man, some of us have just smelled the coffee before others. Could coach shock most of us and announce Smith gets to be the starter again? Maybe. Would I bet on it? No.
  • nynah
    Alex may have a good completion percentage, but I prefer a lower percentage with more balls thrown out of bounds to avoid the sacks. Alex takes too many sacks and that contributed to his concussions. Harbaugh should sit alex 1 more game to make sure alex can completely recover.
    Nov 26, 2012 at 1:33 PM
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    Response: I agree taking too many unnecessary sacks contributed to the head injury, disagree he'd need to sit 1 more game. He's been medically clear and is two weeks past it, time to get back to work (but as what, exactly?)
  • Terry B.
    And then there were none. AJ finally succumbs. AJ, I hate to break it to you, but Kaepernick is already good. Take off you Alex-colored glasses and just watch the man play. I just hope that he can continue to live up to your double standard.
    Nov 26, 2012 at 11:50 AM
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  • Matt
    One more observation that not many are talking about. In New Orleans, SF won by a 10 point margin and the defense scored 14 points. 2 pick 6s is extremely rare and this game could just as easily have been a narrow loss. If you are honest about this, you have to ask yourself: would we be having this same conversation if Kaep put up the same numbers in the game, but SF came home with a loss? I don't think so. Most would be saying Smith should start.
    Nov 26, 2012 at 11:30 AM
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    Response: Oh no doubt the 14 points from the defense were THE main difference in this game. A sick part of me wanted the Saints to score a TD following Kap's INT just to see how he'd perform in that scenario. There is a lot of unknown still with Colin. And yes, if that scenario had played out and the 49ers lost, maybe this is a different story. But this is what it is. For the record, I would be ok with Smith retaining his position as the permanent starting QB.
  • karen
    have been a fan for at least 40 years, love the team but very disappointed in the way it is being coached as of late. not sure what more harbaugh wants from alex smith, he is the third ranked quarterback in the league and he did have a 13 and 3 season last year and he did take them to the division champs, but because he got a concussion and had to sit out 1 game he was benched,,, really???? and another thing, ted quin jr. is the ball returner, and 1 dropped ball and he was replaced by williams,,, really?? so what harbaugh is saying is that no mistakes or injuries allowed.. well then the rules should apply for all including himself which if he can remember he made a mistake and threw a challenge flag when he wasn't allowed,, was he benched from a game for his mistake,,, no.. really???? wake up.. i have never met a more unappreciative, ignorant, egotistcal kind of coach like him in my life.. will always love the team but will be very glad when the coach is replaced..
    Nov 26, 2012 at 11:14 AM
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    Response: I too am disappointed with the way the situation has been handled, but we disagree on our opinions of coach Harbaugh.
  • Matt
    This article is nothing more than an emotional reaction to the situation with absolutely no facts to back it up. You are judging the QBs on how you feel about watching them rather than on their actual performance on the field. Your bias against Smith is well documented and that is pretty much all you are presenting here. If you look at the numbers objectively, it is clear that Kaepernick isn't doing anything that Smith wasn't already doing. Colin didn't throw for 300 yards in either game and didn't have a better completion percentage than Alex was already averaging. I agree with Marshal Faulk that it doesn't really matter who starts because SF is the same team putting up the same offensive numbers, regardless. The only difference is that Smith bashers nick pick Alex's game to death and gloss over Kaepernick's flaws. I love Kaep, but I think it is presumptuous to assume Alex is done. I think there is a 50/50 chance that Smith starts on Sunday and the depth chart goes back to what it was.
    Nov 26, 2012 at 11:08 AM
    0
    Response: PLEASE show me the documentation of my bias against Alex, I would love to see it. I am making an assumption that Kaepernick will be the starter going forward based on Harbaugh's actions, that is all. If you're looking for an Alex Smith hater, I'm telling you: you've got the wrong guy.
  • Terry B.
    There's no shame in admitting you've been won over by the undeniable and inescapable logic of Terry B.
    Nov 26, 2012 at 8:50 AM
    0
    Response: yeah, definitely not on the same page
  • Jerry
    Good article. Personally, I felt more excited when Kaep became the starter against Chicago. This team is now more fun to watch on the offensive side. Aggressiveness is the key ingredient the offense was lacking and now they have it with Kaep.
    Nov 26, 2012 at 8:29 AM
    0
    Response: Thank you. I was more pumped for the Chicago game, more curious for the New Orleans game.
  • AJ Bolino
    Nicely put amigo. After yesterday, I think you're right. Winning at the Superdome was big...Kaep has a bright future. He's going to new to lean on the D and the running game, but as soon as he figures out how to overcome his weaknesses, he'll be good:)
    Nov 26, 2012 at 8:21 AM
    0
    Response: thanks AJ, look forward to Upon Further Review this week as always
  • Terry B.
    Welcome to the club, Diego. (And then there was one.)
    Nov 26, 2012 at 7:47 AM
    0
    Response: I really doubt you and I are on the same club.
  • Edd
    There has been a dramatic shift from an offense that doesnt make mistakes, to an offense that goes out and wins. You can feel the excitement. Like the Bledsoe/Brady event, sometimes one's misfortunes is a team blessing.
    Nov 26, 2012 at 7:19 AM
    0
    Response: I don't know, the offense was going out and winning just fine before, but there's definitely more excitement.
  • Jim
    I totally agree with this article. Alex was set up for failure. Awful head coaches, different offense every year, and no weapons to throw to. Look what he did when he finally had a few receivers, and a consistent offensive scheme to run...great play, and, if not for 2 botched returns (not his fault) a trip to the Super Bowl. Kap had the luxury of being selected by the current head coach, sitting on the sideline to learn the system, and actually have a solid team to work with. I wouldn't doubt more than half of the teams out there would want Alex, which will force him to learn yet another offensive scheme, and be with less a less talented team
    Nov 26, 2012 at 7:06 AM
    0
    Response: Thanks. RE: Alex - I think he has a handle on several offensive schemes at this point, so wherever he goes he may have a chance to be ahead of the curve.
  • ALBERT PREZ
    ALEX SMITH, THANK U BUT ITS TIME TO MOVE ON ITS ALL ABOUT WINNING AND HOW THE GAME IS PLAYED U DID A GOOD JOB KEAP DOES IT BETTER AND AGAIN THANK U. GO NINERS
    Nov 26, 2012 at 6:56 AM
    0
    Response: Look at you keyboard, look on the left hand side for that CAPS LOCK key ... PRESS IT.
  • Tom
    Great job writing this article. I completely agree with your opinion on the QB situation. I been a niner fan for 25 years and seen some great QBs play for the niners. Alex may be a great guy and teammate but he is no great QB. Collin has that "it" factor that gives him a chance to be a great QB in this league.
    Nov 26, 2012 at 6:11 AM
    0
    Response: Thank you.
  • Scott
    All five ? Maybe you haven't checked out the polls , but it is about 50/50. You seem to have been hanging around politicians to much with your spins on the fan base. We'll see in St. Louis I guess how much you actually have figured out. I just want wins, but I wouldn't write Alex off just yet.
    Nov 26, 2012 at 5:43 AM
    0
    Response: you're right Scott, that was a cheap shot towards the side of the fan base that supports Smith, which in a way or another I am still part of. I wish we had a "strike" function so I could cross that out (hey what do you know? I figured it out). For the record, I am not writing Alex off in the sense that I don't think he can get it done.
  • Tony Arico
    I agree with you 100%. I have always admired and respected Alex for all of the striffe he has endured. However, as you wrote he has never played with the cockiness that you need to win in the NFL. I met Alex when he came out to the Jets game and he was so sincere to my 9 year old. I tip my cap to Alex, and wish him well, but at the same time I am excited for Colin.
    Nov 26, 2012 at 5:43 AM
    0
    Response: I'm pretty sure I would be even more impressed with Alex if I got to meet him
  • Original Jezar Fan
    Yesterday the torch was passed. CK will be the driving force behind a new 49er Dynasty. The kid is the best 49er QB to step on the field since Mr. Young. Sit back folks...it's going to be an A-ticket ride.
    Nov 26, 2012 at 5:06 AM
    0
    Response: High expectations
  • Cheyne
    The good thing about the 49ers is that our defense can make up for Kaepernick making a mistake. I like Alex Smith. Sure I've cursed him out more than once since he came into the league but the last year and a half he's played great. But kaep right now in his only two starts has been just as good with room to grow as with Alex he has pretty much hit his ceiling. Either way I'm confident in this team against anyone. People need to stop choosing sides and root for either one harbaugh puts back there. Here's to the chase of number 6!
    Nov 26, 2012 at 4:28 AM
    0
    Response: And in the middle of this controversy folks forget that: it is a luxury to play for a team with a defense that is this good. Doesn't mean Kap can get crazy with interceptions though, this defense doesn't hage a lot of depth and would suffer by spending more time on the field.
  • Alex
    Well said.
    Nov 26, 2012 at 4:15 AM
    0
    Response: Thanks
  • ladale
    This is the NFL where million dollar contracts are the norm for those who control the fate of a franchise. Alex vs Kaepernick, as you stated Kaepernick seemingly gives you everything Alex gave you only with a stronger arm, faster and more elusive, and more explosiveness. Here's the clincher, "for a team that closer to the cap ceiling than any other, Kaepernick is younger and a heck of a lot cheaper right now".
    Nov 26, 2012 at 4:09 AM
    0
  • Todd Ryder
    I think Alex Smith will make a better 49ers coach one day than he ever was a 49ers player. (a la Jim Harbaugh) He knows what to do. Just on the football field he is always cautious and a step late so it never shows up in the game. Its time for Kaepernick. This guy has arm strength confidence mobility and bravado to play the position that Alex Smith never has and in 8 years probably never will have.
    Nov 26, 2012 at 2:52 AM
    0
    Response: I agree Alex may be a better coach than he will ever be a player, but he'll still need to get a little tougher
  • Brian
    You just know he is going to go to Arizona next year...and get crushed behind their horrendous offensive line. I feel bad for Alex its like we found a hot new girlfriend fell in love and we are about to leave our wife...its not right but we cant help it.
    Nov 26, 2012 at 1:23 AM
    0
    Response: I don't know, I think Alex will be smarter than going somewhere like Arizona where the line sucks and you'd have to face this defense twice a year. On another topic, if you're a married guy, may I suggest couple's therapy, Brian?
  • Gary
    Great article, exactly how i feel about the situation. Feel sorry for Smith and always wanted him to succeed but he was playing at his ceiling when Kaepernick is already at the same level with potential for better. All the reporters who are trying to stoke controversy (mostly national reporters) haven't watched Smith's career as closely as us. Put simply, Kaepernick has made throws in the last 2 games that Smith has never/will never make.
    Nov 26, 2012 at 12:58 AM
    0
    Response: Thanks, and I agree.
  • rath44
    I am one of those fans who just wanted Alex to take off under Harbaugh's tutelage, because Harbaugh supported him. Last season, when we saw just how good Alex could be with a great coaching staff, I thought it could only get better, especially with a great running game and even greater defense. I also have an enormous amount of respect for Alex. I'm excited about Kaep's future. But I am nervous at seeing him play in the playoffs, because we may need to wait another year to win it all. Takes experience to play QB at that level, and kaep does not have it.
    Nov 26, 2012 at 12:52 AM
    0
    Response: I share your fear about Kap in a playoff game, but he did play well yesterday in a game with a playoff atmosphere
  • GORO
    Not only is Kaepernick making plays Alex would not, he is converting third downs. Third downs is where Alex has not been very good throughout his 8 years.
    Nov 26, 2012 at 12:24 AM
    0
    Response: Good observation

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