Many realists, myself included, thought they were going into the year with a “stop-gap” quarterback (Alex Smith). Someone who could take the burden off of a young rookie (Colin Kaepernick) as he learned the ropes.
I just knew Colin Kaepernick would be in by the bye week. And, although I hate being wrong, it doesn’t change the fact that I was. Mostly.
Here is where I attempt my redemption, or at least partial justification—also known as the harsh reality (that leads to angry tweets and emails), as I see it.
If Kaepernick had the same knowledge of the playbook, and learned to protect the ball as well as Alex Smith, it would be hard not to let him take over.
It’s pretty obvious Kaepernick is the more athletic quarterback with a superior arm. Also, Smith is still wildly inaccurate at times, and has no long ball to speak of.
Yet, here is Smith with one of the top QB ratings in the league. He even threw the game-winning touchdown against Detroit in the final minutes.
Smith’s play has definitely not clarified much. His jolting emergence has really just confused everyone. It’s still early, a lot is still undecided about Smith and Kaepernick.
But, just as Harbaugh was right about retaining Smith’s services for another year, I imagine he was right about trading up and drafting Kaepernick.
You can doubt my reasons, as a lot of you have in regards to Kaepernick, but Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke have been dead on with their decisions and draft picks thus far.
Look at Aldon Smith, Bruce Miller, Chris Culliver and Kendall Hunter. Those rookie 49ers have been outstanding already. There is no reason to think Kaepernick wasn’t a great pick as well.
Look at how Harbaugh’s way has delivered so far. Like it or not, Kaepernick is as much of Harbaugh’s way as Smith is. Probably even more so since he drafted him.
During the lockout, I had a chance to interview Kaepernick. I learned that he is a very dedicated and mature young athlete.
His focus stood out to me more than anything. It felt like he already knew what being a NFL quarterback was all about, on and off the field. He seemed to know what he wanted to do, and how he was going to do it.
So let’s pull Smith.
I’m only kidding. He is playing great and deserves to stay in.
If Smith keeps playing this well, I can see him playing two or three more years with the 49ers, possibly more. But I am not sure he will be starting for all of those years. Odds are, Kaepernick will get his shot sometime soon. And I think that when he does, he will seize his opportunity.
Quarterbacks in this league get injured constantly, particularly Alex Smith. This is football. Smith will most likely have some minor injury at some point, and a hungry young Kaepernick will have a chance to show us his ability sooner rather than later.
As a 49ers fan, I am glad that Smith is playing well. And I love comeback stories.
I am equally excited about the talented rookie, stalking in the shadows, ready to carpe diam, 49ers style.
I believe that with Harbaugh as coach, and Smith or Kaepernick at QB, the 49ers have a chance to do well for a long time to come.
And in other news: The bye week is over and Cleveland has no chance. Down with the Browns!
This article was originally published in the Benicia Herald.
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