The 49ers won’t be changing quarterbacks again any time soon, nor should they. Fans, thus,¬†should simply hope that an offense that has averaged 15 points the last two games is just slumping, as opposed to trending wildly downward.

Colin Kaepernick was fine at quarterback. He offset mistakes with big plays. The idea of returning to Alex Smith is nonsensical. The last thing the club needs after Kaepernick has settled in for three games is to put the pressure to move the team on the shoulders of Smith while he’s also carrying the burden of trying to keep his job from one play to the next. NFL quarterbacks have enough trouble without playing while looking over their shoulders. Jim Harbaugh made his decision and it was bold.

Moving on.

This 49ers’ team has been good, but not great. The defensive unit is outstanding, but it can’t win a championship by itself. Take away the 14 points the defense accounted for against the Saints and the 49ers would’ve lost. The defense held the Rams to 5 points in regulation — and San Francisco lost on Sunday. The defense can’t do more than it has been doing.

The offense took a hit losing running back Kendall Hunter. That’s not the type loss that should suddenly put the 49ers just two games up on the Seahawks in the division with games against the Seahawks and Patriots still highlighting the schedule. The mistakes — penalties, dropped passes, etc. — are slowing the 49ers and there’s no simple fix.

Fans have knee-jerked, naturally, to scream that the play-calling was too conservative … or not conservative enough … in the loss to the Rams. Every play called is designed to succeed, obviously. Penalties and physical mistakes kill even the best play call. (Kaepernick made two mistakes Sunday, but he also ran for 50 yards to get the 49ers in position for what should’ve been a game-winning field goal. A physical mistake, missed kick, cost the 49ers.)

If the 49ers’ offense just hit a rough patch, they’ll hold off the Seahawks and roll into the playoffs with a quarterback who does have the physical ability to break games open. If the offense is, inexplicably, going downhill … the 49ers are in big trouble. This is no time in the NFL season to be trying to fix big problems on offense or defense.

And, heaven knows, if it’s not broke … don’t fix it.


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  1. Erik

    The defense gave up 5 points in regulation

    December 3rd, 2012 5:28 pm

  2. Matt Witthaus

    Kaep played well overall. He made a critical mistake in the fourth quarter by not staying in bounds and keeping the clock moving, forcing the Rams to use their timeouts. The pitch was the most worthless call of the day. Harbaugh needed to overrule that call. Too many things can go wrong on that play and down in that part of the field, everything spells disaster. Walker dropped a HUGE pass that would have put them up 17-10 and, IMO, broke their back. But drops and stupid penalties and overall worthless play by the offensive line, giving Kaep little room to step and putting him on the run every snap, made everything chaotic and we could never find a rhythm.

    Keap likes to look downfield, always. I think a critical part of his development will be to take those checkdowns, if that’s what the defense is giving you. Regardless of running for his life all day, he stayed very poised. He kept looking deep and the game plan of the Rams was to take those routes away. I won’t harp on conservative or non-conservative. What the offense wasn’t on Sunday was innovative. Roman and Harbaugh need to work with their adjustments a little better.

    December 3rd, 2012 6:16 pm

  3. overtime

    Erik…Sure did. Thanks for catching my mistake. Ted

    December 3rd, 2012 8:05 pm

  4. overtime

    Matt…The pitch was worthless the minute the ball got thrown where Ginn couldn’t catch it. If Ginn had caught a clean, accurate pitch and been out there in space with his speed…you might well be praising it as a great call. An option pitch to the fastest guy on the field? Could’ve been magical … but it wasn’t. The play called for an accurate pitch, as Kaepernick noted. And…a ton of things can go wrong on every play…missed blocks, players slip, ball is mishandled, etc. Too much emphasis on griping about the play call because it’s a play that gave folks who want to criticize Kaepernick reason to criticize him.

    Yes, indeed, the 49ers need to check down more on pass plays. Hey, wait a minute … didn’t Alex Smith get ripped consistently for not throwing down the field and for throwing the check down type passes? And, now, if only Kaepernick would check down more he’d be better. As always Matt…interesting thoughts. Thanks.

    December 3rd, 2012 8:09 pm

  5. B. Brown

    I understand a QB’s job is to execute the plays called…Kaep did not. However, it’s not his burden to bare,,,IMHO…it’s Harbaugh. A coaches’ job is to make decisions that put his team in a position to win. the ball is on your own 10, the QB is starting his third NFL game, he’s not an option QB either, just not a play that should be on his laminated chart for that situation…bad call coach.

    December 3rd, 2012 10:54 pm

  6. overtime

    BB…It’s a shared burden. Fans can easily spot a QB’s mistakes. The average person doesn’t see the holding penalties that kill a drive, let alone a messed up pass route. The play call was fine…good pitch and Ginn, with a ton of speed, gets the ball on the edge where he can run. It wasn’t asking too much of an NFL QB to make that pitch. But, one play doesn’t lose many games, does it? TED

    December 4th, 2012 12:59 pm

  7. Matt

    Ted, thanks for the “gotcha”. As if I didn’t know that was coming.

    December 5th, 2012 8:04 am

  8. Matt

    One more thing: With all due respect, it’s pretty weak sauce to ignore that the pitch call was arguably the stupidest play call in the worst part of the field, at the worst possible time, in order to rip the kid for not making a perfect pitch. Just sayin’. And you and I both know that Utah ONLY throws the checkdowns. Looking downfield for him is as indecisive an exercise as reading the frikkin’ menu at Denny’s. But whatever. I enjoy your blog, and enjoy the give and take, but you’re cherry picking in order to call out Kaep for not being the instantaneous second coming of Montana, while Utah has to stretch on his best days just to echo Steve Buerlein. P.S. I saw EVERY holding call, even the ones against the Rams that went ignored, not to mention face masks and God knows what else. He had a good game. The coaches and his supporting cast failed him. But by all means, crucify him. I figure this will be the story of the season for Kaep. Again, WHATEVER.

    December 5th, 2012 12:51 pm

  9. dharte


    “And, heaven knows, if it’s not broke…don’t fix it.”

    O.K. Then what do you make of the “fix” of Kaepernick?

    That offense clicked for an All-Time 49er offensive record of 600 yards in a game earlier this season. Alex Smith was NFC Offensive Player of the Week, just a week before he got hurt.

    By your own logic, Harbaugh has botched the decision and the season. We’ll see. But if they don’t get far in the playoffs this year, it will be interesting to see if the media gives the boy genius a pass for his gamble.

    December 5th, 2012 4:01 pm

  10. overtime

    Dharte…Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts. My thought on the move to change QBs when the team was winning and the guy who was starting at QB was doing, by all accounts, well? If it’s not broke don’t fix it.

    Harbaugh’s made a pretty bold leadership decision to go with Kaepernick at QB. Fans, and many in the media, mistakenly think Harbaugh really had to grind out the decision and that he really does think Smith and Kaepernick are equally able to do for his team what he believes his QB needs to do. Harbaugh is, obviously, convinced that Kaepernick gives or will give the 49ers a considerable upgrade over Smith. Harbaugh knows everything we know about making major personnel changes at such an important position — and he took the risk, made the bold move and that indicates he clearly believes Kaepernick is a cut above (or will almost immediately become) a cut above Smith.

    An NFL coach who believes one of his quarterbacks is a clear cut above the other is going to stick with the guy he’s made clear in the last 3 weeks is THE quarterback. So, I wouldn’t have benched Smith … but, now that Harbaugh made the move to Kaepernick, it’s foolish to think he’s angst-riden and concerned about the decision. Harbaugh believes in Kaepernick. We’ll just have to watch it play out … Harbaugh’s not wringing his hands over the decision.


    December 5th, 2012 4:59 pm

  11. overtime

    Matt…I’ve seen Smith complete passes deeper down the field, so I won’t agree that ALL he does is throw checkdowns. I’m not an absolutist … particularly when being one is just the easiest way to try to make a point. Smith doesn’t ONLY complete checkdowns … the option pitch to Ginn wasn’t the “stupidest play call in the worst possible time, etc.” And, I didn’t “rip” Kaepernick for making a bad pitch. He just made a bad pitch. Stuff happens. He came back and got them in field goal position to win the game and the kick was missed.

    I didn’t call out Kaepernick. You’re reading into the piece that outlined clearly that it’s a really big picture…penalties, dropped passes…Gore being held to 24 yards rushing in the second half…Kaepernick’s 2 mistakes and more. I didn’t highlight the QB mistakes … I tried to point out to people who will harp on the QB thing that the team wins and loses.

    Ultimately … if something’s not broken … don’t fix it. You read that as some callback to the benching of Smith … but, I tacked it on in reference to people calling now for Smith’s return to the starting job. Kaepernick was fine … not the reason they lost the game. He’s the starter now. So, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. … you misunderstood.


    December 5th, 2012 5:09 pm

  12. overtime

    Matt…you misunderstood…see the other comment but…in short…Kaepernick got ripped by those who want Smith at QB. Kaepernick’s the starter now. He didn’t cost them the Rams game. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it … and Harbaugh’s sold on Kaepernick and won’t be knee-jerking to get Smith back in there because Kaepernick made a couple mistakes in a game where the team didn’t play well as a group. TED

    December 5th, 2012 5:11 pm

  13. Matt

    No, I do understand. I’ve seen Smith connect on deep passes. I’ve also seen speckled salamanders by the creek where I used to live, and they appear about as frequently as Smith’s deep throws. The ones that get completed, anyway. At any rate, I know you’re not calling out Kaep, but to me, it’s worth noting that it doesn’t behoove your rookie QB, that nearly half the fan base is calling to be benched, to put him in that situation. He did make a bad pitch. My point is, as the coach or the playcaller, you must consider that possibility before sending in the play. Harbaugh said he thought about overruling the play call, and says in hindsight, he should have. Your rookie QB’s are prone to making mistakes. In my book, you don’t call that play for that reason. Especially when every mistake that rookie makes is going to be overly scrutinized. All I’m saying.

    December 5th, 2012 5:23 pm

  14. overtime

    Matt…As coaches, they call the plays they believe will work and expect the players to perform. Why on earth would they worry about Colin Kaepernick pitching the ball out? They’ve determined he’s the No. 1 quarterback on a playoff-level NFL team. He knows what he signed on for. They know what they signed on for moving him to No. 1.

    They can’t then stop in a situation and think, “The fans want him benched … Smith is over there waiting … this is a tough situation to a put a guy in … we better hand it off up the middle to protect Kaepernick …”

    He’s the starting QB on an NFL team. If you have to protect him from making a pitchout — when he was running a read option and the pistol in college for years — he shouldn’t be the starting QB. He made a bad pitch. That’s all. They have complete confidence in Kaepernick or he wouldn’t be starting.

    December 5th, 2012 5:45 pm

  15. Matt

    Okay. I still say it’s a dumb play to call at that time, in that part of the field. Of course, if he makes a perfect pitch, it’s genius.

    December 6th, 2012 8:31 am

  16. Rich Salas

    yea..after last night, its pretty obvious Kap isnt ready for big games yet. He was AWEFUL. His throws are not WR friendly, and he was in a panic alot. when he panic’d and decided to not throw the ball to a wide open Moss in a WR screen kind of play, and just kind of half ran it to the LOS and slid….that showed me that Harbaugh has made a HUGE mistake in his quest to be thought of as a genius. Meanwhile we have a statistically elite QB whith playoff experience who we KNOW can perform on the biggest stages. I am beyong ticked after last night. defense cant keep gifting turn overs and short field positions to Kap to work with, and he isnt always going to be able to throw wobbly passes into brokem coverage like the Pats gave him the opportunity to do last weekend. We had a legit chance to win the SB this year with Smith, now we are just worried about winning the NFC West. Pathetic!!

    December 24th, 2012 8:56 am

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