Everyone Loves a New Quarterback, Until …
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By Hujatullah Bayat
With a record of 8-2-1 and a commanding lead in their division, one would think it would be smooth sailing towards the playoffs for the 49ers, with none of the drama that surrounds other teams at this time of year. Then a little less than half way through the season starting quarterback Alex Smith — working under a new three-year contract — suffered a concussion and lost his starting job.
What ever happened to old unspoken rule of not losing your starting job due to an injury? Colin Kaepernick happened. He has more than just filled in for Smith, he has outright outperformed him. People ask, how are Jim Harbaugh and his staff going to sit a quarterback who has a 70 percent completion rate? The Niners are just simply harder to defend with Kaepernick, the playbook is vast, and people forget that it was Kaepernick who threw balls clocking in near 60 mph at the 2010 combine.
Through two games, the team looks better, and the receiving core looks more alert and impressive. The running game seems a bit more relaxed, even though Kendal Hunter will be out for the rest of the year due to a torn Achilles tendon. The Niners are not having as many three-down drives, and they are keeping their offense on the field more and giving the defense a rest.
However, everyone loves the new quarterback until he makes a game-losing mistake, and you could say Kaepernick did just that last Sunday. The blown safety call and botched option-pitch were not all his fault, but those were just two plays that added to Sunday’s loss. David Akers could have made the 51-yard field goal, but Delaine Walker also could have caught Kaepernick’s perfect pass in the end zone to win it.
While this isn’t the end of the world, it does make everyone scratch their head just a little, wondering if the 49ers would have won this week had Smith started. Before, there was a controversy; now, what is it?
Harbaugh announced after the game that Kaepernick would start again next week, so he has another week to lock up that starting spot. The truth is that this 49er team is so special and so talented that it should not be losing to its division rivals over bad calls and bad play execution. If these mistakes continue to occur, then we may see Alex Smith back behind the center.
Hujatullah Bayat is a third-year dental student.