Colin Kaepernick: Jim Harbaugh Taking Major Gamble Handing Keys to 2nd Year QB

Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIDecember 1, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - NOVEMBER 19:  Head coach Jim Harbaugh talks to  Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers in the second quarter against the Chicago Bears at Candlestick Park on November 19, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Colin Kaepernick has more upside than Alex Smith, but is he the best choice to lead the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl this year? The 49ers are again taking a bit of a gamble at Smith's expense.

This offseason, they unsuccessfully chased Peyton Manning while putting Smith's contract situation on the back burner. Now, Jim Harbaugh has chosen to go with the young and talented Kaepernick,even though Smith did nothing to lose his job.

There is a school of thought that says you can't blame the Niners or Harbaugh for either decision, but make no mistake, both decisions can be classified as major gambles.

Smith could have taken an offer from another team this offseason. If he had done that, the Niners would have been forced to go with Kaepernick as the starter from Week 1.

In this latest gamble, the Niners are putting their season in the hands of a 25-year-old who has thrown 79 passes in only 11 games played in his two-year NFL career. He is expressly talented, but 79 passes is 79 passes.

If the Niners continue to roll into the playoffs, Harbaugh will look like an non-sentimental genius, but if Kaepernick stumbles the label will be different.

Imagine the headlines if Kaepernick throws three interceptions in the Niners' first playoff game, and the team loses. Fans, media and everyone else will say that the Niners would have been better off with the more experienced Smith—at least for this season.

I can't understand what the issue is with Smith. Does he have an extreme body odor issue or something? Why would you be in a hurry to replace a quarterback that just won NFC Player of the Week.

Smith had completed 39-of-50 passes in his last three games with five touchdowns and one interception. In addition to the strong play, he was hurt—not benched to give Kaepernick his opportunity. 

All of this will be footnotes to the rise of Kaepernick if things work out. It is somewhat similar to what transpired in New England in 2001. Tom Brady replaced an injured Drew Bledsoe and Bledsoe never permanently regained his spot.

Bledsoe ended up drifting to Dallas and Buffalo before retiring in 2006. We know how the whole Brady thing turned out. At this point, Harbaugh and company have to hope for a similar story.


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