When I said that Colin Kaepernick could challenge for the starting job, I didn’t mean that he deserved that shot this season. If all the speculation is correct, and Jim Harbaugh is going to start Kaepernick against the Saints, in New Orleans, he had better work out as the starter, because they won’t really have a choice afterwards.
As much as I like Kaepernick, and actually do think this move could work out for the 49ers, I think it is far too risky at this point in the season. After years of fan beratement, poor coaching, new playbooks, and being replaced as the starter on occasion, Jim Harbaugh was able to not only get the most out of Alex Smith physically, but rebuild his confidence as well. Alex Smith’s confidence now hangs in the balance.
Does anybody remember when the 49ers brass tried to get Manning to jump on board in the off season, and then had to massage Smith’s ego after that didn’t work out? Imagine if he gets replaced by a second year, second round draft pick with one good start under his belt. If the 49ers make the switch to Kaepernick, Smith’s confidence will be gone, and his faith in the 49ers organization will disappear with it. If they make the switch to Kaepernick, like it or not, the cold hard reality is they are all in with this kid. Is that a risk worth taking, when you already have a QB that easily could have led you to the super bowl were it not for 2 Kyle Williams fumbles?
Not only would this move send the wrong message to Alex Smith, it sends the wrong message to every veteran on the team. It is demoralizing and adds pressure to your already difficult job as an NFL starter, if you are constantly worrying about the guy below you in the depth chart. Especially if you take into account that Kaepernick doesn’t even get his shot at the starting job if Alex Smith doesn’t get a concussion on a very questionable hit. Gotta wonder if he would admit to his concussion symptoms, had he known it could cost him his job. Will any 49ers players admit to symptoms after this? With all the concern about head shots, and a need for the NFL to change its culture surrounding those types of injuries, this move would send a terrible message across the league.
I wasn’t lying when I said I liked Kaepernick, and I really do think he has a bright future in the NFL, and maybe even as a member of the 49ers, but now is not the time. If he falters somewhere down the road this season, there is no going back to Smith. If he gets hurt, there is no going back to Smith. If the 49ers were struggling at the quarterback position it would make some sense, but they were doing just fine with Smith, and as such this moves potential reward is outweighed by the hefty risk. Kaepernick could do fine in the role, and Harbaugh could look like a genius come February, but what happens if he doesn’t? Trust me Niners fans, you don’t wanna know.