49ers have ‘good problem’ Smith vs. Kaepernick - The Behrend Beacon

49ers have ‘good problem’ Smith vs. Kaepernick

Posted on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 8:50 PM

Author: Paul Burykin (staff writer)

Colin Kaepernick

The head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, Jim Harbaugh, has a difficult decision to make toward the end of this NFL season.  He needs to decide which quarterback he wants to start for the rest of the season as his team moves into the playoffs.

For the first half of the season, Alex Smith was the starter.  A couple weeks ago he got a concussion during the first quarter against the St. Louis Rams.  He stayed in for rest of the drive immediately after his concussion to score a touchdown, but he sat out the rest of the game after that touchdown. 

Backup Colin Kaepernick finished the game against the Rams, which ended in a tie.  The next week, Smith still had symptoms from the concussion.  Kaepernick started this game against the Chicago Bears.  The Bears were considered to be one the best teams in the NFC, and one of the best defensive teams in the league.  

Kaepernick didn’t just play well against the Bears.  He led the 49ers to a victory that stunned the Bears, surprised announcers, and impressed his coaches.  He threw for two touchdowns and 243 yards in a flawless 32–7 victory.  

As a result of this performance, coach Jim Harbaugh decided to go with the “hot hand” and start Kaepernick again in the next game against the New Orleans Saints.  This was despite the fact that Smith was healthy and ready to play.

Kaepernick led the 49ers to another victory against the Saints with a mediocre performance in this game.  He is a second year player with limited experience in the NFL.  In the past, other quarterbacks have started their careers well, and later began playing poorly.

It is possible that Kaepernick had a couple good games because defenses didn’t know what to expect from him.  This would mean his level of performance would diminish over time as other teams get to know Kaepernick’s playing style.

Along with that, no first time starter has ever led his team to win a Super Bowl.  The 49ers are looking to win the Super Bowl this season as they made it to the NFC Championship game last season.

They made it that far with Smith at the quarterback position.  Smith played the best games of his career during those playoffs.  If it wasn’t for a couple fumbles on special teams, the 49ers likely would have won the championship game last season and went to the Super Bowl.

This season, Smith has continued to improve.  He was ranked third best quarterback in the league before his injury.  He broke the quarterback efficiency record by completing 18 out of 19 passes the game before his injury.

Now, coach Jim Harbaugh has a “good problem” in San Francisco.  He needs to decide which quarterback is better for his team.  The season for the 49ers may not turn out well if Coach Harbaugh makes a poor decision. 

Alex Smith isn’t exactly a pro bowl quarterback.  When he plays, he does what his team needs him to do, but sometimes his team needs him to play like a pro bowl quarterback.  Smith has played at that level before but not on a consistent basis.   

The 49ers’ only two loses this season came in games when the 49ers focused on passing with Alex Smith.  He didn’t do well in those games, throwing 3 interceptions in one of those games.

Aside from those games, the 49ers controlled games through running the ball and playing elite defense.  Smith worked as a game manager who didn’t turn the ball over in those games.

Both Kaepernick and Smith have bright sides mixed with uncertainty in the long run.  Coach Harbaugh has to use his best judgment to decide which quarterback will prove any uncertainty about him is wrong.