Jim Harbaugh deserves the highest praise for benching Alex Smith and starting Colin Kaepernick.
It would have been easy for Harbaugh to hand the starting quarterback job back to Alex Smith after he returned from his concussion. Very few experts would have criticized Harbaugh for that conservative, timid move. After all, Smith is the fourth-highest rated quarterback in the NFL, and he’s a veteran and he’s a winner.
Harbaugh didn’t make the safe decision. He made a bold decision, an unprecedented decision, and the right decision.
Kaepernick gives the 49ers a better chance to win a Super Bowl this season than Alex Smith. Kaepernick makes the offense more explosive and more difficult to defend.
Harbaugh knows this, and that’s why he made the switch.
It’s a tough switch to justify, because there is no historical precedent on which to back it up. No Super Bowl winner has ever chosen to bench a veteran quarterback with a 100+ QB rating for a novice QB this late in the season.
Harbaugh doesn’t care to justify himself. He wants to be a pioneer. That is why the 49ers hired him in the first place – to be creative and audacious, to develop an elite quarterback and to win the Super Bowl.
If Harbaugh thought Alex Smith could win the Super Bowl this season, he would still be the starter. Harbaugh’s putting himself on the line by starting Kaepernick, going against the experts’ opinions and doing what he thinks gives the 49ers the best chance to win the Super Bowl in a few months.
Besides, if Kaepernick falters, Harbaugh can always go back to Smith. It’s as simple as that.
Praise Harbaugh for putting himself on the line. Praise Harbaugh for making the right decision.