Jim Harbaugh Owes Nothing to Alex Smith, Must Commit to Colin Kaepernick
We can all agree that Alex Smith has done an admirable job since Jim Harbaugh took over. Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman have game-planned and micro-managed Smith to death—that's why he has been so successful.
Let's face it, from 2005 to 2010 he had never thrown for 3,000 yards in a single season, averaged over six yards per attempt, thrown more than 15 touchdown passes in one season and never had a completion percentage above 60 percent.
In one year Harbaugh helped him set career highs in every major statistical category. Yet, all of that means absolutely nothing if you end up watching the Super Bowl from the same place as everyone else in America.
Sure, he deserved the Ed Block Courage Award and he probably deserved to win Comeback Player of the Year because of his poor 2010 season, but none of those things make him the future of the San Francisco 49ers.
Colin Kaepernick was the 36th pick in the draft for a reason. The NFL is a tough, cutthroat business that has swallowed up and spit out bigger fish than Smith before. Harbaugh shouldn't feel like he has any allegiance to No. 11—he inherited Smith and he drafted Kaepernick.
It's baffling to me that he is really having a tough time naming a starting quarterback. One can argue that the second-year player out of Nevada has already done a better job than the eight-year pro out of Utah.
A 20-6-1 record since the beginning of 2011 is impressive, no question. However, anyone in their right mind knows Kaepernick could have done just as well if he had seven years of experience under his belt and the league's best defense.
Fortunately for the 49ers, when you turn on the tape Kaepernick already appears to be the more polished quarterback. His arm mechanics, footwork, ball placement and ability to process information and read coverage quickly is already more advanced than Smith.
Not to mention Kaepernick hasn't developed Smith's bad habit of watching the rush. He has, however, developed Smith's habit of mismanaging the play clock at the line of scrimmage. There were a couple of times yesterday where he audibled out of a play with the clock dwindling down to zero.
Luckily, those types of mistakes are easily correctable going forward. There's nothing more to it than having a better sense of awareness at the line of scrimmage. And a better sense of awareness will come to him as he makes more starts and is put in more live-game situations.
Despite the play-clock woes and the one interception, what else was there to be mad about? He finished Sunday's game 16-of-25 for 231 yards and a touchdown. He also managed to add a rushing touchdown from seven yards out.
Over the course of his first two starts, Kaepernick has completed 66.8 percent of his passes. His quarterback rating is an eye-opening 111.85 and he notched the longest throw of the season for the 49ers: a 57-yard pass to Kyle Williams against the Bears in Week 11.
All of that brings me to this, why would you let the players decide who the quarterback will be?
49ers coach Jim Harbaugh at his press conference said he will not announce QB before he has a chance to meet with players, who are off today— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoCSN) November 26, 2012
I get that it's important to have their input going forward, but Coach Harbaugh has to realize that he needs to play the quarterback who gives the 49ers the best chance to continuously win long term. Kaepernick actually has the physical attributes to take this offense to the next level and lead them to a Super Bowl.
Smith does not possess those same attributes. After eight years in the NFL, we all know what we are getting from him. Put the playmaking, 25-year-old kid in the game for good. Harbaugh needs to remember he doesn't owe Smith a thing—he had a good run and he got hurt. That's it.
It just so happens that Kaepernick is ready to start full time after one year of sitting and learning. We all know the old saying that goes "sh*t or get off the pot", well it's time for Harbaugh to sh*t. Don't hold this team back by wavering any longer.
San Francisco is 8-2-1 right now with the No. 2 seed in the NFC. Kaep hasn't hurt the 49ers in anyway over the last two weeks—he has actually made Roman's offense much harder to game-plan for based on his versatility.
Come Wednesday, let's just hope Coach Harbaugh makes the right call.
Follow @TysonNFL on Twitter.
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