As you probably know by now, I'm a huge fan of the San Francisco 49ers and have been ever since I can remember. So can imagine how great I feel to see the 'Niners do well. Before last season, I haven't been able to say that for a while, since the 49ers didn't make the playoffs every year since the '02-'03 season. To be honest, I didn't expect the team to make the strides they did last season, coming within two special teams fumbles of making it to the Super Bowl. I figured under the direction of head coach Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco would win the NFC West, but not make it all the way to the NFC Championship Game. This season was supposed to be the year where we could see the 49ers make it back to the top and tie the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most Super Bowl wins in NFL history. Well here we are, with the 49ers sitting at 8-2-1, comfortably in first place in the NFC West and poised to make that Super Bowl run. A lot of people (myself included) believe if there is one question mark on the 49ers' roster, it was at the quarterback position. As a fan, I have been highly critical of Alex Smith throughout his career, even going as far as calling him a bust. With that said, Smith made great strides under Harbaugh's watch and almost led the team to the Super Bowl. He even out-dueled New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees down the stretch of the NFC Divisional Playoff in leading the 'Niners to a 36-32 victory. Even though Smith was able to make those strides, I still wondered if Smith is the man to lead San Fran to the promised land. With Smith as the starting QB, it just seemed like the offense was missing something, which would be the dynamic of explosive plays. That element has not been missing since the backup, Colin Kapernick, has taken over as the starter. So now there's a "QB controversy" in San Francisco. Do you go forward with Smith or Kapernick? Let's start with the facts. We know Kapernick is in there because Smith suffered a concussion in a game against the St Louis Rams. So if Smith does ultimately lose his starting job, it wouldn't be because of performance. We also know in the two games against the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints, Kapernick has brought a big-play dynamic by extending plays and throwing the ball downfield. If you're Harbaugh, this is a good problem to have because you feel you have two quarterbacks you can rely on to get the job done. The funny thing is I don't think this is really a problem in Harbaugh's eyes. I believe he feels Kapernick is the guy down the stretch because he knows Kapernick gives the 'Niners the ability to take that final step and be a Super Bowl champion. This is a team that is built to win right now and in the future, and I think Harbaugh knows this. That means he will do what's necessary to make sure he gets the maximum potential out of this team, and if that means benching Smith, so be it. I want to stress the point that I don't feel Smith did anything to lose his job. In fact, he has played very well this season. Smith even had a game against the Arizona Cardinals where he connected on 18 of 19 passes. It's just unfortunate he suffered a concussion. Only time will tell who the 49ers will turn to down the stretch, but I believe if the 49ers want to win the Super Bowl, Kapernick is the man that gives them the best chance to do so.
By Charles Taylor