San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback Alex Smith wasn't given clearance to play in Monday night's game against the Chicago Bears due to a concussion he suffered in last week's tie with the St. Louis Rams. However, they didn't need him in downing the Bears, 32-7.
Behind a stout defense and a masterfully-called game plan, backup Colin Kaepernick was able to lead San Francisco to the victory. Completing 16-of-23 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns, the second-year quarterback showed what he is capable of doing if given the chance to start full time.
Based on this tweet from ESPN's Chris Mortensen, he might just get his shot.
49ers coach Jim Harbaugh on QB starter next time out, Smith or Kaepernick: We'll see.Tend to go with hot hand.— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) November 20, 2012
If both are healthy, who should be the starter in San Francisco?
Though Kaepernick came in and did what he was supposed to do, there is absolutely no way Smith's starting job should be in jeopardy. Not a knock on Kaepernick, but he did nothing tonight that Smith can't do—in fact, Smith has done it all year long for the 7-2-1 49ers.
So far in 2012, Smith is completing 70 percent of his passes, has thrown 13 touchdowns to only five interceptions and is third in the league with a 104.1 quarterback rating. Over his last two seasons, the seven-year veteran has become the ultimate game manager—exactly what the 49ers need under center.
While San Francisco seemingly can't go wrong with either quarterback, playing the hot hand—as suggested by Harbaugh—could eventually cause a divide in the locker room, ultimately resulting in losses.
Having a capable backup in the NFL is a luxury that most teams don't have. However, the 49ers do and should keep it that way unless Smith is unable to go.