You can’t rush to judgement on an NFL backup quarterback after just seeing one complete start, just ask the Seattle Seahawks, who are $26 million lighter in the wallet after signing former Green Bay Packers backup QB Matt Flynn following his singular outstanding performance in a meaningless game.
The football world–media, fans, and even San Francisco 49ers coaches–need to just sit back, and let this Colin Kaepernick situation breathe for a while.
Yes, Colin Kaepernick had a great game against the Chicago Bears. He looked like a seasoned veteran against one of the best defenses in the NFL. But this was a Bears team that was missing arguably their most important player, quarterback Jay Cutler. Even though Cutler plays on the offensive side of the ball, his absence always seems to have a snowball derogatory effect on the entire team.
Kapernick also was the beneficiary of some unbelievable play from his offensive line. With the exception of a couple of plays where he misread the coverage and was sacked, the Bears’ defensive line barely came within arms length of him. I’d say it’s a fair bet that Alex Smith would have performed just as well with the protection that was given by the Niners’ offensive line against Chicago.
49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh doesn’t need to create a quarterback controversy where there isn’t one, and unfortunately that’s exactly what he did in the post-game press conference. When pressed for answers on who the starting quarterback would be moving forward, instead of giving an ambiguous question-dodging answer (which coaches usually excel at), Harbaugh opted to waffle and shuffle behind the microphone:
“We’ll see. I 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. So, thought Colin did an outstanding job. Thought he did a great job. Poise in the pocket, pushing the ball and throwing with accuracy. Did a nice job running the game plan. Everything he did was exemplar, again. And really acquitted himself great. And very proud of him for that.”
Wow, really Jim? So all this mentoring that you’ve been purporting to do with Alex Smith, the accolades, the shoulder pad thumping, the propping him up as a guy who never got a fair shot…this is where it stands now?
Alex Smith is–and should remain–the San Francisco starting quarterback. He’s played as well as anyone could, and done it with the entire football world doubting him every week. There is absolutely no reason he should be replaced in the 49ers lineup unless he’s physically unable to get out on the field and play.
Colin Kaepernick may very well be the next Tom Brady or Kurt Warner…but then again, he could also be Matt Flynn or Kevin Kolb. Only time will tell, and Kaepernick hasn’t had enough time or enough snaps for anyone to make that determination. One game against a team that wasn’t at full strength is nowhere near enough information on which to base a decision.