While many people are buying into San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh’s choice of starting first-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick over veteran Alex Smith, I strongly oppose this decision.
Although there is strong evidence recently with wins over Chicago and New Orleans to support Harbaugh’s move in starting Kaepernick over Smith, Harbaugh’s choice may be in error.
I have been a longtime 49ers fan since the early ‘90s when they won their last Super Bowl title under the guidance of coach George Seifert and quarterback Steve Young. I have seen my share of highs and lows. The last quarterback controversy in San Francisco history led the team into an age of chaos for 49er fans, young and old.
People have compared Smith to Joe Montana in that they both sit back in the pocket and a make smart precision-like passes to receivers. Kaepernick has drawn comparisons to Young in that they both like to make plays with their feet, often running for a first down or a touchdown.
This controversy, which threatened to disrupt the chemistry of the 49ers after they had won four championships with Montana at the helm, never fully played out. San Francisco was able to dodge a bullet as it parted ways with Montana, who moved on to Kansas City. The 49ers were able to capture a fifth title with Young steering the team.
Fast-forward to today, and after toiling in the bottom of the NFC West for nearly a decade, the 49ers have emerged with an elite team, especially on defense. The offense is and always has remained a question mark for San Francisco since the days of Montana and Young.
The role of starting quarterback Smith, who has slowly developed into a leader since his entry into the NFL seven years ago, has help the offense mature.
Smith has progressed in his quarterback rating each year since the 2009-10 season. In nine games this year, Smith has thrown 13 touchdowns and most likely is on pace to surpass his season-high record of 18, set in the 2009-10 season. Let’s not also forget that Smith led the 49ers to a 13-3 record last year and a No. 2 seed in the playoffs.
While much of the current success that San Francisco is having is due to Harbaugh and his mastermind schemes, mainly offensively, Smith has profited tremendously. Smith should be given the benefit of the doubt and allowed to continue to start for the 49ers.
Teammates have recently voiced their opinions, specifically San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis. Smith and Davis have grown and developed together in the past six years as not only players but also as friends. This relationship has certainly affected Davis in coming closer to Smith and he believes that Smith should continue to lead the team.
I would agree with Davis and cite that the last time the 49ers came close to a quarterback controversy, they were hit with a wave of disappointing seasons.
Smith has veteran presence, and the ability to make sound judgments. Kaepernick has all the physical tools to be an exceptional player in the NFL. But, I still choose Smith, and Harbaugh should believe in him, too.
However, with Harbaugh’s track record as a wild and unpredictable personality, fans can only expect so much. The days of Kaepernick starting at quarterback could last for the rest of the season. Or they could end just as fast as his rise to prominence.
San Francisco fans will have to wait and watch.