Contrary to what some in the media are saying, the San Francisco 49ers‘ quarterback controversy did not begin with yesterday’s loss to the St. Louis Rams. It has been slowly building for most of the season, and picked up steam a few weeks back when Colin Kaepernick replaced Alex Smith at quarterback against the Rams when Smith got knocked out with a concussion in the middle of the game. Then CK gamely led the 49ers to a tie and victories against the vaunted Chicago Bears defense and New Orleans Saints offense in subsequent weeks and made the controversy a full-blown reality.
That being said, however, the controversy has obviously taken on a different angle given yesterday’s result in St. Louis. For while CK’s stats were good, and he certainly did enough to ensure the 49ers could have won yesterday’s game, he was also almost completely responsible for their loss. CK’s errant pitch to Ted Ginn, Jr. on an end-around was recovered by the Rams and brought in for a touchdown, after which they converted a two-point play. Add to this the “safety” the Rams received when CK was called for intentional grounding in the end zone in the third quarter, and suddenly you see that CK gave the Rams 10 of their 13 points in regulation.
The question now becomes: Did Jim Harbaugh make the wrong decision in choosing to continue to start Kaepernick over Smith? No. Using Harbaugh’s own logic, they were going with the guy who had the hot hand, and while the 49ers did not blow up there Rams defense yesterday, they still did well enough to win the game in theory.
Don’t forget, even if we leave in Kapernick’s mistakes and don’t try to play the “well if he hadn’t done this or that then the 49ers would have won” game, David Akers still had a chance to win the game on the drive immediately preceding St. Louis’s game-winning field goal drive, but he missed. CK produced over 300 yards in total offense against the Rams and completed over 65% of his passes, so it’s not as though the Rams shut him down and rendered him useless.
Is there a controversy in San Francisco? Yes, of course there is. Will it continue? Undoubtedly it will continue for the rest of the season. Will that lead to Harbaugh starting Smith against the Miami Dolphins this week to help right the ship before the playoffs? Especially with the Seattle Seahawks suddenly breathing down San Francisco’s necks for the NFC West lead? It could. We’ll see what Harbaugh says this week.