Nov 17, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) passes against the New Orleans Saints during the second quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Colin Kaepernick vs. Alex Smith: Did San Francisco choose right?


Last season Alex Smith started nine games for the San Francisco 49ers before suffering a concussion that would ultimately loose him his job to Colin Kaepernick. Jim Harbaugh made the switch to CK and the team ended up in the Super Bowl. This season, Smith is with the 9-1 Chiefs and Kaepernick has been struggling with the 6-4 49ers. Do Kaepernick’s struggles mean that Harbaugh made the wrong decision?

Kaepernick’s numbers aren’t horrible this year, but he certainly isn’t kissing his bicep nearly as much as you thought he would by now. He’s got 11 touchdowns, 7 picks, 1,802 passing yards, and 335 rushing yards. He’s also got four fumbles lost and has some of the worst 4th quarter stats in the league. Last year, Kaepernick proved himself to be an adequate passer with enough talent in his legs to more than compliment San Francisco’s running game. Heck, they were a few plays from a Super Bowl Championship largely due to the play of Kaepernick down the stretch.

What’s the difference this year? Is it all about the injury to Michael Crabtree? Well, if you ask the Atlanta Falcons, injuries to your #1 target can certainly punch a team in the gut. Are the 49ers that bad of a team this year that they can’t overcome missing Michael Crabtree in the beginning portion of the season? Granted, the 49ers are nowhere near in the position the Falcons are in record-wise but panic has been setting in since the team isn’t really a whole lot different looking but are underperforming so far in 2013. A good quarterback can make or break a team. By going to Kaepernick and releasing Alex Smith, the 49ers were saying that Kaepernick should be good enough to lead the team no matter who he has to throw to.

Perfect example of the difference a good quarterback makes over an inadequate one is the Kansas City Chiefs. They had a roster last year that was stacked with Pro Bowlers but were horrid at the quarterback position. Enter Alex Smith. While not the “light em up” quarterback like say, Peyton Manning or Drew Brees, Smith has proven to be a tremendous upgrade to the Chiefs’ offense this season and their record surely reflects that. He’s got some similar stats to Kaepernick with 11 touchdowns, four interceptions but 2,149 passing yards. His four interceptions are his only turnovers as well.

Last season no one wanted to admit that Alex Smith was anything more than a game manager. This season, Colin Kaepernick seems to be having some difficulties managing games, particularly in the fourth quarters. Does this mean the 49ers made a mistake and would be more successful with Smith under center right now? There’s a big drop off for players who peak so early in their career. Kaepernick went to the Super Bowl after starting only seven games in the NFL. That means he’s got very little room for a learning curve now.  Smith’s success in Kansas City wouldn’t necessarily have any bearing on determining if the 49ers made a mistake, but Kaepernick’s success sure does.

Tags: Alex Smith Colin Kaepernick Jim Harbaugh NFL San Francisco 49ers Tracking

  • 22deeboi

    i feel that people need to stop blaming Greg Roman for our offensive struggles. we have had the same coaching staff since 2011 and since then, with greg roman as our OC, we have made the playoffs. the blame needs to be put on colin now, he hasn’t shown much progress from last year and its quite maddening seeing him regress like this. I called it before the season started that the niners will either make the wildcard or miss the playoffs all together, and its looking more and more that we may not get in. reason why i thought this was i also predicted a sophomore slump for colin. told many of my buddies don’t crown the niners yet, cause the league finally has tape on colin and he wont be doing the same things he did last year. what do you know, my words have come to fruition. the niners have stayed away from the read option in fear of colin getting hurt, so colin has to do more damage in the pocket and he has shown so far that he is not comfortable there either.

    the blame is solely on colin now, no excuses

    • penlady

      This is the fault of the coaching staff and the management. Choosing Colin over Alex in the midst of a hyped press exposure and and very early ” success”. Saw it right from the beginning. Experience is valuable. It was not time for Alex to be out. The 49ers are a very talented team, and has enough of power players to win, yet they look average this year.

      Do not think Colin will be better next year either. I see Colin as just not such as smart QB. When fans say that Alex Smith was bad during the first few seasons, you have to account for the players he inherited as well. It took two years to wait for a Vernon Davis. Very different for KAEP. Kaep inherited a solid team, plus Boldin and Manningham. Clearly that is not a correct comparison.

      Kansas City has pathetic receivers and not enough talent in the offensive line, yet, they manage games very well. Granting you don’t have Crabtree and Manningham, KC does not have any Vernon Davis, nor do they have La Michael James. If it is the defense you are talking about, both teams have a very good defensive team.

      But well, 49ers need to get better, one way or another. I see changes coming up.

      • loverpoint

        The reason it was time for Smith to leave was because Kansas City made the 49ers an offer they couldn’t refuse.

        It is the 49ers Management and Coaching that is at fault. The 49ers did not bring in a good WR to take Crabtrees spot but instead kept Williams and Moore, the fans that watched Lavelle Hawkins play in preseason wanted him as WR/ KR instead the kept Williams who led the league in fair catching punts. The coaching has been over protective of Kaepernick and that goes back to training camp and preseason. With Smith on the team Kaepernick needed to fight for the starting job. With McCoy as Kaepernicks backup there is no competition for Kaepernick. I have been saying for some time now that the 49ers should have brought in Jeff Garcia as the #2 QB. The other problem with the 49er management is that they are to stubborn and set in their ways.

    • loverpoint

      Your argument is vague. Do you want to know the real reason why KC has a better record ? Well it has nothing to do with QB’s it has to do with Giveaway / Takeaway. Kansas City leads with +16 and the 49er have +6. K.C.’s defense has sacked the QB 36 times and the 49ers have 21 sacks. The 49ers defense although a top 10 defense has gone down hill.

      Alex Smith has been ALLOWED, ALLOWED, ALLOWED to throw the ball 360 times. Colin Kaepernick has been allowed to throw the ball 252 times. Yet both have 11 passing TD’s , Hate to tell all the 49er fans that take so much pride in their defense but the K.C, defense is outperforming the 49er defense. Was it Colin Kaepernicks fault that New Orleans had a 97 yard TD drive or that the 49er special teams allowed N.O. to return a kick 80+ yards once the 49ers had just went ahead. That kind of play allowed N.O. to get back in the game. If Alex Smith is doing so good at K.C. then why is he still having trouble converting 3rd downs? K.C. is worse than the 49ers in 3rd down conversions and that is bad. K.C.’s defense is better at preventing the opposition to convert 3rd downs than the 49ers.

      Kansas City leads the league in providing their offense field starting position. KC on average starts on their 33 yard line.

      Two facts that can be said about both Smith and Kaepernick: The Defense and Special Teams played better for Alex Smith both on SF and KC . This is because the coaches know that Smith is not that dominate of an offensive weapon so they step up. When Smith was on the 49ers in 2011 the 49er defense led the league in giveaway / takeaway, Ted Ginn won the 49ers first matchup with Seattle when he ran back a Kickoff and Punt return to save Alex Smith . David Aykers had the best season of his Career in 2011

      The defense and special teams in the time that Kaepernick has been the starting QB have gone down hill. Their play has gone down hill because they are to overly confident that Kaepernick will take the 49ers to the Super Bowl again on his shoulders.

      • Travis Crouch

        Turnover alone lets look at them Alex 4 kap 11right there its plus 7 and two reason Alex has better def he give them time to rest not turning the ball over third wrs two of the wrs Alex had for the last two years could not make the team in Ted gen and willaims and for all the plus around craptree he never could catch balls. And someing else that makes Alex better is he does not need to be the spotlight of the offence but when you need him to win the game Alex has won 7 games in the last drive compared to kaps one when pressure is on kap he folds and kap can only look at on wr he can not check 2 or 3wrs if numb ones not open and everone gets on Alex for check downs well thats better then a sack witch kap has took a lot more the Alex to hard to score when you 2 and15 all the time last thing I have to say is just 49ers rank the worst in the nfl for passing witch has not been ranked that low since harghball has been there

      • 22deeboi

        The real reason the kansas city chiefs are having such a better year from last year is the coaching staff and the qb. a lot of people never give the alex smith credit but its time. look at the time of possession when alex smith was quarterback the past couple years with sf and now kc. they were top 5 in those years, and when you win time of possession the defense is more fresh and more ready to go back out there. look at all the elite qb’s of today not one really has a defense that can control the game because of how quick their team score’s offense or if they fail to.

        now this is where the leadership part comes in, this year i have heard a lot more positive things from offensive to defensive players praising alex smith, than i ever have with colin. alex smith holds himself to a higher standard and continues to work hard. remember camp alex? yea that is called leadership to lead a group of men who were currently not getting paid and lead them in drills or anything. what did alex do this year? he studied the playbook and worked hard to get even a decent report with his receivers. you didn’t hear a lick from him. what did colin do? he practiced getting faster…he posed nude…he wore another football teams hat…he wears all this stuff at press conferences hiding his profile…he is acting more like a kid than a man/ leader. he isn’t ready