I knew going into the 49ers vs Bears game that a possibility existed that Colin Kaepernick would play well enough to ignite a quarterback controversy, but I never dreamed of what actually happened. Kaepernick was flat out awesome, so good in fact that I can’t remember a performance by a QB that was that good, that electric since the days of Steve Young.
When asked after the game if CK7 would be his starting QB going forward, head coach Jim Harbaugh did nothing to quiet the QB controversy saying that he didn’t know, they would look at it and he usually goes with the hot hand and right now he has two guys with a hot hand. He’s right, Alex Smith has won 20 of his last 28 starts for the 49ers, he’s the third highest rated QB in the league and first in completion percentage. He’s thrown the fewest amount of interceptions since the start of last year and he beat the Saints in the playoffs last season in a thrilling fourth quarter drive.
So what should Harbaugh do now? It’s tough to call, on one hand if he makes the switch to Kaepernick now he cannot turn back he has to go all in with the kid or risk ruining his confidence. If he goes with Smith and the 49ers do not go onto win the Super Bowl then all we will hear about the entire off season is what would have happened if he would have made the switch to Kaepernick.
What happens when teams have all week to prepare for Kaepernick? What happens when the team is behind and he is asked to lead the team down the field for a game winning drive? What happens when the running game isn’t clicking and the game is all on him? What happens when the defense isn’t playing lights out?
It’s because of all those questions that I would go with Alex Smith. If Smith struggles then Harbaugh can always turn to Kaepernick and have the best backup QB in the league, a veteran who could step in if there is an injury and the veteran could handle it, after all, I can’t think of a player in the league who has gone through as much as Alex Smith has.
Not only would I start Smith next week against the Saints (assuming he’s medically cleared to play) I would bring him back next season. Alex isn’t making huge money and neither is Colin and as the Bears proved Monday night, you can never have too many good QBs on the roster. Have the two compete in training camp for the job and if Kaepernick unseats Smith as the starter then you can go into the season with two good QBs you are confident in leading the team or trade him to a team desperate for a QB for draft picks.
Then again, Kaepernick did things in this offense that Alex can’t and won’t do. He pushed the ball down field, he threw the ball into tight windows, he hit the deep ball, he scrambled effectively and we all know he can be one of the best running QBs in the entire NFL. Watching that game suggests that this offense will really take off with him at the helm assuming he can be the player we saw against the Bears on a consistent basis. Just imagining that kind of dynamic QB with the weapons the 49ers have is fun, thinking of the future with those players and speedsters LaMichael James and AJ Jenkins added to the mix is even more fun.
This debate won’t die here and it’s likely to be a hot topic for quite some time, likely until one of these signal callers is on another NFL roster. Potentially the best thing for the 49ers would be if Alex isn’t cleared by the medical staff to play next week against the Saints giving the coaching staff another week to watch him play against a good team and on the road.
What do you want to see the 49ers do with the starting QB job?