Everyone will have an opinion on the quality of the 49ers play-calling and the direction the club is taking in the Jim Harbaugh era … after Saturday’s NFC playoff game against the Packers. Then, it’ll be easy to spit out results-based opinion. So, let’s agree on a few things right now.

  • Colin Kaepernick is the best quarterback for these 49ers. Harbaugh had this game in mind when he replaced Alex Smith with Kaepernick. Kaepernick earned the No. 1 job for what he can do that Smith can’t do, e.g., scrambling for big gains after eluding the pass rush. Kaepernick plays to a different standard than Smith did. Kaepernick isn’t out there to avoid making mistakes. He’ll throw the ball down the field. He’ll, side step the pass rush, and run for a first down rather than dumping the ball off for a 2-yard gain. No matter how Kaepernick performs against the Packers, the 49ers have the right guy at quarterback.


  • Offensive coordinator Greg Roman does a good job calling plays. Fans mimic media types who respond to losses by explaining in cliches that Roman isn’t a good play-caller. That’s ridiculous. When the 49ers were rolling to, we all thought, a Super Bowl title at mid-season … we loved Roman’s willingness to run a reverse or to stick with the ground game when we were screaming, “Throw to Randy Moss!” Let’s agree right now that if a play doesn’t work, it was a bad play call. If the play works, it was a good play call. We don’t need to wait to see who wins on Saturday to judge Roman. His play-calling got the 49ers here. And, heck, if the offensive line blows the Packers’ front seven away for four quarters in a win, we’d be praising the genius of Roman if Frank Gore got 50 carries for 170 yardsand 3 touchdowns.


  • It doesn’t really matter whether David Akers or Billy Cundiff kicks field goals Saturday. Either one is equally capable of making a game-winning field goal or missing a chip shot in the second quarter. The game, under no circumstance, will hinge on the decision to use Akers or Cundiff. If it comes down to a missed field goal … blame the offense for not getting a first down to begin with.


  • The 49ers have a stout defense, but play down the stretch indicates it’s a good defense … not a great defense. So, it’s foolish to head toward Saturday expecting the bunch to shut down Aaron Rodgers.


  • The 49ers are planning to throw passes to Vernon Davis so he can score touchdown after touchdown. Honest. The game plan includes passes to Davis. The Packers know that, though, and they’ll make it really hard for Kaepernick to pass to Davis. So, if Davis gets blanked, credit the Packers’ defense. OK, nobody can stop you from complaining that Roman didn’t plan to throw to Davis or that Kaepernick just wouldn’t do it.


  • The Packers have as much impact on the outcome of the game as do the 49ers. So, while Niners’ fans are only thinking about what their guys have to do … we need to acknowledge that the 49ers might play well and just get outplayed by the Packers. We need to remember, there are two teams on the field.

Finally, Saturday’s game isn’t some benchmark by which we can judge Harbaugh and the progress of the 49ers’ organization. Lots of people are saying the 49ers have to win this week to keep Harbaugh’s program on track, that a loss would be a near fatal failure. That’s absurd! Harbaugh turned a terrible team into an NFC Championship finalist in 2012 and has the club right back in the thick of the Super Bowl tournament this season. The 49ers are in good hands and in great shape, no matter the outcome on Saturday.


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  1. Robert

    This is what I think, the NFC West is not getting easier, It’s actually getting harder. The niners best chance to win the Super Bowl was last year, sadly some mistakes by the special team ruined it. This year still looks good (not as good as last year). If the niners do not win the Superbowl this year it will only be tougher next year! I’m not saying that they can’t win it next year or the year after that, I’m just saying based on how teams are developing its going to get tougher to win it. Alex Smith to me brought the perfect balance in the team, everyone was getting involve somehow, but with CK at QB some players are hurting Davis, Gore’s average yard per carry is lower. Ofcourse there is the players who have benefit from the change, mainly Crabtree. Base on what I have seen from the team with both QB I like alex smith more. We’ll see what happens this week and whether CK can come thru.

    January 9th, 2013 5:53 pm

  2. BillWilliamkill

    After going through my notes on percentages, past performances and newly acquired data, this will be a med/high scoring game. Niners low 40′s, GB mid 20′s. Maybe 45 to 24. It all points towards a breakthrough performance by CK. He’s due. I know, he’s young, etc., etc. But this guy is a freak, always has been. Nothing upsets the guy.

    January 9th, 2013 6:43 pm

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    Bill…Thanks for reading. Percentages, data? Do tell! Curious about the data you put together to get a score. And … what leads you to the conclusion that Kaepernick gets less bothered than any other NFL QB? Let us know. TED

    January 9th, 2013 9:47 pm

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    Robert….Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Let’s agree to decide in advance that … the team that plays best wins Sunday and that we won’t spend Sunday night finding someone to blame if the 49ers don’t play as well as fans hope. TED

    January 9th, 2013 9:48 pm

  5. Bob G

    Good post, Ted.

    My prediction…

    Justin Smith plays but is ineffective due to his triceps injury, thus the 49ers are unable to get a consistent pass-rush going against the Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers because Smith is unable to occupy two lineman while the likes of Aldon Smith race nearly untouched into the backfield.

    This leaves the 49ers vulnerable against a great Packers passing-attack and the team is unable to win a shootout with a Packers squad far more built for a high-scoring game than they are.

    By the way, it will be no one’s fault on the 49ers.

    The play-calling will be fine, the effort will be there, and the Niners will play well. The Packers simply will have the Hall of Fame quarterback on their side…

    January 10th, 2013 12:28 am

  6. Robert

    Ted…..As a 49ers fan since 2003 it’s my duty to start blaming players, officials, coaches, etc if they don’t win. It’s something every fan must do to make themselves feel better about the team. What I am more interested in, is how many articles we are going to see about Alex Smith vs CK is they don’t win. Until then, lets hope it’s a good game.

    January 10th, 2013 12:31 am

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    Robert…Hey! We can do it together! Root for the home team. Acknowledge that the other team tries to counter what the 49ers want to do … and sometimes just win because they were better on a given day. I think you’re a knowledgable enough fan to know exactly what’s coming Monday if the 49ers lose and Kaepernick’s fingerprints are on the loss in any way … and it’ll be unfair to Kaepernick and Alex Smith because it’s a team game where the QB gets too much blame and too much credit, right? Thanks for sharing your thoughts. TED

    January 10th, 2013 3:44 am

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    Bob…You should spend the moments before the game tossing a Nerf football and making sure your son keeps his eyes literally on the ball … but, when you do focus on the contest, you’ll have the right approach. The Packers will show up and … they might just win. We tend to think that when things go wrong, our team just lost. TED

    January 10th, 2013 3:45 am

  9. Matt

    If Justin Smith is able to be effective despite his injury, then it will be a good game. If not, watch for a rout. Kaep is a better QB than Smith, but everyone will blame him if we lose, especially the Alex Smtih Appreciation Society. As for play-calling, get him out of the Pistol. It’s too predicatable. Why? Because we still don’t have a deep threat at WR. Moss is negligible at best, and with Kyle Williams and Mario Manningham both hurt, there are no other options. Davis is routinely being taken out by opposing defenses. That’s not Keap’s fault, though thanks to Davis’s comments in the media, refer to above statement about ASAS. My overall assessment: we may win this game, but the rest of the playoffs will be a tough proposition with an injured JS. If we beat the Pack and Seattle beats Atlanta, we may be in for the most disenheartening finish since last year’s meltdown against NY. They seem hungrier than we are and right now the Seahawks are firing on all cylinders. If only RGIII had been healthy. Top need in the draft; a speedburner at WR, so we can finally let Kaep open it up.

    January 10th, 2013 8:44 am

  10. dharte

    Interesting article at si.com that disagrees with you and emphasizes the points that many of us have been arguing since Harbaugh went rogue in his own unique way…


    Saturday is the test. We’re all tired of the argument, though if Harbaugh is wrong (and another game against the Packers this year, and this time at Candlestick, is one hell of a comparison for Smith/Kaepernick), the SI article will be the beginning of lots of crow for Harbaugh, Baalke, and all the Alex Smith haters in the area. Smith himself will have too much class to say a word. But the league will know who blew this call, and don’t think that doesn’t keep the boy genius up at night.

    Should be quite a game.

    January 10th, 2013 10:39 am

  11. Steve

    “Harbaugh turned a terrible team into an NFC Championship finalist”
    I disagree with much in this article but this is a flat-out lie, something I would expect Harbaugh’s agent to say. The 49ers had above-average talent when Harbaugh took over, but they were poorly coached.

    January 10th, 2013 12:40 pm

  12. swiller

    I’m in the minority and only guy that thinks this, but Alex deserves and should be the starting QB this year. Colin is more talented and should probably start next year but his inexperience will cause mistakes that may cost this season in the playoffs.

    This is a team built to go all the way this year, they should have the veteran QB to go with it. The defense and OL with Frank Gore will win the game. Alex Smith knows not to blow that. Colin will rise or burn down the 49ers like a PHOENIX.
    It’s a catalyst and a risk the team does not really need.

    January 10th, 2013 5:40 pm

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    Jason…Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Jim Harbaugh gets paid to make tough decisions and he made a really bold, difficult decision by changing QBs to go with the guy he thinks gives him the best chance. I don’t think Harbaugh believes Alex Smith gave them their best chance to win this year…but, the media and fans who like Smith seem to think they know more than Harbaugh does. We’ll find out … but, like I wrote, I think Kaepernick is the guy Harbaugh trusts and I tend to trust Harbaugh. TED

    January 10th, 2013 8:13 pm

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    Steve…Thanks for reading. The 49ers were terrible for years…just terrible. You don’t agree with my opinion, that doesn’t make me a liar. Ted

    January 10th, 2013 8:14 pm

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    D…Thanks for reading. Heaven forbid SI disagrees with me! Harbaugh couldn’t care less what SI thinks…or you think…or I think. And, he’s hardly a “boy genius.” Should be a good game. You’ve positioned yourself to blame the right people if the 49ers and celebrate wildly if they win! Ted

    January 10th, 2013 8:15 pm

  16. overtime

    Matt…Thanks. I just hope fans make some effort to keep in mind that there are 4 good teams alive in the NFC and that 2 will lose this week … and one will lose next weekend. The 3 teams that do lose won’t be unmitigated failures and … if the Packers or some team plays an incredible game and beats the Niners, it shouldn’t be that disheartening. Two good teams play…only one can win. TED

    January 10th, 2013 8:17 pm

  17. swiller

    Hi Ted –
    I imagine being a sports analyst you don’t trust every coaches choice because they will ALWAYS know more then us. Sports make experts wrong and look foolish on a daily basis, guess that what makes it so interesting.

    You asked for judgements, so we see who is right come Saturday. ;-) As far media and fans on the Alex Smith side. I don’t see it? I believe they are on the Kap bandwagon with you and Harbaugh. Cheers

    January 11th, 2013 5:13 pm

  18. swiller

    One other comment on your observation of the 49ers plans for Vernon Davis. Kap and Davis have showed no signs of chemistry. In fact, Davis (and maybe Gore) is probably the only guy still secretly wanting Smith under center.

    It seems more likely to be Kap and Crabtree’s big coming out party to the country, if the Niners win on Saturday.

    January 11th, 2013 5:32 pm

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    Swiller…Actually, I like Alex Smith as a person and felt like he got shafted. I was happy with how he was playing and think the club would be winning with him right now. I think Harbaugh knows more about what HE wants from his quarterback than I do. So … Kaepernick’s escape-ability and willingness to throw down the field must be what Harbaugh’s looking for … to make the whole offense work better. If it was just me picking a QB … I’d have gone back to Smith after he was healthy. It’s a bold move by Harbaugh to go with Kaepernick … but, he made it … I trusted all the decisions Harbaugh made to the point he switched QBs. So, I’m willing to trust him on this one. Ted

    January 11th, 2013 5:48 pm

  20. overtime

    Swill…Hey…chemistry? It really improves if the secondary breaks down, blows a coverage and Vernon Davis gets open. I don’t think chemistry has anything to do with a QB throwing to an open receiver … chemistry is one of those things I just don’t buy into. It’s intangible and when you can’t find a reason to argue that, obviously, the 49ers plan to throw to Vernon Davis … you come up with bad chemistry. What does chemistry look like? I suggest it looks like Davis beating the defense and Kaepernick throwing it to him. … Note: Whatever you think you know is something the Packers have spent 24/7 planning to stop for the last week sooooo … if you were the Packers, which 49ers’ receiver would you make absolutely SURE doesn’t beat you? Crabtree! Like I’ve written … there will be two teams on the field and it takes more than one team just doing what we expect for the team to win. TED

    January 11th, 2013 10:17 pm

  21. swiller

    We are closer in opinion then you think. Kap is very dynamic, talented player that is fun to watch. Has the strongest arm of any 49er QB I ever saw. Their is definitely a part of me that feels bad for Smith too. My point is his inexperience and mistakes have, for the most part, been overcome in the regular season. I believe it can cost them in the playoffs. Smith has proven in the last 2 years he can play low mistake football. The Niners are good enough with that type of QB. The game reminds me of last years home game against the Saints. Going against a high powered pass offense but not at Niners level in other areas. Harbaugh has been great for the Niners, but this decesion my bite him. Why risk it?

    Chemistry, to me, has to do with timing, and knowing what each other is going to do. Learning to catch a very different throwing style and not over anticipating your throw. This can be overcome with practice. Rice and Young have proven that. Thus far, Davis and Kap have not shown any chemistry. All you need to do is look at the stats.

    January 12th, 2013 9:59 am

  22. BillWilliamkill

    Hey Ted-
    Yeah my data I keep under lock and key. Any day it could blow up in my face. The odds makers in Vegas, etc, don’t want that.
    Kap is unfazed for several reasons but one, he lived in Turlock and two, he went to Reno. It’s humility and faith he has. Not ego. And, he was born to be a footballer.
    Here we go with the Falcons: Niners 31, Falcoons 14. Over a 15pt spread. JH won’t rub it in but if Kap sees his idol RM all alone I could be 38 to 14.
    Off to the bank I go.
    Go niners and thanks Ted!

    January 14th, 2013 7:58 am

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    BWK…I’ve not seen kissing of the bicep of any expression of faith in my religious experience, but I’ve only gone to a couple of churches. … I’ll bet the 49ers, uh, er, I would bet if it were legal in California. That could be a good final as well as O/U. TED

    January 14th, 2013 8:39 pm

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