There are several layers to this subject and I'm seeking to peel those back in order to offer a truly objective opinion. Let's start where it all began, with Alex Smith...

Firstly, more than anything, I just feel really awful for the guy. Sure, he's making millions but he seriously can not catch a break no matter what he does. He was rifled through a new offensive coordinator every year of his 6 year career, undermined in the locker room by Mike Nolan who questioned his manhood, got berated and benched by Singletary, was booed out of Candlestick Park with fans clamoring for David Carr (hold back the vomit if you can). He could have left SF in 2009 and 2011 but he stayed and cited "unfinished business" as the reason for his return. Then Harbaugh enters--a bona fide offensive mind that gives Smith arguably the first vote of confidence in his career (or at least the first since Norv Turner in '06). Without even being a signed QB on the roster, Smith runs his own training camp and teaches the rest of the team Harbaugh's playbook during the lockout. Then, the 2011 season rolls around and Smith continues to make strides, getting better and better each week, culminating with a playoff victory over the Saints that will go down in the history books.

The 2012 offseason commences and the Niners want to pursue Peyton Manning. Can't fault them there. When you have a chance to nab arguably the greatest QB to ever play the game (regular season that is, of course) you take your best shot. So although it may have been a bit of a kick in the face to Smith, it's more than understandable. But before I make this more of a novel and get way off topic, we'll fast forward to now.

Smith is currently having the best season of his career and is the 4th highest rated QB in the league. He continues to be efficient, smart, and minimizes turnovers. Then the concussion hits, Kaep gets his chance and shines. Smith has done absolutely nothing to lose his job and his reward for having the best season of his career is a possible benching. Just brutal. I don't care how much money you make, that's got to sting something fierce.

On to Kaepernick's background story. I was thrilled when the Niners moved up to draft him in the second round in 2011. Now remember, this was before Smith's 2011 season and I was beyond fed up with a poor QB that seemed to stick with the Niners like a bad case of (fill in the blank). I realized that with Harbaugh being locked out from the team, his hand was unfortunately forced to go with Smith. So he made the best of it and turned an awful QB into a pretty darn good one. But in my mind, that wasn't likely to happen. What was likely to happen was that Harbaugh would see like all the others that Smith was hopeless and Kaep would take over halfway through 2011. The transformation of Smith is a true testament to how insanely good Harbs is at developing QBs and I even recall saying "If he can turn Smith into a decent QB, he'll be the best coach this team has seen since Bill Walsh." He is.

Well here we are, fresh off of two extremely impressive victories in which Kaepernick was under center. It appears that everyone is on the Kaepernick bandwagon with the "sky is the limit" mentality.

So Steve, now that you've incessantly rambled about things everyone already knows, can you get back to the subject at hand and just state who the hell you think will start, who you want to start, and why?

Sure thing.

The God's honest truth is that I really don't know. I lean towards Kaepernick but it's one of those situations where you're waiting for the catch. Like that really good deal you see before you read the fine print and realize you're being ripped off.

The offense is absolutely more dynamic with Kaepernick. No longer do I sit there and watch the offense give everything it has just to eek out a first down (using all 3 downs to do it, mind you). We're seeing an offense that is effectively utilizing Manningham, Delanie Walker, and all those other weapons the Niners have and making first downs ON first down and scoring TDs on, dare I say, 1st and goal?! The kid has great poise, goes through his reads, has a CANNON of an arm, and speed that bests or rivals just about any QB in the league not named RGIII. He takes the chances that Smith won't take. He makes the downfield throws when the blitz is on. He's looked even better than I hoped for when SF moved up to take him in that 2011 draft. This is what Harbaugh and Baalke saw and that's why they moved up to get him. This is THEIR guy. Not a guy that they were forced to start due to a lockout, who performed above and beyond what they expected.

But let's temper his performance with a few key notes. Firstly, the offensive line is playing better than any squad in the NFL right now. So as good as he's looked, that's certainly a HUGE contributing factor to his success. Secondly, the defense has played 2 of their best games of the season and one could argue that the D is far more responsible for the past 2 wins than Kaep is (and they'd probably be right). On top of that, the Bears were likely caught off guard by Kaep throwing it all over the field and lacked the preparation to guard against it, while the Saints defense ranks dead last in the league. Finally, when you look at the stat sheet does it look that much different than Smith? Now I know that stats don't tell the whole story, because on the field they look extremely different. But it's just food for thought.

To close this manifesto, we'll try to tie things together. Kaep makes the offense tick the way this offense should tick. Smith, albeit in unspectacular fashion, commands the offense with great efficiency and limits mistakes as good as anyone in the league, which is exactly the type of football that is conducive to success when you have a defense like the Niners. So with pros and cons to both QB's, you look at the big picture. The playoffs, the quest to hoist the sacred Lombardi trophy.

That's where part of me leans toward Smith. Sure, he didn't have any prior playoff experience before last year's run, but he was an 8-year, hardened, grizzled vet. Kaep is essentially a second year rookie with 2 starts under his belt. I'm waiting for the game where the other foot drops, where he comes back down to Earth and makes the mistakes that you expect from a QB who has only started 2 games. And I DON'T want that game to be in the playoffs. This is the Niners prime chance. The one they squandered away on two muffed punts against the Giants last year. And while Kaep may provide them with the juice to get over that hurdle and get to the Super Bowl, he conversely could be the one that ultimately holds them back if he shows his inexperience on the big stage and tosses a multi-INT game when the 49ers can ill afford it. So the scales could tip either way. He could be the catalyst or the goat.

A tough dilemma indeed for Harbs and Roman. Long term, I think you definitely make Kaep your franchise QB and have him start next season unless Smith leads the 49ers to the promise land this year. But in the short term, it's really, really difficult to say who is the one to lead them into the 2012 postseason. Great arguments for both.

So there you have it. Fifty-five paragraphs that ultimately say nothing and everything, all at the same time. Which is indicative of the situation at hand. This is a huge turning point for Harbaugh and his staff. The right decision remains to be seen and they'll be either lauded or scrutinized for who they move forward with.

Hindsight is always 20/20 and right now, foresight is cloudy at best.