San Francisco 49ers

49ers vs. Saints: Big Game for Colin Kaepernick Would Make Alex Smith Expendable

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 14:  Quarterbacks Alex Smith #11 and Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers  prepare to take the field for the start of the NFC Divisional playoff game against the New Orleans Saints at Candlestick Park on January 14, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIINovember 25, 2012

How many different ways can the San Francisco 49ers tell Alex Smith that they aren't satisfied with him?

The team traded up to draft Colin Kaepernick in 2011 and then tried to sign Peyton Manning in the offseason (New York Times), even though Smith nearly led the team to the Super Bowl, and now Smith has apparently lost his starting job for a 7-2-1 team because of injury (Los Angeles Times).

He has been cleared to play by a concussion specialist, per ESPN, but he'll be holding the clipboard on Sunday.

If that's not disrespect, I don't know what is.

Kaepernick will start for the Niners vs. the New Orleans Saints, and if he plays well, I'm willing to bet the Niners entertain interest for their former No. 1 overall pick. Every team needs two capable quarterbacks, but Smith signed a three-year $24 million contract extension in March, per CSN Bay Area.

No team wants to pay a backup an average of $8 million per year. All this talk about Kaepernick and Smith rotating (per ESPN) is hog wash—at least as a long-term arrangement.

The Niners will have to pick someone.

If Kaepernick plays well in Week 12 and subsequently finishes the season strong, it only makes sense that Smith would be made available to the highest bidder. Kaepernick looked great against the Chicago Bears on Monday night, but I believe in Smith as a winning NFL quarterback.

He isn't a 350-yard per game guy, but he has proven he can manage a game, and he can make plays with his arm and legs. The Niners were a play or two away from playing in the Super Bowl last season. Smith didn't cost his team in the playoff run.

As a matter of fact, were it not for his 14-yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis and 28-yard touchdown run, the Niners wouldn't have beaten the Saints in the NFC Divisional Playoff game.

Now as the Niners take on a red-hot Saints team, Smith is healthy, but not starting. Unless Kaepernick implodes down the stretch, Smith will be wearing a different uniform in 2013.

 

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