By TED SILLANPAA
Two things can be equally true, but 49ers fans seem to want to insist that isn’t the case. Thus, to say second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick isn’t ready to lead this 49ers team somehow winds up being twisted into a wild endorsement of Alex Smith.
The fact is that Kaepernick’s not nearly ready to quarterback an NFL team to the heights this 49ers’ team can reach. He put up some points against the Rams on Sunday, but for every play he made he made a mistake or an error in judgment. The 49ers can’t afford to find Kyle Williams left uncovered, literally, in the slot and not have the quarterback get him the ball as he runs all by himself down the field. Kaepernick didn’t see Williams in that situation on Sunday and, obviously, it cost an easy touchdown and a victory.
Kaepernick ran for a touchdown and made some plays with his mobility and speed. He also held the ball too long and ran into sacks that, more than anything, a team that chews up yardage in chunks like the 49ers can’t afford.
Kaepernick’s not ready and anyone who is even hinting that he should get snaps ahead of Smith doesn’t understand the 49ers or what they need right now from a quarterback. It is, though, understandably easy to call for Kaepernick to replace Smith because Smith still doesn’t make the flashy play very often and fans, especially 49ers’ fans, want the quarterback to be electric and making big plays all the time.
That reminds me, Joe Montana and Steve Young are not the benchmarks against which to measure Smith’s ability to win with the 2012 49ers. Bill Walsh built a dynasty. He did it in an amazing, exciting way that is different than how the current 49ers’ coaching staff (and front office) is trying to build a winning tradition. It would help us all if we put the Walsh era and those two Hall of Fame quarterbacks out of our minds when we think about this team at this time.
Jim Harbaugh knows his 49ers have a defense that can win a championship. He’s quite away that the offensive line and Frank Gore can put up points … if the quarterback hits open receivers more often than not and doesn’t take sacks trying to make a big play when simply avoiding a loss makes more sense.
There’s nothing appealing to me about a team that wins 17-14, 14-9, 20-10. It’s just not entertaining to me, but … those are scores that these 49ers can roll up to reach the Super Bowl. The defense is that good and the offense has proven that, typically, a mistake-free game will account for enough points to top the number the other team can manage against the Niners’ defense.
Kaepernick’s really raw. He’s got a great deal of athletic ability and he’s better than Smith was with an equivalent amount of experience in the NFL. It’s utter nonsense to call for Kaepernick to push Smith for snaps in a game, let alone to mull the thought of a brewing quarterback controversy. If you don’t go back and watch the game to see the mistakes and youthful errors in judgment, it’s easy to watch Kaepernick run around and throw it and say, “This guy’s way better than Smith!”
Jim Harbaugh’s plan is to be conservative, avoid mistakes and … just keep the ball moving and get points on the board, field goals if that’s all you can get. He’s willing to let this mind-blowing defense do the heavy lifting.