The 49ers defeated the Chicago Bears 32-7 on Monday night and are now in the midst of a quarterback controversy. Colin Kaepernick had a great day with 243 passing yards to go two touchdowns and no interceptions thrown. When Jim Harbaugh was asked about Kaepernick being a future starter after the next game, he left things open.
“We’ll see [who starts in the future],” said Harbaugh. “I usually tend to go with the guy who has the hot hand. We got two quarterbacks who have a hot hand.”
Alex Smith has not been cleared by the doctors or neurologist to play and controversy won’t spark if he remains injured. If Smith shows any signs of setbacks or pain, Kaepernick will still be starting.
It’s only one game, but Kapernick looked like a veteran QB on Monday night against the Bears. Before he was forced into action against the Rams, Kaepernick was limited to a few select plays as a wildcat quarterback. He was used for running plays with occasional deep throw attempts. This gimmick didn’t last too long as the New York Giants were prepared for this. Kaepernick was sacked twice and had only six rushing yards on two attempts.
To change quarterbacks midseason would be dramatic. The offense Greg Roman implemented to the team was built for Smith to operate. If Kaepernick wins another game in the same fashion he did on Monday night, the spark of controversy will add more fuel to the discussion.
Kaepernick has a big arm and has the size as well as athleticism which intrigued Harbaugh and 49ers’ general manager Trent Baalke. Last night, the Bears were playing to stop the run, thinking Kaepernick would be scrambling. What makes this interesting is how he played in the pocket for most of the night and looked like a traditional NFL quarterback.
Vernon Davis said it would be tough to decide who to support if Alex Smith was healthy. He was involved in the passing game thanks to Kaepernick throwing to him early in the first quarter. In his last four games combined, Davis had nine receptions for 101 receiving yards. On Monday night, he finished with six receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown. Four of his receptions came in the first quarter. Davis will prefer whoever can give the best chance to win.
“It’s tough,” said Davis. “Alex [Smith] is a genuine guy. I’ve been here with him since Day 1 and I’ve always supported him. Colin is the same way. A very humble heart, soft spoken. He wants to be great. I can’t choose sides. I’m here to support either one of them.”
Right now, Kaepernick is the best option for the 49ers because Smith isn’t healthy. When Smith is ready to go, he should remain the starting quarterback. Despite what happened on Monday night, NFL team teams will eventually figure out Kaepernick when they’re given more tape on him. The “hot-hand” talk by Harbaugh is to promote competition and better play among his quarterbacks.
Smith still provides the best chance to win when he is healthy and it will stay that way for the rest of the 2012 season. There shouldn’t be a controversy until further notice in 2013 at the earliest.