After benching Alex Smith for Colin Kaepernick, all Jim Harbaugh wants for Christmas is a mulligan.
The San Francisco 49ers’ head coach’s decision to go with the hot hand backfired on Sunday evening as his squad fell to the St. Louis Rams by the score of 16-13 in overtime. He must hand the reins back to Smith or the 49ers will continue to fall short of their potential.
Kaepernick didn’t have a poor passing performance—that’s not why he should be benched. He completed 21 of 32 passes for 208 yards. Kaepernick added an impressive 84 yards on the ground as well.
But while he’s capable of filling up a stat sheet like Smith can’t, the former first-overall pick boasts superior experience which translates to Ws.
And on Sunday, Kaepernick’s inexperience translated to a L.
Up 7-0 in the third quarter, the second-year quarterback decided to help the Rams get on the board by scrambling 17 yards in the wrong direction, into the end zone and drawing an intentional grounding penalty. The two points that St. Louis was rewarded with just happened to be exactly what it needed to force overtime.
Those weren’t the only points Kaepernick scored for the Rams, though.
He also botched an option toss, pitching the football over Ted Ginn Jr.’s head. The ball ended up in Janoris Jenkins’ hands, who waltzed into the end zone.
It’s safe to say Kaepernick isn’t the hot hand anymore. And the fact that Smith was so scorching prior to his baffling benching should, in theory, make Harbaugh pull the trigger on a swap without hesitation.
In his last two appearances, Smith finished 25-27 passing for 304 yards and four touchdowns.
That's insane. But a couple fluke performances you say?
Adam Schefter begs to differ.
Smith’s passer rating is 104.1. He had led the 49ers to a 6-2 record prior to his injury. Not only is he putting up phenomenal numbers, but he knows how to win better than Kaepernick.
The former Nevada QB may be the 49ers’ future. But this season, San Francisco’s best shot to win a Super Bowl is with Smith under center.
Bonehead mistakes don’t win championships. Kaepernick had two on Sunday which cost the 49ers the game.
Sure, he’s showed flashes of brilliance the previous two weeks. But can the inexperienced Kaepernick avoid those bonehead mistakes for three-to-four straight games in the postseason?
Given that he hasn’t even accomplished that in the regular season, Harbaugh would be foolish to roll the dice on the young gun with so much at stake.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.