Who Should the 49ers Start at Quarterback?

We have been hearing it all week - "Who will be the starting quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers?", "Alex Smith or Colin Kaepernick?", "Is there a quarterback controversy in San Francisco?", "SERIOUSLY, WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON WITH THE 49ers?" -- Okay, Maybe not that far, but still - that is the buzz around the league and the talk of the town on ESPN and NFL Network.  It sure is a nice problem to have for Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers: Two starting quarterbacks that are playing lights out and the one that just got "benched" due to medical issues took that team to the NFC Championship last year and was an overtime away from advancing to the Super Bowl. The solution to the biggest question in San Francisco is actually really easy to answer.

There is no quarterback controversy.  The Colin Kaepernick era has begun in Northern California.

Yes, there is an argument for both quarterbacks.  Really sound arguments for both Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick.

If you're an old school guy, like Trent Dilfer who is against the switch at QB, then your argument is: If it ain't broke don't fix it. Alex Smith is 20-5-1 in his last 26 games as a starter under Jim Harbaugh.  He completed 70% of his passes this year (leads the league), he's third in the NFL in passer rating, and led this team to the #2 seed in the NFC.  Smith knows the offense, doesn't make mistakes, and will rely on his running game and defense to stay in games and make plays when they are needed to be made (New Orleans).

With Alex Smith, the 49ers floor is higher, but the ceiling is also lower.  For Harbaugh to make this move he realized that the Alex Smith 49ers have reached that ceiling.  Could they win the Super Bowl with Alex as the QB?  Possibly.  But a lot would have to go right for that to happen.  Harbaugh also sees the New York Giants -- the 49ers Kryptonite - - looming for a potential rematch in the playoffs.

Now for the Kaepernick enthusiasts out there  -- Captain Kap of the Starship 49ers -- he's a playmaker that offers unreal athleticism that allows him to avoid sacks and run the ball, a gunslinger mentality to throw deep and take chances that Alex just doesn't take, and the two things that have surprised me the most: his unreal accuracy and knowledge of the offense.  Just a couple months ago, during the Preseason Kaepernick looked improved, but nowhere near where he is today.  Harbaugh may have resurrected the career of Alex Smith, but he also traded up in the 2nd round last year to take Kaepernick.  Never underestimate a handpicked player by a Head Coach.  This is his guy.  His floor is lower than Alex Smith's, but his ceiling is through the roof.  Will there be growing pains?  Most likely.  Does he offer the 49ers the best chance to win?  Yes.  Once again, the Giants are lurking out there, and Kaepernick brings a new dynamic to this offense that could lead this team past their biggest enemy.

In the NFC Championship game last year against the Giants most people remember Kyle Williams two fumbles, but they do not remember that the only offense the 49ers had was from Frank Gore and Vernon Davis.  The wide receivers caught one pass for three yards, and Alex did not play well.  In the back of Harbaugh's mind he knows that he needed more big plays out of this offense, and Kaepernick is a playmaker.

For as much as Alex Smith has resurrected his career as "The Phoenix" of the 49ers, he still has history against him.  Those first six years, with six different offensive coordinators, when San Francisco were the cellar dwellers of the NFC.  In the NFL, perception is reality and the perception is that Alex, for as good as he has become, just cannot overcome certain physical traits that limit him and that Kaepernick happens to possess.

Harbaugh said that he will announce his starter against the St. Louis Rams on Wednesday, he will come up with some kind of saying where they will have two starters because Alex Smith is still the starting QB, but Kaepernick is not a backup.  It takes a lot of, ahem, fortitude for Harbaugh to make such a drastic change, but he has all the confidence in the world with this quarterback, this coaching staff, and this team.  Behind the sayings, the smoke-and-mirrors, there is the future and present of the 49ers.  The Colin Kaepernick era.

- Lance Cartelli.

Back to the San Francisco 49ers Newsfeed