The San Francisco 49ers drafted Alex Smith with the first overall pick in the 2005 draft to be their franchise quarterback. Fast forward eight seasons and Alex Smith is still trying to become that franchise quarterback. This article will show why it is time to move on from Alex Smith and give second-round draft pick Colin Kaepernick an opportunity to be the franchise quarterback they have been looking for.
It was clear from the moment that Colin Kaepernick threw his first pass Monday night against the Chicago Bears that his arm strength was on a whole different level from that of Alex Smith. Kaepernick threw a 12 yard out route off of his back foot on the first play of the game that Smith could of never made.
While arm strength is never the definitive factor on what makes a great quarterback, it is a great foundation to build off of. The velocity with which he throws the football makes the whole offense run at a different speed. Plays develop more quickly and take less time to execute when the ball is getting to the receivers faster. The 57-yard completion to Kyle Williams on the second drive of the game is a good example of a play that can not be executed without a strong arm.
The attributes that Kaepernick brings to the quarterback position, in the form of his strong arm and quick feet, change the way Coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman can call plays.
Because of his ability to run, the 49ers can run more formations like the read option, speed option and play-action roll-outs. And because of Kaepernick's arm strength, they are able to run a wider variety of routes such as deep outs and flag patterns. Kaepernick's abilities open up a whole new variety of plays that a defense has to prepare for.
Colin Kaepernick's ability to run as well as pass presents other problems for an opposing defense. First, opposing defenses must have their defensive ends seal the edge to avoid having Kaepernick take off down field. Otherwise, they must have a linebacker or safety act as a spy around the line of scrimmage to contain the quarterback. Both one of these scenarios can cause problems for the defense. Either their pass rush will suffer and they will get less pressure on the quarterback, or they will leave the middle of the field more open for play-makers like Vernon Davis or Michael Crabtree to work.
His ability to throw the deep ball also will keep safeties from being able to play too close to the line of scrimmage. And if a defense does play too close to the line of scrimmage, it would leave their cornerbacks in one-on-one situations that the 49ers could exploit.
Colin Kaeparnick is already showing an ability to be more productive than Alex Smith.
In nine starts this year, Smith has had only one game where he has thrown for more yards than Kaepernick did on Monday night. This is made more impressive when considering that the Chicago Bears have the highest-rated defense the 49ers have faced so far this season. The 32 points amassed by the 49ers offense on Monday night has also only been surpassed once this season with Alex Smith under center. Kaepernick was also able to complete two passes of 30+ yards against a Chicago defense that had only allowed four such plays all season.
The 49ers are well aware of Alex Smith's potential and ability.
At best, Alex Smith will be a middle-of-the-road, average-arm-strength game manager that will never make big mistakes or an abundance of big plays.
Colin Kaepernick has a major, unmeasurable attribute that Alex doesn't: potential. Kaepernick's combination of a strong arm and quick feet give him the tools necessary to develop into a play-maker in the NFL.
While Kaepernick is still incredibly raw and is not as polished as Alex Smith is at this point in his career, one can not disagree that his potential to be a great quarterback is much higher.
The sooner that Jim Harbaugh hands the keys to the offense over to Colin Kaepernick, the sooner the 49ers can find out just exactly how far he can take them.