Just Say It, Coach: It’s Kaepernick

Nov 27, 2012 at 5:08 PM


Sometimes, despite his roiling intensity, Jim Harbaugh just makes you smile.

Take last week, for example. After Colin Kaepernick's breathtaking debut, Harbaugh virtually admitted the obvious: Kaepernick would start again. As the week went on, though, he refused to make it official. In his uniquely tightfisted way, he asserted that tipping his hand would cost him a "competitive advantage" against the Saints. And why on earth would he go and do that?

I'm all for competitive advantages, but there were three things wrong with Harbaugh's theory. First, the Saints know that Harbaugh is smart; so they had to know he was way too smart to give up Kaepernick's efficient explosiveness. Second, and accordingly, all that Harbaugh was supposedly concealing was the possibility that he'd surprise the Saints by hitting them with Alex Smith; and since that "surprise" would merely delight the Saints—now that would cost him a "competitive advantage"—Harbaugh's implied threat was no threat at all.

The third thing wrong we'll discuss a bit later.

In any event, by and large, Harbaugh's gamesmanship was met with typical bemusement. Oh, sure, there were those who warned that Harbaugh was taking a mammoth risk, but they were missing the larger truth. Harbaugh had given Smith a golden chance to upgrade this O to a championship level. Smith hadn't done it, and Monday proved that Kaepernick might. In effect, Harbaugh was risking a brief playoff run so that he could take a genuine shot at the Super Bowl. If my coach won't take a risk like that, then I want a new coach, immediately.

So it was hardly earthshaking when Kaepernick took the field against the Saints. But there was still the matter of how he would play. After drawing perhaps the toughest ever first-start, he now was facing perhaps an even tougher second. Though the Saints' D was no match for the Bears', the noisy Superdome was one of the league's most intimidating venues. Add the prospect of trading points with Drew Brees, and this game could threaten to be even scarier.

But the core of Kaepernick's thrilling emergence—the essence of his injection of life—it all boils down to simply this: He. Doesn't. Show. Fear.

Unrattled by the noise, Kaepernick once again did what he does. He evaded the rush, focused downfield, and fired deep. Critics were quick to point out that his stat-line looked like it could've been Smith's: 231 yards with two scores (one on the ground) and a pick, with Randy Moss averting another. But leaving aside that the refs called back about a hundred yards, those aren't the stats that tell the story.

The crucial point is that Kaepernick makes throws that Smith would never dare attempt. For those keeping score, Kaepernick has now gone deep with 24.3% of his throws, fourth-best in the league. (Smith, of course, remains dead-last.) And predictably, Kaepernick's aggressiveness, coupled with his arm and his accuracy, has produced gobs of explosive plays: he's already made 12 of 20-yards-plus. (Smith has made only 22, in nearly three times as many attempts.) And amazingly, this explosiveness has carried no price of efficiency: Kaepernick's rating is 102.

Also worth mentioning, though, is what Kaepernick isn't. Perhaps our greatest draft-day fear was that Kaepernick would be just another gimmicky-offense athletic freak—a guy who'd make one read and run. Throughout Act One of his Niners career, Steve Young drove his receivers nuts by taking off at the first sign of trouble. But like Young's Act Two, Kaepernick is the opposite: even when you're screaming run!, he's waiting for a guy to break free. As soon as one does, the ball is there. And if no one does, then he runs, and breaks the D into tiny pieces.

In New Orleans, of course, our D was just as much the story (making up for the nightmare that our special teams continue to be). With Aldon Smith increasingly back on the line, our pass-rush again was relentless, while those two pick-sixes (on consecutive passes!) were obvious game-changers. But though I can't prove this, I doubt it's a coincidence that our D, like our O, has looked more aggressive these last two weeks. Aggressiveness has a way of spreading, and it all began with Kaepernick.

This QB "controversy" is so one-sided that it isn't really a controversy at all. The question, then, is why Harbaugh won't just end it.

With this changing of the guard looking ever more permanent, there's been a surge of sympathy for Smith. Undoubtedly, there's a cruelty here. Smith has fought through a ton of adversity, and to finally lose his job only now—so soon after it seemed that he'd left the darkness behind for good—would certainly be a shot to the gut. (The sight of Smith on the sideline on Sunday, all dressed up with no place to go, only added to the indignity.) And it's perhaps for this reason—and not for some "competitive advantage"—that Harbaugh seems willing to string him along.

"Alex Smith is our starting quarterback," Harbaugh said on Monday. "He has not done anything to lose that job." Obviously, if this were true, Smith, as our starter, would naturally start. So given all this cloak and dagger, we know Smith isn't our starting QB. Either Kaepernick is, or we don't really have a starter at all. And since the latter seems patently out of the question, Kaepernick must be our starting QB.

This, of course, is how it should be. Yet Harbaugh simply refuses to say. And by that refusal, he fuels this phony "controversy" (while chiding the press for treating it like one), and he weighs down Kaepernick's momentum—and for what? So he can spare Smith's feelings?

Enough!

For years now, Smith has held this franchise hostage. The debate has been exhausting; it started on draft-day 2005, and it simply hasn't ever stopped. Even Harbaugh has seemed confused; he's showered Smith with love and support, but he's never stopped looking for someone better. Now, though, he's found him at last. It's Kaepernick, his protégé, the league's most spectacular young QB.

Already, Harbaugh has given so much. And hopefully there's much more on the way. But now, this week, I want one thing. The thing I've sensed, more than anything else, these last two weeks. The thing I think this team needs most.

Freedom.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


48 Comments

  • EVBeezee
    Jeremy, is that all you have to add? Let's not put the first debate to the side. No, no, let's bring it to the forefront shall we? RGIII - Better than Kaepernick (This isn't even worth debating), Andrew Luck (Much better #s as a true rookie with virtually no weapons) - Better than Kaep, Cam Newton (Just check the stats and he also has no one around him) - Better, Russell Wilson (This is the only one you can debate and the nod has to go to RW for now simply because of sample size) - Better for now. Now, about the "host" of other young QBs, pardon my overzealous use of the word. I stand corrected. But, you can definitely add The Red Rifle (Dalton) to that list. My issue is you, like Kaplan and the rest of the CK apologists, need to take your rose colored glasses off and realize that he is not going to do what he did against Chicago each week. There is absolutely no denying that. So, how about we argue my main point next time instead of taking the easy route.
    Dec 10, 2012 at 9:19 AM
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  • onemoretime
    The past becomes relevant when it continues to persevere into the present. Cosell was asked to compare CK with A.S. Had you heard the rest of the interview you would be livid. Cosells analysis included the number of passes attempted. A.S. made the fewest number of pass attempts by starting Q.Bs. A.S. has had some great moments at Q.B. but he reverts back to past behavior, often taking sacks when receivers are open. The first play of the second half of the NFC championship game means that the coaches had found a weakness in the defense after reviewing first half play. They had designed a play to exploit it. A.S. reverted back to past behavior and was sacked. If he is stuck in the past then we are stuck talking about it. Your take on the game is yours to keep. The management doesn't agree with you. They went shopping for another Q.B. Why? If A.S. was all that you think he is the niners would have made him an offer worthy of your evaluations. A.S. is like jeckyll and hyde. He is unable to make the change. The team is a bona fide contender with lots of talent and should not have to put up with that. A.R. with Gore in the backfield, can you imagine that?
    Dec 6, 2012 at 3:35 PM
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  • Kbrown18
    Yeah I figured that you were talking about smith's career being sacked. Hey man, I'm not stuck in the past. I know Alex's career started out bad, going through all those coordinators. Last year he turned it around. He helped the niners get to 13-3 with only 5 int last season. He won a crucial playoff game by leading the niners' "ok" offense on two scoring drives in the final 4 minutes against the saints. He scored two touchdowns when they absolutely needed them. He had the NFC championship in the bag, and they slipped on special teams. So he proved he can do it. I don't know why you care about how many times he was sacked 5 years ago. He has been sacked 24 times this season, Aaron Rodgers leads the nfl by being sacked 39 times. So what does that tell you?
    Dec 5, 2012 at 5:08 AM
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  • onemoretime
    Hey K Brown you are probably right. It depends on what time period you are talking about. I believe Cosell was talking about the beginning of A.S.'s career in the NFL to now. I believe he's comparing him to other QB's who have been in the league for that period. they say love is blind but I haven't heard the same about hate. what's your take on that. To Chris P I had some comments about your observations, some of which are thought provoking. Unfortunately I have had a computer glitch and will respond later. there were some darn good comments. Darn I hate computer glitches. Please be patient. The comments are forthcoming. Damn I hate computer glitches.
    Dec 4, 2012 at 3:53 PM
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  • Jeremy
    EVBeezee, putting aside for now the debate about whether the four QBs you mention are better than Kaepernick, can you please enlighten us as to who are the "host of other currently more spectacular young QBs"? (Keeping in mind that "a host of" means "a multitude" or "a great number.") Thanks.
    Dec 3, 2012 at 1:06 PM
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  • EVBeezee
    "Now, though, he's found him at last. It's Kaepernick, his protege, the league's most spectacular young QB." Not to play Monday Morning QB, but I'm going to play Monday Morning QB. This is what I was talking about Jeff. I'm not going to jump in and say, "I told you so, Kaep is not ready." That would be way too predictable. All I am going to say is that you and everybody else who went Lady Ga Ga over the the first two outings need to fall back a bit and understand that is not how its going to go every week. Unfortunately for us, what I figured would take 6 weeks happened sooner than I thought. The Rams have produced the blueprint. Now we get to see who CK7 really is. No more surprises. Nope, now it comes down to whether he can adjust and not only win games, but equally...Not lose them. We shall see. As of now, he has my complete support. BTW, you forgot about RGIII, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton and a host of other currently more spectacular young QBs.
    Dec 3, 2012 at 10:07 AM
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  • Kbrown18
    Hey, "onemoretime" and everyone who believes those false facts. Alex smith isn't the most sacked, or the second most sacked. He is 17th most sacked. Big difference. Get your facts right, hater!!
    Dec 3, 2012 at 5:20 AM
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  • Chris P.
    Onemoretime, let me explain to you what a hater is, specifically an Alex Smith hater. They are people and fans who don't like to see people succeed. Say whatever you want to about Alex Smith, but he's done nothing but protect the football and win games. 20-6-1 under Harbaugh. Facts, who needs 'em. 49er fans are so stuck on this dude's first few seasons that they can't even give a guy credit for his last two. Nobody. The Niners can and have beaten elite teams under Smith and he's won pressure games but nobody wants to give him credit for that. So, that's all I'm saying. I am not against the Kaeper and I don't entirely disagree with some of the facts you stated. But, you can go both ways. Where Smith takes a sack and lives to fight another day, Kap might force a throw and throw a pick. But where Alex won't force a ball and takes a sack, he gives up a potential big play. I love Kap and I love his pocket presence and like I said earlier his upside is obvious. But Alex is not a scrub like Niner nation seems to think.
    Dec 1, 2012 at 6:53 PM
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  • onemoretime
    facts, who needs facts. Greg Cosell of NFL films this morning on the 49er flagship station. Allow me to paraphrase: "The first play of the second half of the NFC Championship game last year. Delanie Walker was wide open, A.S. had an opportunity to hit him. He did not pull the trigger, and instead was sacked." Guess Cosell has it in for A.S., another Alex Hater? Is that the one play people keep saying we were away from the S.B.? But they also think he should be in there again after what the Giants have done to him. they own him. Is J.H. now an Alex hater? J.H. wants to win. facts, who needs em. they just get in the way. Gladly the end is near. By the way, A.S. is the most or second most sacked Q.B. in the NFL. facts, who needs them. A.S. may be quite talented but not as a Q.B. He surely has hidden talents, just have to keep looking. the fans who want him to be Q.B. are more than likely holding him back.
    Dec 1, 2012 at 12:15 AM
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  • Chris P.
    Kaplan, lol, how pumped are you right now?! Listen, we all knew this day was coming. The Kaeper wasn't going to sit behind Alex Smith forever. Harbaugh foreshadowed this earlier in the year by giving us brief cameos of him. I am a fan of Alex Smith and unlike most of the haters on here, I feel bad for this guy. I also believe, like Steve Young believes, that Alex can lead us to the Lombardi. But, it is hard to ignore the upside of Kaepernick. Incredible upside. My only issue with this whole situation is Harbaugh is playing with fire. This is a championship caliber team, hell, you could put Kaplan at QB and this would be a championship caliber team, so why would you mess with something that could potentially disrupt that. Smith has backers in that locker room, and so does Kaeper so I don't want to see that potentially divide the locker room. I say potentially though because Harbaugh is not a dumb man and he knows what he's doing. I just hope this doesn't backfire.
    Nov 30, 2012 at 6:49 PM
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  • Kbrown18
    Are you people dumb? Alex Smith almost certainly would've come short of the Super Bowl? Where do you get that from? He has won won and won. They won't throw the ball any more than they did with smith. It's a run first team. And Colin has played good, but he hasn't shown he is great. Everyone thinks he is a qb god because he won 2 games. Why couldn't he beat the rams? Alex was 7 for 8 with a td before he left the game. Alex might not throw it deep, but he completes passes, protects the ball, scores touchdowns, and wins games. What, because he doesn't risk the possession and launch it downfield, he isn't good enough?
    Nov 30, 2012 at 7:41 AM
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    Response: That's apparently Harbaugh's opinion. Then again, maybe he's just dumb.
  • Planters Peanuts Guy
    ...You happy now, Jeff? If I ever hear you say, "Hmm... maybe Kaepernick wasn't ready after all...," at any point in the season, I'm going to donkey punch you in the peanuts.
    Nov 30, 2012 at 5:08 AM
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    Response: It's a deal, Guy. But the point is, since Smith almost certainly would've fallen short of the Super Bowl, Kaepernick is worth a try, no matter how it turns out. That said, I fully expect us to win it all.
  • onemoretime
    I cant wait until april. I am counting the days, hours, minutes, seconds. Then he will be gone. How he managed to fool the people for so long should be the subject of an investigation by some group with strong stomachs. Beware to those franchises who let him in the door, look what he did here, with such marginal football skills. I want my compensation for having to endure such bizarre nonsense. Mike Nolan, send me a large monetary check. Now I know why the greenbay coach left town when he was with us. Why did the football gods visit this sordid tale on us.
    Nov 29, 2012 at 7:59 PM
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  • mandi elias-aguilar
    i think kaepernick is the best one to go with!!! he is awesome and isn't scared and look at what he's proving right now!!! that we can win and play without always running!!!
    Nov 29, 2012 at 11:17 AM
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  • Ceadderman
    I don't see the problem here Terry. I've only got a limited amount of room to state my case. The reason I think it's a bad idea is cause he's playing around in what could possibly be a Championship Season. As you said "with a 2nd year QB". I like Kappy. I think you're mistaking my apprehension for blind loyalty. Smith has shown that he can do the job, Smith took us to the Championship Game (It wasn't just Harbaugh you know) and the team was a Kick Returner away from the Super Bowl. He had a better game than Manning did. Ball doesn't hit the turf (Never mind Illegally Touched) then it's Alex Smith holding the Lombardi not Eli Manning. But that doesn't matter to all the people saying that Kappy is better. The numbers don't bear that out. I don't care what anyone says. I like Kappy but NEXT season is the time to be messing around if you feel the kid can push his way into the job. This season we were promised that we're making the push. Well all I know is that we better get there or you will see the biggest mutiny on the team since Erickson. I don't have to be a Professional to see that. I know how venomous San Francisco fans can be.
    Nov 29, 2012 at 10:34 AM
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  • Terry B.
    Ceadderman, where to begin? Have you considered the possibility that, when everyone except for you realizes that Kaepernick should be starting, perhaps it is YOU who has the bias? After everything that Harbaugh has done to turn this team from laughingstock to Super Bowl contender, you honestly believe that YOU know better who should be starting at QB? Kaepernick is definitely backup material at this time? Really? How many starting QBs outplayed him the past few weeks? They tried to replace Smith before? And which, pray tell, of these other QBs was a second round draft pick and the head coach's handpicked guy to be the QB of the future? Why wasn't he the starter at the beginning of the season? Two possibilities: (1) he wasn't ready then, but he is now (remember, this is only his second season); and/or (2) he's one of those players who you can't fully appreciate until you see him play in actual games. Regardless of the reason, Harbaugh thinks Kaepernick is the better choice, and Harbaugh has more than earned the benefit of the doubt from us. And who said Smith can't lead the team? That's not the point. The point is that Kaepernick has shown enough to indicate that he can lead the team better than Smith and can do things in the offense that Smith simply can't do. That's all.
    Nov 29, 2012 at 7:01 AM
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  • Scott
    I'm not sure what makes the media or anyone think he needs to just say it. He considers it a competitive edge, so that is his call. His job is to win ball games, not keep the public informed of his starters.
    Nov 29, 2012 at 6:27 AM
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    Response: Agreed. But history shows that QB "controversies" are locker-room distractions. Harbaugh himself has already complained that he and the players are being asked every week who the QB is. Well, there's one sure way to solve that problem. Say that it's Kaepernick, permanently. Make a clean break, so that we can put this issue behind us for good and get on with the business of winning the Super Bowl.
  • Show
    At CP643e, whatever phony name that is, I've been watching the Niners since the George Seifert days. Like I said, statistically a bad idea. I stick with it. Die hard Niner fan, hope I'm wrong, but you are proposing Harbaugh put his rep on the line and gamble an inexperienced sophomore QB to accomplish something only Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger have in less time??? I don't think so. Alex came a phony forward progress call and Kyle Williams fumble from the superbowl last year, and he won his first 2 games with great numbers also this season. Hope I'm wrong.
    Nov 29, 2012 at 1:42 AM
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  • Ceadderman
    Harbaugh made a mistake choosing to go with Kappy over Smith. I hope they prove me wrong though. I love how most everyone liking this choice is all militant about it though. If Kappy was better than Smith, why didn't Harbaugh just go with the Kid at the Start of the Season instead of waiting for an Injury to happen to give Kappy his first Start? Maybe because of Smith's experience and his 13-3 season record after watching him run the team in minicamp at his personal expense? I like the kid but your need to have Smith replaced shows that your hatred for the man knows no bounds. You will constantly subject him to your personal bias. Even after he was the captain of the ship that was righted into the Playoffs. He can't lead this team? What were you watching last year? Kappy can't even score more points than Smith. He's averaging less points than Smith was. I like him and will cheer Kappy on but 2 games isn't a large enough sample to say that he's Starter material. He's DEFINITELY Backup material at this time. Can't wait to hear all the excuses when he finally has that letdown that all QBs have. They tried to replace Smith before. Only Hill is still in the NFL. The rest?
    Nov 28, 2012 at 9:46 PM
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  • STL Niner Fan
    Sorry...but to say Kaep is the most spectacular young QB in the league right now is blind homerism. Whether you have demonstrated this trait in the past or not is irrelevant. You are a 49er fan and you are making a knee jerk reaction to a small sample size of work, while blindly ignoring a much more comprehensive body of work from other young NFL QBs who have performed at a high level. All the while using a statistical metric you've stated previously to be overly misleading to provide evidence to your assertion. Call it what you will, but I call it blind homerism. However, I desperately hope time will prove you correct......
    Nov 28, 2012 at 10:42 AM
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    Response: I've never said that QB ratings are misleading. On the contrary, you'll note that I rely on Kaepernick's in this very piece. It's a perfectly fine measure of efficiency, and I don't deny that you've got to be efficient to be elite. But you've also got to be explosive. Smith is efficient but not explosive. So far, Luck has been explosive but not efficient. (Luck ranks #1 in deep-throw percentage; Griffin, by the way, ranks #32, only slightly ahead of Smith.) Kaepernick has been both. I get it: Kaepernick hasn't played much. But I think we can agree that if he maintains this level of performance, he'll be the best young QB in the league. So all I'm doing is assuming that he'll maintain it. In light of the conditions in which he's performed so far, I think that's a safe assumption. Thus, I'm willing to say right now that he's the best young QB in the league. Homerism, maybe, but hardly blind.
  • bellevuemike
    Harbaugh knew Smith didn't have the chops to win a Super Bowl and he knew it going into this year. After 7 years, Smith had reached his limit. He wasn't going to advance the offense to a "championship level". The only reason he's starting Kaepernick is due to Smith's injury, otherwise he wouldn't have taken the risk. And at some point, someone, somewhere, needs to call this fact out. Harbaugh lucked into an opportunity to be forced to do what he should have willingly done at the beginning of the year. Here's the only difference in how the above line: "In effect, Harbaugh was risking a brief playoff run so that he could take a genuine shot at the Super Bowl. If my coach won't take a risk like that, then I want a new coach, immediately.".......would be rewritten if Harbaugh had done the right thing at the beginning of the year: "In effect, by starting Kaepernick at the beginning of the year, Harbaugh was risking a brief playoff run to determine if his young backup QB gave him a genuine shot at the Super Bowl. If my coach won't take a risk like that, then I want a new coach, immediately."
    Nov 28, 2012 at 9:52 AM
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  • Jerry z
    You threw a lot of stuff against the wall but most of it doesn't stick. More and more I realize that you have a preference looking desperately for evidence. They have different skill sets. One is more exciting but clearly is the higher risk. Alex gives us the best chance for getting to the big game.
    Nov 28, 2012 at 9:42 AM
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    Response: But it takes high risk to get high reward. In the playoffs, playing it safe (i.e., sticking with Smith) will almost certainly get you beat. That's why Kaepernick, despite his "higher risk," actually gives us a much better chance.
  • Gary
    The truth is 49er fans have seen a spark from Kaepernick that we never saw from Smith. It's only fans and media around the country who haven't paid much attention to the 49ers in the last 7/8 years who think Smith is hard done by.
    Nov 28, 2012 at 8:32 AM
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  • STL Niner Fan
    Regarding your response to RGIII - you cant diss the AS QB rating because he throws lots of high percentage throws and then conversely use QB rating as evidence that Luck is worse than Kaep. I'm totally in support of Kaep taking over as starter but he has only started two games and to suggest he is the most spectacular young QB in the NFL reeks of blind homerism and serves only to discredit you. Frankly Luck has looked really good this year with a subpar team surrounding him. Bottom line - this is a results-oriented business and Kaep....so far....appears to have a much higher upside. His pocket presence, accuracy, and arm strength have shown to be a drastic improvement over Smith. Hopefully he turns out to be the real deal......hopefully.
    Nov 28, 2012 at 8:27 AM
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    Response: Me, accused of "blind homerism." Now I've truly seen it all.
  • RGIII
    Kaepernick better than Luck! Based on what? That's probably the most ridiculous comment I've seen on this website and that's saying something.
    Nov 28, 2012 at 6:42 AM
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    Response: Have you seen Luck's QB rating?
  • Andrew
    Before Monday's game vs Bears I was the biggest Alex Smith supporter ever since he was drafted. I was criticized every year by other niner fans for my support of Smith, he has always been loyal to this team, just a naturally good guy, I wanted to see him win a Super Bowl and still do, then Monday night happened. We as niner fans as well as the nation all saw Kaepernick's coming out party. It's not the stats that blow you away, its how he takes a sack and turns it into a 20 yard pass or a 10 yard run, things Smith simply cannot do. The biggest thing to me though is the coaches' quiet indictment of Smith for the last year and a half, I'll tell you what I mean. The "money" down, third down, if Smith is facing a 3rd and 7 or longer, about 75% of the time or more, the 49ers run the ball, with Kaepernick facing 3rd and 10 or longer, about 80% of the time or more, the coaches have put the ball in his hands to make a play. I know it's a small sample size, only two and a half games, but it tells me that the coaches have more faith in Kaepernick than Smith when it matters most. And by the way, Kaepernick has been much better than Smith at converting 3rd downs. Their ability to convert on third down with Kaepernick is why the 49ers have been more explosive, because they're able to do more things when the coach clearly has more faith in Kaepernick. I would be absolutely shocked if coach Harbaugh decides to switch back to Alex Smith, only because with Smith as our starter QB is easily our weakest position on the team and when you have the chance to make a clear improvement you make the change and put aside people's feelings, that's good business sense.
    Nov 28, 2012 at 4:59 AM
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  • Terry B.
    Alex is still the starter only if "starter" means "the guy who watches from the bench while the better player plays." Harbaugh needs to just say what everyone already knows. I can't imagine the players will have much respect for him if he's calling one guy the starter and not playing him.
    Nov 28, 2012 at 4:26 AM
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  • onemoretime
    A.S is a great competitor, everybody loves that about him. However after 7 yrs he cannot consistently lead a receiver away from a defender on short dumpoff passes. Im not a hater but he brings me tantalizingly close. A.S has done this by holding a lot of good players who are good people back. Remember Shaun Hills record when A.S. replaced him. Shaun was playing with all the same cast that Alex had, the same coaches and coordinators, they were on the same playing field and Shaun produced wins not excuses. One bad game and Shaun was gone. And somehow Alex and thinking he has the capability to win against better teams has endured. History is against him and all of the new excuses. To some of us he is like the bogeyman our parents threatened us with. Kap is probably the jewel we have been after and some people want to keep kap out of the picture till next year. What nonsense. I sense an influence from hades or the N.Y Giants. I am sure A.S. has some outstanding talents. Theyre just not on the football field. I agree completely he has held this franchise hostage. Could he be the bogeyman? Please enough. I agree.
    Nov 27, 2012 at 11:28 PM
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  • CP643e
    Show...You must not be watching the same 49er games that I've been watching. Do you really not see the differences between Smith the 8 year guy and Kaepernick the 2nd year guy. Smith, poor field vision, slow decision making, too many sacks, poor downfield passing ability, always goes to the checkdown guy, calls too many timeouts, doesn't run when he should and again takes the sack. Kaepernick, Great field vision, reads the defenses well, strong arm, can get the ball into tight places, great pocket presence, good running ability, etc. all for a 2nd year guy with 2 starts. Smith has been here for 8 years now. He's as good as he's going to get which is not good enough. Bottom line, Kaepernick is a better QB in his 2nd year than Smith is in his 8th. If you ever watched Montana or Young play you would know what I mean or maybe you do but you just like Smith. Smith is a nice guy but as I've said for the last 5 years, he will never be the QB that takes the 49ers to the Super bowl. Kaepernick is the QB of the future for the 49ers plain and simple.
    Nov 27, 2012 at 10:48 PM
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  • Rik
    Harbaugh will go with Kaepernick over Smith because it makes sense to drive your sports car to the big dance and leave the plain reliable no-frills stationwagon at home.
    Nov 27, 2012 at 10:04 PM
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  • Shane
    Kaep: QB rating 104.1, 66%, 9.1 yards per A, 3TDs and a pick... and 5.4 yards per carry and 2TDs, one sack. in 2.5 games. 2-0 as a starter both impressive. with 24% of his throws going downfield.... Go back to smith? seriously? here is the bottom line, look at Harbaughs history as a coach. he has made every QB that has EVER played for him a star, a stud. TWO at SDS!! Smith didnt magically get good, Harbaugh maxed out his potential, come on guys! Harbaugh handpicked Kaep, traded up. look at the early results. Kaep is doing everything smith was doing but better, in 2 games of experience. ppl say Smith is the safer pick like he has never thrown an INT, or a multi-INT game (see G-men). Smith supporters talk of smith like he NEVER loses but its not flashy so its not enough. Its getting to be nonsense. he throws picks, takes sacks, n loses games just like every other QB (techincally except Kaep who is 2-0). its not hate, its reality. Go with great play and potential.
    Nov 27, 2012 at 10:01 PM
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  • m_brockalexander
    Great article! Couldn't have said it any better. Let's hope all this useless cloak and dagger act to preserve Smith's psyche is finally over tomorrow.
    Nov 27, 2012 at 9:55 PM
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  • Lui
    Harbaugh realizes that he has the unique opportunity to go into the playoffs with two elite qbs. He knows what he has in Alex, solid, clutch and he liked what he saw out of kaep when Alex went down. The only way he could have two elite qbs is to give kaep the only thing he doesn't have, experience. I don't think this all is about Alex vs kaep or who is better necessarily, I think harbaugh wants them both to be playing top notch because having two elite qbs vs one makes the niners a much surer bet to go all the way. The more he plays kaep and learns to trust him the better the niners' chance of winning it all even if our starting qb (whoever that is) goes down. Harbaugh is a genius a la Walsh for sure. It's not about Alex or kaep, it's about the forty niners as it should be.
    Nov 27, 2012 at 9:15 PM
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  • Ryan
    Alex got his chances, ride with the hot hand. It's been the first time in YEARS I've watched a Niners game and felt a big play could break out at any moment. The two TORCHES to Delanie Walker were things of beauty and Kaepernick deserves to start and start WELL. I only hope he's clutch in the Playoffs. I am an Alex fan, but I'm a bigger Niners fan. Kaep has a much higher ceiling and should ball out for the rest of the season. The truth is staring ALL of us DEAD in the face.
    Nov 27, 2012 at 9:06 PM
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  • Show
    Dan said it perfectly. Well done Sir. I root for the team not the player. This writer is clearly an Alex hater so he's not seeing the Kaep who is being saved by brooks' pick 6 and Moss' uncalled offensive PI that was possibly a pick 6 to possibly tie the game with 6 minutes left. Alex's numbers keep rising, leads the league in comp. %, and is a proven experienced QB who's been WINNING. And the best method is to drop that top 5 rated QB for a very talented yet immature sophomore QB? Statistically a very bad idea.
    Nov 27, 2012 at 7:55 PM
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  • Adrian
    NFL teams will get more and more tape on Colin. They will find his tendencies and force him into turning the ball over. It may take a few weeks to occur but do you want those mistakes happening in the playoffs? Explosiveness is nice. But I'll take a win and a turnover-free football game.
    Nov 27, 2012 at 7:53 PM
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  • Shane
    Dan, Ill give you my opinion of what all the fuss is about. 57 yard bomb to kyle williams, the Dime to Walker, the 3rd down pass to crabtree into cover 3, the option read TDs, the rope into the seam for another first down to Walker, the 94 yard scoring drive. Ok, Im hearing about the pick but not a lot about the terrible snap that led to it. When you have a guy thats willing to throw downfield, INTs are going to happen (e.g. Drew Brees). Im not going to eat the guys lunch (any given sunday) for tryin to make a play on a bad snap. The guy just plays with an edge that makes you feel like at any moment you cld have a big play (all while still playing with efficiency). Smith plays in a way that just makes you say, God i hope we pick up a first down. The best argument for Kaep, you made. He did play on the same level as smith, in his 2nd start. In the superdome. If Kaep is going to play with the same efficiency why forfeit the potential?
    Nov 27, 2012 at 7:46 PM
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  • vinferno
    Alex has had a lot more film on him and still was blowing teams out of the water this year. Harbaugh has the whole team playing better than they are supposed to. most close games have been to division rivals (like they are supposed to). The real test for CK will be division games. his numbers. This year i would like to have consistent play at QB rather than rely on big plays to get the same effect (how you get to 30 points isnt as important as getting to 30 points). CK is the future! ALEX gives us the best (safest) shot right now.
    Nov 27, 2012 at 7:44 PM
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  • Shane
    great article Jeff, the time is now!!! We have an incredibly solid core of young players and now a QB that can actually be a STAR for the next 12 years plus as opposed to a guy who is "efficient" enough to win some games. Its the simple eyeball test. I dont care what the stats said, you said it best, the throws he made that counted Smith never makes. Two quick points you didnt get to (there is just so much to say). Sacks, how many times has Kaep been sacked? Smith was leading the league I believe. Those "smart" plays when he was taking sacks were killing drives, cuz he has no balls. They are both athletic, just one guy will throw downfield and one wont. Also, drops. how many balls that wouldve been 20 yard plays were dropped? VD had a ball bounce off his chest with nothing but open field ahead. Crabtree dropped a 3rd down pass that Kaep made happen and needled through 3 guys. But dont worry, these guys will get used to balls being thrown with velocity. Kaep vs Rams, 31-10.
    Nov 27, 2012 at 7:31 PM
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  • Lucky Phil
    "Webzone Head Quarters"......? Sounds a lot like NASA down there. You know what happened to them. Get yourself back on the front page! This is un-american. I won't stand for it.
    Nov 27, 2012 at 7:19 PM
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  • Dan
    You make this out to be an easy decision. Remember Smith is having arguably his best season yet and numbers that could even warrant a Pro Bowl...dare I say! I will support whoever the QB is. I support the colors not the player but I did not see "lightning in a bottle" on Sunday with Kaepernick like every person with an opinion seems to think. Opinions are like a$$es...everybody has one! He was above average at best and pretty much on an even playing field to what Smith has done all year long. I watched the game 3 times just to try and see what all the fuss is about! Everybody needs to put 2005-2010 aside. Cast it overboard. It is gone. Look forward regardless of QB. With all the waiting it is clear that Harbaugh is feeling things out with the other 52 guys on the roster. He wants them to point their preference and then he will run with it and call it his decision. I have lost some respect for Harbaugh in the veil of half truths he is spreading the last couple weeks. He knows if he keeps winning everybody will forget quickly. I hope he wins it all or everybody with an opinion will be using their 20/20 hindsight!!
    Nov 27, 2012 at 7:07 PM
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  • Kauaiguy
    I know there's a lot of sympathy for Alex Smith. But this is a business and if my job is to win games and put butts in the seats, then I'm going with the guy who is capable of doing just that. Also, it's hard for me to have sympathy for someone making several millions of dollars and I'm making my measly $8-20 an hour.
    Nov 27, 2012 at 7:03 PM
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  • Lucky Phil
    Jeff, you got bumped off the "webzone exclusives" section, what gives? You piss off your editor? Is Harbaugh looking to punch you out? You know he has done that before, just ask Jim Kelly!
    Nov 27, 2012 at 7:00 PM
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    Response: Nope, it's just been busy here at Webzone HQ. But don't fret, Phil. There's plenty of room for all of us.
  • Shaj
    DAMN. That was the best 49ers article I've read in over a year, and I've read them all. Nice work!! You SHOULD be a writer. You'd be unpopular as hell, but at least you say what you think, and you say it pretty damn convincingly as well. Keep it up!!
    Nov 27, 2012 at 6:39 PM
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    Response: Thanks, Shaj.
  • mike v
    Great article. The fact that we've had an RGIII type player sitting on the bench is the biggest pleasant surprise since Aldon Smith.
    Nov 27, 2012 at 6:34 PM
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  • 49 Madness
    Enough is enough for this nonsense, Jeff. Your bias on Alex Smith has reached the limit.
    Nov 27, 2012 at 6:21 PM
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    Response: Rhetorical question: how does a preference for Kaepernick, supported by both logic and statistics, show a "bias" against Smith?
  • Sten
    Great points! Most people forget that Young started off as an athletic freak but mediocre QB. It wasn't until he became disciplined, and a QB first, that he was great at his position. Perhaps he was a stubborn learner. Only one point of disagreement, to the "league's most spectacular young QB" comment. Right now I'd have to give the edge to Luck and RG3 due to a few more games of experience, but Kaep is on track to derail them both.
    Nov 27, 2012 at 5:39 PM
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  • Joel AKA Faceless
    Kaepernick is simply better than Alex Smith, it may be hard for Alex Smith fan boys to understand this... but it is true.
    Nov 27, 2012 at 5:31 PM
    0

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