Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 9/10/13
Alex Smith was proving himself to be an elite quarterback, winning six of the San Francisco 49ers' first 8 games of the 2012 season, and eventually suffering a concussion in his ninth game; his backup quarterback, Colin Kaepernick was given a chance to display his skills.After a decent performance after Smith was taken to the sideline, and the game after that(16 of 23, 243 YDS, 69.6%, 2 TDs, 0 INT), 49ers' coach Jim Harbaugh named Kaepernick the starting quarterback.Kaepernick went on to finish the the 49ers' season with an 11-4-1 record, leading them to their first Super Bowl since 1994 in the process, and throwing 10 touchdowns and only three interceptions.Colin Kaepernick started the 2013 season strong, throwing 412 yards and three touchdowns (0 INTs) in the season opener.Alex Smith's 49ers' franchise records/notable stats:The most game winning drives in a single season (6)Most 4th quarter comeback wins (6)Fewest interceptions in a season (5, requires 16 starts)Most consecutive pass attempts without an interception (249)Ranked third in the NFL in the 2012 with a passer rating of 104.1 (prior to injury)Led the league in completion percentage in 2012 (70%) (prior to injury) Colin Kaepernick's 49ers' franchise records/notable stats:Most rushing yards by a quarterback in a game (regular season and postseason, an NFL record)First 400-yard game by a 49ers' quarterback since Tim Rattay in 2004.First 400-yard, three-touchdown performance by a 49ers' quarterback since Jeff Garcia in 1999.Third quarterback to run for two touchdowns and pass for two touchdowns in a playoff game.  How good is Colin Kaepernick? When you look at both Smith's and Kaepernick's stats, they are both mind-boggling. Yet the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the 49ers is their spectacular defense, they have the ability to force turnovers and takeaways on most of their opponents with hard hitters such as Patrick Willis and Aldon Smith. They also proved hard to score on, limiting their opponents to 294.4 yards per game(3rd in NFL).San Francisco also has elite talent on the offensive side of the ball, providing Kaepernick with weapons such as Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis, Anquan Boldin, and Frank Gore; not to mention the head coach Jim Harbaugh who completely turned the 49ers around.Taking the talent on offense into consideration, it's hard to tell how good any starting quarterback is:The amount of games won isn't a valid argument since the playmakers the 49ers have on defense will cause trouble for their opponents to score.Of course it's going to be easier to throw more touchdowns than interceptions when you have players who can get open, and utilizing play-action when you have an elite running backNearly every team had problems stopping the read option last season, which only benefited Kaepernick's success.Kaeperick threw for 412 yards in the 2013 season-opener, 208 of those yards went to Anquan Boldin, what if Boldin wasn't playing?Not to take away credit from Colin Kaepernick, he is able to get the job done, but what quarterback couldn't on THAT team? It's safe to say if you were to put Carson Palmer on the 49ers, he'd be considered elite like his 2005 season with the Cincinnati Bengals.It's hard to say how good Kaepernick really is; Ron Jaworski thinks he could be one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, and right now, I do agree. He has also shown he can do without the read option, but I'm curious to see how he will perform without the many elite weapons he has on offense.Who plays a bigger role in the team's success? Him or the teammates around him? Leave a comment below!
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