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The San Francisco 49ers last franchise quarterback was Steve Young. Sure, they have had some success since his departure. But Jeff Garcia was no franchise player. And apparently Alex Smith won't be either.
Smith either fooled everybody with his 2005-2010 production or with his 2011-2012 seasons. He was a No. 1 draft pick and then stunk up the joint until Jim Harbaugh resurrected his career in 2011. Smith was a score away from the Super Bowl last year and even inked a new deal heading into this year, even after the team pursued Peyton Manning.
However, an injury gave the job to Colin Kaepernick and he has ran with it, literally. Kaepernick can make plays on the ground as well as Robert Griffin III but shows a veteran's composure in the pocket. He is young, extremely athletic and has played well at times since taking over as the starting quarterback.
The only problem is that Kaepernick needs another season to prove his worth. Michael Vick stepped up in 2010 for the Eagles and appeared to be the next great Philly quarterback, but his Week 17 start this season will most likely be his last. Smith was able to convert years of mediocrity into cheers and support, with just one solid season.
Fans and coaches are high on Kaepernick, but he has only had part of one season to show how he can play. The 2013 season will be very important for San Francisco to see what exactly they have in No. 7. He appears to be the real deal and a franchise quarterback, but so did Smith before he went down this season.
One more season of brilliance will be enough for fans to get really excited. One more season of brilliance will put Kaepernick in position to be the franchise quarterback, and he should be able to produce for the 49ers.
However, he will need the 2013 season to prove what he can do week in and week out before fans can anoint him.