Despite Jim Harbaugh’s recent statement on Alex Smith being “our guy” for the 49ers at quarterback, Colin Kaepernick said the QB spot is an “open job”. In an interview with the Reno Gazette-Journal, Kaepernick said the following in response to this question from a reader:
Q: Is the 49ers coaching staff going to let you practice to be the starter, or does Smith get the starting job again? I can’t wait until you’re the starter. The Niners need more weapons on offense, and your arm sure is the key.
Kaepernick: Someone told me Coach Harbaugh said it’s an open job. It will be earned. I think they’ll give me a fair shot.
Niner fans are left wondering, who is this someone telling Kaepernick the position is an open competition? Harbaugh’s full statement regarding Smith being their man under center is the most concrete we have from him that Smith will be re-signed and start at QB.
“We’re all in lockstep as an organization that Alex Smith is our guy. It’s well-documented. You saw the way he played this year. (He is a) tremendous leader on our football team.”
You cannot fault Kaepernick for thinking he can challenge Smith at starting quarterback. If anything, the fire inside Kaepernick is good for his development and good for Smith knowing there is someone eager to start behind him. Baring a horrible training camp or preseason, and Smith regressing back to his ways, there is no doubt Alex will be the starter come week one. Even if Kaepernick has a great training camp and preseason that screams start me!, Smith will still be the starter because of his seven years of experience, knowledge of the offense and the way he played last season.
All you have to do is look at Smith’s stats from this past season in which he had career highs in passing yards (3,144), completion percentage (61.4) and passer rating (90.7) to know he is the best person for the 49ers to start at quarterback. Smith was resilient in the playoffs against the Saints and Giants which is something I cannot imagine Kaepernick duplicating, at least not in the 2012 season.
On top of all that, here is more evidence that Smith is not only coming back, but will be the starter:
- Harbaugh praised Smith all season.
- Harbaugh said Smith should be in the Pro Bowl.
- Smith accepted Harbaugh’s Coach of the Year award at the NFL Honors show on Super Bowl eve. There were plenty of other 49ers in attendance and under contract who could have accepted the award.
- Smith served as Harbaugh’s caddie on the first day of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am charity event this week.
I hope Kaepernick gives Smith a run for his money in training camp and the preseason. It will only make both quarterbacks better prepared for the season. But Kaepernick is delusional if he thinks the quarterback position is an open completion.
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