San Francisco 49ers: Should Jim Harbaugh Start Colin Kaepernick Over Alex Smith?
When asked who his starting quarterback is going to be at a press conference after the Bears game, Jim Harbaugh stated that he wasn’t sure: “We’ll see. Usually tend to go with the guy who's got the hot hand, and we've got two quarterbacks that have got a hot hand."
While Harbaugh may see this QB situation as a win-win since he clearly is confident in both of his top quarterbacks, Smith must be a bit stunned by his coach’s answer. It was Harbaugh who was so willing to believe in him before last season when he seemed to be a bust as a former No. 1 overall pick, and that belief paid off for Harbaugh tremendously.
Smith went from having a 14 TD, 10 INT season in 2010 to a 17 TD, 5 INT season in 2011, and he has improved his numbers even more this year by going from No. 22 in the NFL in QBR last season to No. 9. Not only that, but he has already thrown 13 touchdown passes and has a career-high completion rate of 70.0 percent.
Further, when you look at the way the 49ers are built with such a dynamic running game and stalwart defense, it seems like Smith is the perfect QB for them to have since he is such a terrific game manager. He rarely turns the ball over and always seems to complete clutch throws when his team needs them.
Currently, the 49ers are 7-2-1 and trying to lock up the NFC West over the 6-4 Seahawks, who have quite a solid defense and running game themselves, so it seems like it would make sense to keep the same man at quarterback who helped the team reach the NFC Championship Game last year.
Kaepernick has more potential than the eight-year pro, but whether or not he will become a star will be determined in the next few years. Giving him Smith’s job now after just a single game of starting experience would be a huge risk because the players’ confidence in their coach would be greatly reduced, if not crushed, if Harbaugh were to go back to Smith if the experiment with Kaepernick did not pan out.
There are Super Bowl expectations this year for San Francisco, so this is a dangerous time to be making significant changes to a team that has been one of the NFL's best the past two years. However, Harbaugh has proven to be more than competent when it comes to coaching in the NFL, so it’s hard not to trust him to make the right decision.