Highlighting Alex Smith's Claim to 49ers Starting QB Spot

Nick Kostora@@nickkostoraContributor IIIOctober 18, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 18:  Quarterback Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers smiles before a game against the Seattle Seahawks on October 18, 2012 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Sometimes in the aftermath of a tough defeat there can be panic and chaos, such is the case for some supporting the San Francisco 49ers.

They say the most popular player on a team is the backup quarterback, and after a three-interception performance by Alex Smith against the New York Giants, there is clamor for Colin Kaepernick.

However, Smith still has the rightful claim to the starting spot and is the proper man to lead San Francisco.

This is not the first time Smith has been the unpopular guy; QBs like JT O'Sullivan, Davis Carr, Troy Smith and Shaun Hill have all sat on the bench ready to supplant him in years past.

What must be realized is that Smith, despite one poor performance, is a consistent presence at QB, and while he rarely dazzles, he is usually good.

The former No. 1 pick had just one interception all season before Sunday, and he has a completion percentage of 67.7 with eight touchdowns.

Smith finally has consistency on the sidelines, with the same head coach and offensive coordinator in consecutive seasons for the first time in what seems like his entire career.

Yes, Kaepernick is an exciting player and has a stronger arm than the incumbent, but is he really the better option?

The 49ers offense is not based on the deep ball. It is based on short and intermediate routes that find quick seams in defenses, and a hard-nosed rushing attack that is not afraid to pound the ball between the tackles.

Even when asked to throw the long ball Smith has found some success. His 55-yard toss to Randy Moss on Sunday being a prime example.

Kaepernick has a bright future in the NFL and may someday be the starting QB in San Francisco, but right now he is best utilized in the occasional specialty package or watching and learning from the sidelines.

I say the occasional package because overusing his option based sets and formations can both detract from the flow of the offense and lessen the element of surprise it presents.

San Francisco's attack is best when it finds a solid rhythm and flow. Four yards from Frank Gore, 5-yard out route to Vernon Davis, 8-yard curl from Michael Crabtree, etc.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh is going to put the best quarterback on the field. If he believed that was Kaepernick, a switch would have already been made. The truth is that in spite of one atrocious showing, Smith is still a reliable signal-caller that can lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl.

Will he ever be the main catalyst for their success?

Perhaps not, but San Francisco can win with Smith under center, and he will rarely turn the ball over or make head scratching plays.

Does Kaepernick offer that same security?

Not at this point in his career. Smith is the right man in San Francisco and will be for the foreseeable future.