If you live around the Bay Area, or anywhere in the US for that matter, and follow daily sports talk, you've probably heard the rumblings coming out of San Francisco about "QB controversy" and "Smith or Kaepernick". After Sunday's game with New Orleans, we should all have our answer.
First off, Alex Smith has got to be thinking to himself, "what in the world, do I need to do to get this city behind me?" He helped take them from irrelevance to the door-step of the Super Bowl in 2011 with a career year, now, on pace for another career campaign, he appears to have become 2nd fiddle to Colin Kaepernick. After all, Smith was coming off a 3-TD performance and was playing well before being knocked out by St. Louis in weeks 8 and 10. He also is carrying a surprising 104 QB rating and a 13/5 TD to INT ratio. But just like that, he goes down vs. the Rams with a concussion, and it really opened the door for a guy the 49ers have been showcasing all year long in different packages. I think the 49ers really like Smith as a game manager, and a guy who can make the plays you ask him to, but he's not a guy who's really going to go above and beyond like a RGIII or a Peyton Manning. Not saying Kaep will, but he's shown glimpses of being able to do some pretty terrific things with the football. This is why so many people have been asking for a change atop the QB depth chart in San Francisco. Not cause Smith wasn't doing the job, but because people believe Kaepernick can be something special.
So, in steps Kaepernick, who is lined up for his second career start Sunday vs. the surging New Orleans Saints, who have been on a tear since their ugly start to the season. This is the game that should really determine where the Niners go with their QB rotation from here on out though, as Smith is likely going to be cleared, but will not start and will be relegated to back-up or emergency number 3 duties. This is really the showcase for Kaep too. I mean, he looked great vs. Chicago last week, throwing for 243 yards and a couple of scores with a 70% completion rating and a 133 QB rate. Oh yeah, did I mention he did it vs. a daunting Chicago D that typically just terrorizes young QB's. He showed that big arm and athleticism, but what really makes the difference for me, he knows when to pull the ball in and run out of trouble. Too often, Alex sticks in the pocket waiting for something to happen and gets nailed, or gets rid of the ball too early to avoid pressure and misses a guy he couldn't get around to finding. Kaep has the ability to run away from that and buy more time for receivers. Much quicker in and out of the pocket and he's showing he's already got some veteran savvy to him with his smart choices out there on the field. This kid isn't a game manager, he's a game changer.
In short, at least in my opinion, ff Kaep can reel off two victories in a row over the Bears and Saints, Harbough isn't going to sit him back down. I just don't see that happening. On the other hand, if he comes out flat, makes "rookie mistakes" and doesn't get the 49ers off to a good start, then we could see 'ole Alex back there before long. This is the game that should determine, at least for the rest of 2012, who's behind center for the San Francisco 49ers, and I can't wait!