Stop me if you heard this before. Anyhow, the switch has been made, the die is cast, the team has moved on, and only an injury would put Young Sir Alex back on the field for the San Francisco 49ers. Arguing the merits of the switch, or the hose-job that Alex recieved from Jim Harbaugh, the guy that pulled his career from the depths of mediocrity, is certainly blogg fodder for the down time between games, or it is a signal to everyone on the team that Harbaugh will say or do anything as the cost of his integrity and his word to get his way.
Certainly I think this went down differently in the locker room rather than how is was presented to the media. I obviously don’t know any better, but I’d have to think Harbaugh sat Smith down and told him, “Look, I’m going with Kappy, the guy I specifically brought in to run this team, rather than go back to you. I think the team will be better for it. I know it sucks for you, Alex, but it’s my call and I’m making it. Would I have made the switch if you hadn’t gotten hurt? hard to say, probably not, but that’s how it is.”
Alex Smith certainly has gotten a raw deal from the 49ers. From the offensively challenged years of Nolan/Hostler to the shoulder injury to the backstabbing by Nolan to the lost years, and then the fun of Mike Singletary and his revolving quarterback system to the seemingly glory days of finally getting a coaching staff that understood something about running an offense. 2012 was supposed to be the crowning achievement of Alex Smith’s career. Coming a botched punt from reaching the Super Bowl after winning one of the most excitiing playoff games in history, he was set to lay waste to the NFL landscape on his way to the Super Bowl. And he had done that, for the most part this season. Big early road wins over the Packers and AZ, and tough wins over Deetroit and Seattle among others, Smith was 6-2 when he went down with the concussion vs the Rams.
Truth is, Smith did nothing to lose the job. And that’s what the kicker is around this. Kappy certainly is playing within percentage points of Smith regarding ratings and such (104.3 Smith, 101.3 Kappy QBR / 79.5 Kappy, 70.1 Smith in Total QBR), and he brings a much bigger threat as a scrambler on proken plays. He appears to do a better job of extending plays, and buying time to find open guys. Turnovers? Well, that’s an issue. Kappy has fumbled much more than tiny hands Smith, and while the weather can be looked at as a problem in NE, Brady didn’t fumble shit while Kappy had major problems in the 1st half. To the tune of 4 botched exchanges. None led to turnovers, but one killed a 4th and one on NE’s 24 yard line. Those problems were fixed by Kappy and Goodwin making adjustments at the half. Some sort of hand adjustments that seemed to remedy the problems. Willthis be true going forward? We’ll see. But let’s hope they work this out, because the weather could be very similar in Seattle as it was in NE.
In his few games, Kappy’s made a few bad throws. The pick to Moss in the end zone, he failed to pick up the underneath safety closing from the left side as he rolled right before he threw. And the pick in the NO game, eh rushed a throw from a bad snap, and didn’t see the underneath safety again close on the play and make the pick on the left sideline. Other than that, he has brought a more dynamic feel to the QB position, although the numbers couldn’t be much more even at this point.
So, why the switch? Obviously it is because of the playoffs. Harbaugh must feel that while Alex can win in the regular season, he feels Kaepernick gives them a better shot in the playoffs. Certainly the Giants game this year didn’t help Smith’s cause. He threw 3 picks and no TDs, but a lot of the problems in that game point directly to Harbaugh and his musical QB scenario that killed a bunch of early drives. The Minn game was another shit game, but that was a bad defensive game and the Niners totally abandoned the run game after a slow start on offense. 24 for 35 and 204 isn’t bad, but the run game was non-existent and the defense was bad that day.
Kappy’s big wins against quality opponents certainly make the decision look good so far. Going forward? We’ll see. There are those who say that the season is a failure if the Niners don’t reach the Super Bowl, and while there is a certain glimmer of truth to that, in reality it’s horseshit. Every season is different. There are personnel changes, injuries, different opponents, and a thousend different variables to consider from one season to the next.
Harbaugh certainly bears the brunt of the fallout for the decision should the Niners not reach the promised land, but I don’t think he gives a shit. He’s still the golden child of the bay area, and the archtect of 2 playoff season in 2 years for the 49ers, and he brought the aura of excitement around the team just when they needed it for their new stadium opening in 2014.