Will Harbaugh’s choice of starting Kaepernick over Smith go on to Haunt the 49’ers?
The short-lived Quarteback ‘controversy’ in San Francisco has now come to an end, with Colin Kaepernick coming out as the apparent victor.
Jim Harbaugh wasted no time making up his mind on who he thinks is better fit to start on Sunday. Reports broke late Wednesday that Harbaugh would not only be starting Kaepernick, but that his decision to do so is performance based–not because Smith is nursing an injury. A subtle, but deep blow into the psyche of a fragile Quarterback like Alex Smith.
Here is why the 49’ers rash move to crown Kaepernick is not only a bad idea, but one that may have just destroyed their season from the inside out. First off, let’s give Kaepernick a round of applause, coming into last Sunday’s game Kaepernick had much to prove and was pigeon held in the role as a ‘rushing’ QB and judged strictly off his college stint. He put on a game for the ages against the Bears, throwing 16 of 23 for 243 yards no picks…wonderful stuff and obviously the reason for why so much speculation has taken place. But with that said let us not forget that A) The Bears without Cutler (who was injured) are a totally and completely team. His absence bleeds into the Bears’ defense, which in this game–to quote Bart Scott, couldn’t stop a nosebleed. and B) What did Kaepernick do that was different from Alex Smith’s week in and week out play?
Let me go on to explain the latter point, Alex Smith is Alex Smith, he’s not Tom Brady and he’s not Eli or Peyton Manning, can we all accept it? He doesn’t put up crazy numbers, but what he does is he maintains the status quo through his EFFICIENCY, there’s no glitz or glamor about his game, it’s methodical and effective. Harbaugh has created a system in which the offense and defense work in harmony, the goal of the offense is to keep the chains moving–first and foremost. Alex Smith doesn’t throw picks, that is one thing about him that’s veritably indispensable. Smith completes 70% of his passes–the best in the league, remind you. Simply put, Smith gets the job done so why would Harbaugh go out of his way to slight Smith?
This isn’t the 49’ers first go-around with the ‘throw Smith under the bus’ game. During the off season the 49’ers went begging Peyton Manning to come be their starter, on hands and knees practically and were thusly rejected. Not even five seconds after the dust settled, and the reality that Smith was there to stay and the 49’ers went on a media tour trying to downplay the ‘thirst’ they had for Manning. They were fond of the word ‘workout’, who the hell has Peyton Manning come to their facility to just workout unless they had intentions of signing him? It was quite comical to say the least. But the 49’ers backpedaled out of what could’ve been a devastating blow, which could’ve left Smith to test the open market more aggressively.
The most dangerous thing about Harbaugh’s decision is the disturbance it does to the relationship balance of Smith and Harbaugh. Alex Smith is everything he is today because of Jim’s faith in him and vice-versa. Now, there’s this slap in the face Harbaugh’s just pulled all because he’s found a new shiny ‘toy’ in Kaepernick. It’s prisoner of the moment mentality at it’s finest, one good game and suddenly Kaepernick is the Brady to Smith’s Bledsoe? I think not. But it’s the long term affect of such a decision that will prove whether this was a success or epic fail. This was a Superbowl bound team with Smith–not with Kaepernick, but with Smith, so if I’m Smith this isn’t sitting good with me at all. The first crack in what looked to be an impenetrable seal has been broken, one bad game by Kaepernick this Sunday and this is going to look quite messy.