Friday, November 30, 2012

Beware the WildKaep

The WildKaep will prowl the Edward Jones Dome as the San Francisco 49ers’ starting quarterback this Sunday.

Kaepernick, the current toast of the town and the ONLY reason why you hear about the 49ers on ESPN, will be given another shot to prove to everyone he has the coveted "hot hand."

It’s obvious that Harbaugh was tippy-toeing the Alex Smith vs. Colin Kaepernick high-wire act and attempting to quash any talk of a quarterback controversy.  (Interestingly enough, Steve Young replaced Joe Montana 25 years ago against the Bears.)  Though Smith would have dealt with the media in his nonchalant, ‘team first’ attitude, Coach Harbaugh would not bring shame upon his pal (and one-time caddy) like that.

To the blind eye, it seems like the 49ers coach is taking it on a week-to-week basis, giving each of his signal callers a fair shot.  For all intents and purposes, though, Harbaugh’s emptying out the backfield.

We all know the story: Kaepernick tames the Bears with Alex in concussion limbo, then beats a Saints defense that averaged 27.3 points allowed per game with a healthy Smith on the sidelines.

Coincidence?  I think not.

Jim Harbaugh’s skills as a tactician go well beyond the chalked sidelines.  He knows what he’s doing, despite fumbling language at press conferences and providing embarrassing fodder such as “Gobble Gobble Turkey from Jive Turkeys.”  Call me a conspiracy theorist, but this seems like an all-too-perfect swing for a young kid that the coach moved up for to draft in 2011.  He’s no fool.

Smith's emotionless role model
Despite all the media gushing over him, did anyone else notice that he was the first guy to get fired up about Ahmad Brooks’ pick six?  Yeah, you saw what I saw:  the interception return was the white-out over Kaepernick’s errant pass thrown to that same vaunted Saints defense.  While there’s nothing wrong with congratulating a teammate, Brooks’ pick six absolved the quarterback’s mistake.  He was noticeably dejected after the play and needs to channel his inner Smith, who shows all the emotion of an android when given face time, if he's going to make it as a starting quarterback.

Like any QB miscues, they can be easily swept under the rug of a vaunted defense.  (See: his predecessor, one Alex Smith and 49er great Trent Dilfer).  And that’s why I’m not as quick to anoint him.  I’ll be the first to admit that his stuff is electric and exciting.  No question about that.  It's something fans haven't seen for the better part of a decade and a half. To that point, I have to ask: How many young signal callers have ended up in the refuse bin after being elevated to a similar “game-changing” status after two starts?  I’ll wait…

Just two games removed from an 18 of 19 performance against another highly respected defense in the Arizona Cardinals, Smith has questionably been placed neatly in Kaepernick’s shadow.  Lest we forget he’s a man that endured the likes of Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary, dropping into deep valleys (abysses may be more pertinent), only to emerge victorious over the same Saints Kaepernick just dusted.  And, oh yeah, he was the man who almost led the team to a Super Bowl birth (I’ll just leave the heartbreak at that.  The wounds are still fresh in the casual 49ers fan’s mind.).

Holding all things constant, I would say that we have one good game and a relief appearance that ended in a tie to judge the young buck.  That isn't exactly the proving ground I picture when ushering in a new quarterback era.

Whatever the case may be, Harbaugh may have picked his horse (without picking him), and he'll have to live with it.

The turkeys are quiet, holding their collective breaths while they mull around the circus.


I feel sorry for Smith, but I don't disapprove Harbaugh's decision.

Hindsight is 20/20 and all i see is a big fat L, Harbaugh let his emotions make that choice...

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