Alex Smith is a quarterback who has been successful in the past. Colin Kaepernick is a quarterback who might be successful in the future. San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh has a dilemma. Coach Harbaugh has put his team's season on the line for Kaepernick, who he feels has the bigger upside, and it could come back to haunt him.
There is little question that Kaepernick seems to have all the tools that would make him an elite NFL quarterback. There is a big question, however, if Kaepernick has enough experience to take over the reigns for a team contending for a Super Bowl.
Colin Kaepernick has shown glimpses of what he can offer, and it is an improvement over the skill set of Alex Smith. For starters, he has a stronger arm. He also has better pocket presence and is a more skilled runner. Kaepernick is the future for the San Francisco 49ers.
But is he the best option right now?
Before we get too caught up in how talented Kaepernick seems to be, let's not forget that he is six inches away from being 1-2-1 in the four games he has played this season. After throwing an interception against the New Orleans Saints just before halftime in a game the 49ers trailed 14-7, he gave the Saints an opportunity.
With less than a minute left in the half, Drew Brees threw a deep sideline pattern to Devery Henderson that was caught at the San Francisco 8-yard line. Henderson only had one foot inbounds, however, with the other just over the line by six inches. The very next play was a pick-six which turned what probably would have been a 21-7 deficit into a 14-14 tie going into halftime. Had it not been for those six inches, San Francisco would have lost that game in New Orleans.
Although that is not really here nor there, the point is with the tie and loss against St. Louis, Kaepernick could easily have only one win in four games. That's simply not good enough to turn away from Alex Smith.
What Alex Smith offers San Francisco is a guy who has proven to be excellent at game management. He is not, nor ever will be, a dynamic quarterback, but he does not turn the ball over. He makes good decisions and lets the 49ers defense win games for the team.
San Francisco has the potential to have a very good offense, but their best opportunity to win a Super Bowl is to limit offensive mistakes, control field position, and allow the defense to shut down the opposing offense.
Alex Smith can do that. He has done that. And he should continue to do that for the rest of this season.
Like all young quarterbacks with limited experience, Kaepernick is going to make mistakes. He is a kid that has never played in a game with the magnitude of the NFL postseason. At some point, he is going to have a regrettable game. Maybe more than one regrettable game.
The San Francisco 49ers better hope that doesn't happen in the playoffs.
Coach Harbaugh is making a mistake putting this much pressure on his franchise quarterback so early in Kaepernick's career. He has a better option with a veteran quarterback that has playoff experience and can lead the 49ers to where they want to get.
He should use that option.