One of the toughest decisions a coach has to make is replacing the starting quarterback with his backup. But this is the situation that faced 49ers head coach, Jim Harbaugh earlier in the year, when Alex Smith suffered an injury. Second year player, Colin Kaepernick got the call, and both him and the team haven’t looked back since.
It must have been a tough pill to swallow for Smith, who, up to the time of his injury was playing really good football, and was clearly the main man in San Francisco. But all credit must go to Kaepernick, who grabbed his opportunity with both hands and has led the 49ers to a Super Bowl matchup against the Baltimore Ravens – a game they have every chance of winning. Harbaugh clearly felt he had no choice but to keep Smith on the bench, even when he had fully recovered from his injury. How could he drop Kaepernick, given the way he was playing?
But there are some people who believe that the 49ers have to win the Super Bowl for Kaepernicks’ play to have meant anything. I am sure many will begin questioning Harbaugh’s decision to go with Kaepernick if the 49ers fail to win the big game next week.
Hindsight is usually a wonderful thing, but I for one will not be one of those voices second guessing the decision. If Kaepernick had played badly he would have been replaced by Smith as soon he was back to full fitness. But the fact remains – Kaepernick has led the team to victory and has played better than anyone could have imagined. He deserves to be the starting quarterback and deserves to get his chance to win the Super Bowl.
To his credit, Alex Smith has handled the situation professionally, and recently said:
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a little bitters
weet–yeah, I want to be out there.”
“But at the same time, it’s a team sport and these are all my teammates. You go through so much together, especially a lot of these guys that have been here for a chunk of time now.
“If you can’t be happy for them then there’s something wrong with you, you know. For sure–if you’re asking me if I want to be out there. But I mean, that’s secondary to this.”
It must be difficult to sit there and realise that the only reason you are not playing in the Super Bowl is that you got injured. Something that was beyond your control has seen you lose your starting job and left you watching another man lead the team into battle. But that’s football, and once again, all credit must go to Colin Kaepernick. He was given the chance and he took it.
If the 49ers beat the Ravens, then there’s no way Kaepernick loses the starting job for next year. But I would hope he continues in the same role regardless of the outcome of the Super Bowl. In the few NFL games he has started, he has shown enough to convince me that he is the real deal. He can run the ball as well as any QB in the league, and although a little rough at times, he has a strong arm and plays well under pressure.
So, what do you think? Whether they win or lose in the Super Bowl, keeping Kaepernick as the starting quarterback was the correct decision. Right?