Smith or Kap? Choose carefully

This is my Saturday column.

Alex Smith is better than Colin Kaepernick.

Face it. Jim Harbaugh picked the wrong quarterback. The 49ers never should have traded Smith, never should have benched him in the first place.

Remember how it went down? Harbaugh was so eager to bench Smith, Harbaugh broke an unwritten rule, an NFL tradition – a player does not lose his starting job if he gets hurt. Alex Smith had a 104 passer rating 10 games into the 2012 season when he got knocked out of a game against the Rams.

Harbaugh used Smith’s concussion as an opening to anoint Kaepernick, kind of like Harbaugh was dating a girl who canceled a date because she had a cold, so Harbaugh took out her sister as a last minute replacement and dumped the sick girl.

Harbaugh couldn’t shake Smith fast enough. Smith was a 49er long before Harbaugh – Harbaugh inherited him, as if through an arranged marriage.

Harbaugh’s first season on the Niners – 2011 – he lobbied the front office to draft Kaepernick. Kaepernick was Harbaugh’s guy. Smith wasn’t. Easier for a coach to move on from a player with whom he has no ties than one he personally drafts and invests time developing.

Kaepernick has a power arm. He’s bigger, faster and 31/2 years younger than Smith. Harbaugh couldn’t resist Kaepernick’s raw ability and potential. Most evaluators think Kaepernick has the potential to be consistently special, consistently better than Smith. Harbaugh must have thought he could develop Kaepernick into a big time quarterback, a Pro Bowler, and Kaepernick would lead the 49ers to a Super Bowl victory.

Hasn’t happened.

Look at the facts. Smith made the Pro Bowl last season. Kaepernick didn’t. Kaepernick has made zero Pro Bowl teams.

Since the beginning of the 2013 season — including playoff games — Smith’s passer rating has been 92.1 as the Chiefs’ starting quarterback. Kaepernick’s passer rating has been 89.2. During that time, Smith has committed seven penalties and Kaepernick has committed 12. This season, Kaepernick already has committed four penalties, more than any other player on the 49ers.

In three career playoff games, Smith’s passer rating was 108.6. In six career playoff games, Kaepernick’s passer rating was 87.3.

If Smith had been the 49ers quarterback this season instead of Kaepernick, the Niners probably would be 3-1 right now, not 2-2. Smith probably wouldn’t have turned the ball over four times Week 2 against the Bears like Kaepernick did.

If Smith had been the 49ers’ quarterback last season, the 49ers might have gone to the Super Bowl. Smith probably would not have turned the ball over three straight times in the fourth quarter against the Seahawks in the NFC championship game like Kaepernick did.

If Smith had not gotten benched two seasons ago, the 49ers might have won the Super Bowl. Smith probably would not have thrown three straight incomplete passes in Michael Crabtree’s direction to lose to the Ravens like Kaepernick did. Smith probably would have thrown at least one pass to Vernon Davis.

None of this is to say Kaepernick can’t play. He can.

But he’s a tease. Sometimes his performance makes you drool. Sometimes his performance makes you cringe. He is what you call a sometimes performer.

Better to not have a sometimes performer playing quarterback. A quarterback who’s a sometimes performer can win a game by himself when he’s on, but he also can lose a game by himself when he’s off.

A great team like the 49ers should not have to depend on a volatile, up-and-down quarterback. The 49ers don’t need a quarterback who gambles and goes for heroic plays. The 49ers are good enough to win games with power running and defense. The 49ers need a consistent quarterback who doesn’t make big, game-losing mistakes.

That’s Smith. Smith is a consistent performer. He’s like a golfer who plays it safe and goes for par. Kaepernick is like a golfer who goes for birdies every hole. Sure, he shoots some birdies, maybe a few eagles. But he also shoots some double-bogeys.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect Smith to beat the 49ers on Sunday. At least nine key Chiefs are injured and will not play. The Chiefs are not in the 49ers’ class.

Sunday’s game should be ugly, something like a 33-10 victory for the Niners.

Unless Kaepernick gives the game away. And you know he can.

Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at

This article has 168 Comments

  1. Wow, another piece ripping the 49ers. I’m shocked. I’m pretty sure the 49ers are also responsible for world hunger, maybe you should write about that next time.

    Good to see you have now changed your tune and believe they should have stuck with Alex. Of course, how could you not, if you didn’t change your tune you wouldn’t be able to write another article explaining how the 49ers did something wrong. Funny, I remember at the time you were very adamant about how the 49ers had to go with Kaep. Good thing you are never wrong.

    But you missed the real QB issue in this article. The 49ers biggest mistake was not drafting Tyler Wilson. Or David Fales. Those guys would have taken us to the promised land.

    But I digress. Here is a more in-depth and balanced analysis, that doesn’t simply cherry pick stats that back up your argument.

    1. Good writeup. Thanks Scooter. Grant your timing is like that of a child. Write a garbage article early in the week, not the day before the game.

      1. It’s so sad that you didn’t get to have the first post. Did you notice all them stats that Grant used to support his argument?

        How come you didn’t shove the 51% 3rd down completion up Grant’s pie hole?


      2. Oh look who is crying again because he didn’t get to read what he wanted. Baby!

        2 years ago you were Grants best pal, because he gave Alex static every day. Now that it’s your hero, you moan like a cow giving birth!
        The 49ers had no choice but to let Smith go, he was older, more expensive at the time. CK looked promising and again, Harbaugh thought he could just coach him up and he’d be ready. Well now it’s taken more time than originally thought on developing the running QB to a complete passing and running QB.

        1. I don’t think the Bay Area Big Baby shouldn’t be mad at me or Grant. Instead he should re-think his hero worship of the Kaepster. All Colin has to do is rise up, play better, show exponential development, and not these baby steps, and I for one will a very happy fan.

          While the Big Baby will, I’m sure, pull out a list of stats to support his love fest for Colin, the one he just can’t avoid is Colin’s stats in the 4th quarter. You know, the quarter where the game is won. Every game we get a bigger body of work of Colin, we see inconsistency, we see a QB who can make great plays, but has yet to make the signature to ice the game. It’s really been Dawson and Gore.

          And he’s prone to make the mistake to definitely lose games.
          You don’t have to agree with Grant, but at least he lays out his argument. Unlike Kevin Lynch, who makes no sense. He said that Kaep’s prayer chuck to Gore was his 4th read!

        2. Smith is way better than kap, only a complete idiot disagrees. That’s why everyone quit. The niners will suck till armegedon for

      3. Great article, Smith is way better than kap. You koolaide drinkers are drunk on the absolute idiot’s choice. Watch Smith in the playoffs, and watch the niners in the cellar.

    2. Grant

      Why do you constantly refer to passer rating instead of QBR? Smith’s QBR is 49.0, which is a bad rating. The top 3 in the league are Peyton, Rodgers, and Rivers.

      Did you know Alex Smith threw 3 INTs in a single game this season, against the Titans?

      Do you remember when Smith lost to the Giants, just couldn’t beat them?

      How do you write this stuff and sleep at night? You have zero integrity.

      1. Actually, Smith didn’t lose to the Giants…the 49er’s lost to the Giants…football is the consumate team sport….something that some 49er fans seem to forget.

        1. He sure didn’t help win that game. If that’s the way it is, then there is no reason in even comparing these two. I was at that game and watched Crabtree throwing fits at times because he didn’t even get a look. Was open a lot in that game. Smith wouldn’t dare throw those timing routes like ck does. It’s not a secret why Crabtrees numbers went up as soon as smith was benched. Sorry IMO no way NY wins that game if CK is qb.

          1. Smith is way better than kap, only a complete idiot disagrees. That’s why everyone quit. The niners will suck till armegedon for

          2. Bull are you sniffing glue? The niners will suck for ever for benching Smith. Watch him in the playoffs, then watch niners in the cellar. Go Alex.

    3. Thank you Mr. McG.
      Perhaps Grant is a Hipster. You know, and enjoys the irony of criticizing what he formerly lauded as the only sensible approach.
      Its also so valuable to have his many years of experience to put into context the weird extremely rare occurrence when a fairly new Head Coach favors and selects his hand-picked and drafted QB over one drafted by a previous regime. That stuff almost never happens in NFL history.

    4. I enjoy this blog even though I disagree with good chunk of what Grant writes but this article is just absurd and does nothing but make me roll my eyes. For HIM of all people to say that the 49ers should have stuck with Smith is nothing but laughable considering what he wrote before and after the Bears game in 2012. “If Smith had not gotten benched two seasons ago, the 49ers might have won the Super Bowl” is just the most hilarious about-face ever. Does he think we just forgot what he wrote about Smith in his final year? It wasn’t even 2 years ago..

    5. Another good article, Grant. Although I’m on the fence about who will win. The few stats I looked up are pretty close. SF has allowed on average 22.2 pts per game; KC 19.8.

      SF has 352.5 yards per game on average; KC 350.8.

      SF has given up more penalty yds, 383 and 46 penalties and KC 18 penalties for 145 yds.

      AS desperately wants to win this game. As for the 49ers it always comes down to Kaepernick’s accuracy,poise turnovers and penalties.

    6. Grant must be really bored right now and be tired of writing about the current 49ers or just wants to incite online rioting. Isn’t this yelling fire in a crowded room? I mean come on neither of these guys even really play here anymore. I pass for when we are talking about real football again after we lose to the Bengals.

  2. You had me until the Seattle game. Kaepernick had a hand in losing that game BUT if it weren’t for him the 49ers wouldn’t even been in a position to win it. You remember the only offense we had that game was because of Kaepernicks legs.

  3. If Smith stayed and was the starter this column would be about how it is time to sit the game manger and start Keapernick. Give me a brake.

  4. “31/2 years younger than Smith” is a good observation. The typical dialog seems to imply Colin’s 8 years younger then Smith. A virtual baby. In fact, Colin will be 27 in a month.

    Unless Colin makes a (dramatic) transformation into a pocket passer (not saying he can’t), subtract about 3 years from his career. Don’t be surprised if Colin and Alex complete their careers as starters in the same season.

    1. The blog is absolutely full of homers today. Grant, good write-up, substantiated by facts and figures. If Kaep wanted to start a ‘posse’, today’s comments would go a long ways in starting. I’m beginning to wonder if the bloggers are interested in football at all, or just trying to criticize Grant….think back, Grant filled a large hole for all of us. He has given us opinions to agree or disagree with….not become Don Rickles before our eyes. Lighten up guys, (and Mary) enjoy the game….

      1. Thanks Oregonniner: I don’t really have a dog in the fight. Even tho I think Niner/KC game will be good, I’m more interested in what will happen with Cards/Denver. If the Cards win that game the coaches in our div. will be scrambling to squash them pronto. Ravens/Colts is a game to watch

      2. Niner homers > KC smith homers.
        Ya dig? You even have Mary on your side. Not a good look Oregon. Ouch!

    2. I don’t view my above comments as necessarily critical of Grants position. I’m a fence sitter who sees value in both QBs.

      The one area I see differently then Grant in this article… I think both QBs were Harbaugh’s guy. Harbaugh needed a QB with chaos productivity to get around the NY Giants. NY pulled a fast one by missing the 2012 post season.

  5. “Harbaugh couldn’t wait to move on from Smith.” Grant you should insert your name in place of Harbaughs. Go read what you wrote after Kaeps first start against Chicago. You are a weirdo, to put it lightly. Its OK to change your mind but your reasons doing so are unfounded. If your best argument is “Smith probably wouldn’t have… ” is no argument at all.

  6. In 2011 Baalke pegged Alex Smith good as gone. Then Harbaugh and Alex played a game of catch during the lockout. (The NFL was not happy about that). After that Harbaugh became Alex’s biggest proponent.

    So why Change? My hunch… Harbs made the change (in his mind) after the 2012 home catastrophe vs the NY Giants. In 12 qtrs vs the Giants, Alex won the first 2, NY won the following 10.

    Harbaugh may have still thought Alex was the better overall quarterback, but he matched up poorly vs the Giants. Later Harbs made the switch, but NY pulled a fast one by missing the playoffs.

    Colin was doing well, but injuries to Hunter, Williams and Manningham hampered him for the rest of 2012. I’m convinced that with a healthy Hunter the 49ers would have that 6th Lombardi.

  7. On November 22nd, 2012

    “Praise Harbaugh for anointing Kaepernick

    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.”
    On October 4th, 2014

    “Face it. Jim Harbaugh picked the wrong quarterback. The 49ers never should have traded Smith, never should have benched him in the first place.”

    1. Um, Grant, I believe you have just been owned. You may want to shut up and find another career while you’re behind because you’ll never be ahead again.

    2. Skeptic – your post says it all… I too remember Grant calling incessantly for Alex’s head and for Kaep to take over. Jeez, does he think we are all senile?

      1. I told k.n.b.r. idiots day one that Smith is q.b. Jerry rice, Steve young, said Smith, Brent Jones said kap

  8. If I hadn’t said no to that girl in second grade, I could have been a movie star. If I had kissed my first boss’ butt, I would have been making Donald Trump lick my shoes clean. If I had only picked up that stupid penny off the sidewalk 6 1/2 years ago, I could have stopped the budget deficit from happening. If I had only gotten an A instead of a B for my final grade in history, then I could have stopped Obama from becoming president. Do you see where I’m going with this Grant? We expect halfway decent reporting from you and we get this crap?! If I wanted far-fetched scenarios that couldn’t be proven, I’d go join a campaign team. It’s absolutely pathetic that you were pining for Kaep while Smith was here then reversed course when Smith continued to have success with his current team. I agree that Kaep isn’t where many of us thought he’d be, but to say that the team made the wrong choice is beyond ludicrous. Can’t you write something better than this trash? Sheesh!

    1. He’s a hack. Further evidence of this is that he got the support of the troll Rainbow fan77.

      1. You love stats! Why don’t you counter his position with your own stats to show Colin is clearly the better choice based on what he has done, not what he is capable of?

        You are the troll because you always bashed Alex when he was the QB, and you rip on the O-Line and throw all the defensive players under the bus in defense of games lost because of Colin’s bad decisions.

        Wow I didn’t know that Colin leads the team in penalties. Prime always slams on Kaep for lacking leadership. Well now we have proof he leads in something!

        How in God’s name did Colin score 38 on the Wonderlic? Who gave him the answers? I think Goodell should set up an investigation.

        1. Fan 77 is on the KC blog as a converted fan. Who follows a player and leaves their team?

          1. A troll. I’ve been telling you guys for two seasons and you are all just starting to notice?

            1. You sir, are the troll. You bash the O-Line and the Defense constantly. I only bash one player. The one who makes throws INTs, misses WRS by a mile, like that pass to Brandon Lloyd on 3-19 in the AZ game.

          2. On the K.C. blog? No kidding? Sorry, but that’s illustrative.
            How many effing Posers do we have to put up with? Come on here to whine. kma.
            Some of us may be aho’s, but give me a straight-talking sob who I can respect even in disagreement over a weasel every day.

        2. You love stats! Why don’t you counter his position with your own stats to show Colin is clearly the better choice based on what he has done, not what he is capable of?

          Because stats never tell the whole story. Please come up with a better argument than that.

          1. MWD Stats tell a huge part of the story. Here’s an extreme example and I don’t follow either one of these teams. For instance the Jags have been giving up 37 pts per game, the Bengals give 11 pts per game. So if I just go w/those two stats based on how they are both performing now, it’s a given the Bengals will win if they play a game now, short a miracle. I’d also check their offense b/c they’d have to be throwing up PManning #s in order to offset that terrible defense.

            When teams are better matched you look for turnovers, penalties, poor clock management. Any little mistake is costly and that’s the difference b/t winning and losing. Stats tell the story of your past and how you will perform in the future unless drastic changes take place.

            1. Sorry Mary, but you’re incorrect. Stats tell only a minor part of the story. They don’t tell why a player struggles at a certain aspect of the game, who could be an underdog, and who will be standing at the top once the dust settles. They also don’t who is just a simple one-year wonder or the real deal.

              1. MWD you’re really grasping at straws. Coaches review stats after each game.I know Pete Carroll relies heavily on them to see if the team is giving him the #s he wants. I can tell you right now he’s not happy with how the defense is performing. They only allowed 14.3 pts in 2013 and this year it’s 22 per game to date.

    2. What I don’t understand is why he thinks it is a good idea to intentionally and incessantly attempt to alienate and anger 49er fans on a 49er blog? That is pretty much the definition of a troll.

      1. “What I don’t understand is why he thinks it is a good idea to intentionally and incessantly attempt to alienate and anger 49er fans on a 49er blog? ”

        Scooter, assuming that question is about Grant then I got an easy answer for you. It generate internet clicks. Apparently, this is the only way to succeed in this industry if you’re not good with your craft. Forget about hard work, just write something to enraged your reader and you’re good to go. It’s crazy, from all of my jobs, I was told to make sure your customers are happy. Well, it looks like that doesn’t apply to this industry. The more you provide bad customer service the better for your business.

      2. It’s like Grant saw that this blog won an award and said, “Oh snap! I’ve got to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

      3. I believe he learned from his Dad a deep and sincere disdain for sports fans. I actually do believe that and would gladly say it politely to their faces. He sneers at fans (his Dad covers up better in between slash attacks) and just spends his time looking for ‘evidence’ (but settling for hearsay and Tweets) with which to criticize the team he ostensibly covers.
        Ahem, what is the title of this blog?

        1. When Grant first started it appeared he saw this as a forum to engage with an audience, and while he would never have been accused of being pro 49ers (nor should he be), he had enough of a balance and an interest in the thoughts of many commenting here that I enjoyed reading his content. I’m a 49er fan, but I don’t mind reading negative things about the team. Not everything they do is good, and sometimes it is bad.

          But the reverse is also true. Not everything they do is bad, and sometimes it is good. You wouldn’t know it having read Grant’s pieces the past 6 or so months. A team that has been one of the best and most consistent the past three seasons all of a sudden can’t do anything good worthy of writing about, apparently.

          Compounding this, Grant has taken to increasing levels of sensationalism to reinforce his opinions. Everything 49er isn’t just bad, its sordid, complete with tenuous metaphors and hyperbole, over exaggeration, exclusion of facts that don’t fit the narrative, and conclusions based on suspect evidence. There is a name for that kind of journalism – tabloid journalism.

          I’ve generally been a supporter of Grant since he took over this gig. I’ve enjoyed many a conversation and debate with him across a lot of different topics. Where did that Grant go?

          1. “Where did that Grant go?”

            Scooter, that Grant is not coming back! He has found the formula to get a lot of reactions from the fans in this blog. Maybe, he is being pressured by his employer to get more internet-clicks for this blog, or maybe he thinks that this is the way to get some name recognition that he needs to advance his career. Or maybe he just enjoys messing with the 49ers fans. Really, who knows what motivates him at this point. All I know is that I only come here to read the comments from the fans.

  9. Why didn’t you write this article 2 years ago? and no …Alex would still be a second best QB had he not bench.

  10. BTW, one other thing I’d like to say about the article. You said Harbaugh couldn’t ditch Smith fast enough, the QB he inherited. You may want to check your facts. Harbaugh didn’t inherit him. Harbaugh was the one that convinced Alex to re-sign in 2011, Harbaugh’s first year as coach. He could have ditched him from the get go but didn’t.

    1. Yup… Baalke has Alex good as gone. Then Harbaugh had one of his (now) famous games of catch with Alex.

      Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick are both “Harbaugh’s guy.”

      I’m generally a data over hunch fan, but I’m convinced it was the 2012 NY Giants debacle that (quietly) made Harbaugh accelerate Colin as a starter. He assumed he’d see them again in the 2012 post season and thought Colin would provide the chaos production needed to crack the Giants defense.

      1. The Smith 3 Int game where he got crushed at home.
        The guys sniffing Smith’s jock act like he walked on water in SF. He was a check down king and Harbaugh wanted more. That’s why we are where we are.

        1. Where is that exactly? Crossroads with a QB who still relies on the run, a one route read and rockstar persona who wears head phones and sunglasses to press conferences. Yeah we are in such a better place!

          1. You forgot to mention the bonehead mistakes. Not once, not twice, but more then 3 times! The Niners lead the league in penalties and our QB has the most. Yikes! And somehow we are supposed to believe that we can catch the Seahawks?

      2. Another hunch… those games of catch are less about assessing a QBs throwing, and more about getting less guarded answers out of a player.

        Cults would often lure victims into volleyball games. While concentrating on the ball, victims would answer questions they never would in sedentary situations.

        When Harbaugh says “lets toss the ball around”, his main goal might be getting maximum information.

      1. No. He’s only an average WR. The Pats are a WR needy team and let him go. I don’t think he is an upgrade on what we already have.

        1. I meant by adding him on to the practice squad. And I wouldn’t either for the record.

  11. Hey NinerMD. I thought you said your Sooners would move up a spot. What happened man?

    1. Always struggle with those high powered offenses. Lol upset week in college. Hope they make the playoff bracket at least. Smh

  12. Cal’s Jared Goff is coming off a 6 TD passing game. Should be an interesting game tonight against WSU.

    Oh, BTW, Alex Smith had a 10 game win streak last year and made a pro-bowl appearance as he so rightly deserved.
    Yes Grant, those are the facts. Everything else you wrote is purely conjecture and hypothetical.

  13. “Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect Smith to beat the 49ers on Sunday. At least nine key Chiefs are injured and will not play. The Chiefs are not in the 49ers’ class.”

    Way to hedge your bet Grant! If he’s better he’ll win because the teams are both missing an equal number of key players. Lets be fair now. Bowman, Aldon, Dorsey, V Davis, A Davis, V MacDonald, T Brock, Kendall Hunter makes 9 key players out for the 49ers too. 8 if V MacDonanld plays.

    Stats can be spun any way you want them. But here’s a comprehensive look at the two in the link below. Look a real reporter with actual objectivity who isn’t trying to just get a rise out of the fan base. Pay attention to the bottom stat. Kap’s completion on passes over 20yds 45.6%, Smith’s 36.7%.

    Kap’s playoff QBR 82.5
    Smith’s playoff QBR 56.4

    At this point the 49ers wouldn’t be much different if Smith were at the helm. He’d throw less interceptions but he’d also make less spectacular plays like the 2 TD throws last week. Its kind of a wash.

    1. Good stuff Jack.

      For me, once again, I’m particularly interested to see if the pass rush can get to the QB this week. Last week they did a much improved job, and unsurprisingly the whole D looked significantly better. But that was against a largely 2nd string OL. Can they do it against a 1st string OL this week? That will be a key to this game.

      On the other side of the coin, can the 49ers OL hold up against the Chiefs pass rush? Getting Gore, Hyde and Ellington involved in the running game will help. But the OL has to play a lot better than they have been to keep the passing game relevant against the Chiefs pass rush.

      1. Yeah. I think we’ll see it be good again tomorrow. Lynch playing more may be the ticket.

        As for slowing down the KC rush, I think it starts with getting Gore going. That opens up play action and slows them down a tick.

    2. Jack,

      You bring up a good point.

      “Simply put, when the 49ers don’t get Gore involved in the game bad things happen.”

      In this Smith vs. Kaep comparison, it’s clear that the Niners want Kaep to do more and utilize his movement, and every time they put the ball in his hands and game plan around his passing, the final results have been mixed.

      With Smith, most of the time they played a balanced, efficient game. Captain Checkdown 3.0.

      Smith’s 2 worse games as a starter were in 2012 against the Vikings, when the whole team was flat, and the Giants, when he threw 3 picks. People like to pile on Smith and how he can’t beat them. But this was also the game where they actively worked Colin into the game plan. They yanked Smith, in various game situations. I recall the Giants sniffed out a a run in the read zone, and another play Colin held the ball too long and got sacked.

        1. Okay let’s talk about Blaine Gabbert. Would he be a better choice to hand the ball off to Gore?
          What was his wonderlic score?

          1. Sure, let’s talk about Blaine Gagbert. Why is he so awful? Don’t worry, I’ll wait for ypur answer.

  14. Kaepernick has more natural ability than Alex—that’s the reason Harbaugh went with Kaepernick, I believe. But the jury is still out regarding who will be better. Both are still improving.

    In any event, trading Alex has turned out well for the 49ers. The 49ers ended up getting five players: Stevie Johnson, who is already helping; Carlos Hyde, Tank Carradine, and Chris Borland, who are all very promising, and also Corey Lemonier.

  15. “Remember how it went down? Harbaugh was so eager to bench Smith, Harbaugh broke an unwritten rule, an NFL tradition – a player does not lose his starting job”

    When did it become an unwritten rule? Please explain…..

    I remember Drew Bledsoe getting injured, Tom Brady taking over and keeping the job. Did the Pats make a mistake?

    1. Wasn’t there a certain NYY 1st Baseman who got dinged? Some guy named Lou Gerhig filled in for a few games.
      How can a journalist have so
      Iittle sense of history.
      What is history? The track record for our species, but not much other than that.

      1. It’s really mind boggling thag he thinks it’s a “cardinal rule”. That happens everyday. It’s sports. There’s always someone hungry looking to capitalize on anything. Injuries or failures. It does not matter.

  16. Grant is a giant d!ck. He and his POS father hated Alex Smith and used every opportunity to tear him down. Now that he’s not around, they get to tear down Kaepernick using Alex Smith. What a pile of horse dung the Cohn family is.

  17. This article is laughable. Alex smith is a 10 year veteran, so he’s suppose to be doing as good as he is ( which still isn’t great). 10 years and only twice has he thrown over 3,000 yards and he hasn’t even reach 3500 yet. Kaepernick makes bonehead plays, yes he does, but he’s still had a better start to his career than smith has. That goes for regular season and the playoffs. Alex is a good QB, but he’s also gone. Let him stay gone.

  18. I have never seen a player take a team to 2 div championship and 1 SB take so much crap from people. Peyton Manning had 1 of the worse SB ever but it’s cool, even Mark Sanchez didn’t take this type of crap when the Jets were winning and he was awful. People just flat out don’t like CK man its cut and dry and I believe if he was this clean drop back first round pick QB that everybody love he would be a success in everybodys eyes so far in his career, but since he doesn’t fit the mold of an “NFL quarterback ” he gets so much crap. Alex Smith was a bust the first 7 years of his career and didn’t accomplish nothing close to what CK accomplished his first 2 years under center that’s just facts, Alex is at his ceiling and CK hasn’t even scratched his yet (only 2nd year as full starter) how has Sanfran messed up.

  19. It seems that fans sports writers like to take the easy and simple way out and give the QB most of the credit for a teams record when the win and most of the blame when they lose.

    The main argument for retaining Alex after he was benched was the teams record during the 2011 and early 2012 season. Alex was perceived as an excellent game manager and with the dynamic running game and defense that was all that was required for the Niners to be successful. The conclusion by many was that Alex would have continued to have the same success with this team that he had under Harbaugh before he was benched. They assumption continued to build that if Alex had been the QB in the Superbowl against the Ravens the Niners would not have lost.

    As I have often posted each QB/player has their strengths and weaknesses. The assumption made by those that believe Alex would have done better than Kaep do not consider two things. For one they pick the area’s that Alex is supposed to excel in and compare it to their examples that exaggerate and magnify Kaeps perceived weaknesses. Making reads. Every QB has games when they make mistakes with reads but those are ignored if they have a rep for not doing so. While they do this sort of biased pick and chose evaluation they also ignore the positive qualities that Kaep brings to the table. In this case the plays that Kaep made which won the games that got them into the Super bowl that Alex would have never been capable off.

    The other main variable that is always left out is that the run of good fortune that exemplified the 2011 season began to run out during the latter half of the 2012 season. During the 2012 season many players had career years that they never repeated. Special teams was excellent and gave the Niner’s great position (losing Ginn to injury was a major factor in their loss to the Giants). The defense was at their peak. They set a new NFL record for take away turn over ratio. The next season it dropped by 19. Except for Ginn they had no major injuries. Ginn was their first impactful injury. That trend seemed to steamroll the next season with the injuries to Williams, Manningham, Hunter and the Smith bros. Also because of the groin injury our kicker went from a career year to a dismal season. Aikers was money in the bank in that 2011 season. A major key to putting points on the board and with the dominant defense enough to insure wins.

    They effect of losing Hunter can not be overplayed. Gore had to carry the load and was worn down before the end of the season. If the team did not have that easy last game and the bye week he would not have been able to recover for the playoffs. The effect of losing Aldon and Justin is reflected in the statistical change. After Cowboy was injured the Niner’s defense gave up 29+ points per game. Not the kind of situation for a game manager. The team started their downward spiral during the middle of the 2012 season and it was in area’s not affected by who was behind center.

    The 2011 season was a “perfect storm” with everything falling into place till Ginn’s injury. Luck often Trumps talent. Realistically it couldn’t continue and that was manifest by the everything going wrong that followed being through injuries or bad officiating.

    People remember that Ginn getting injured and Williams two fumbles were the difference and are what kept the Niners out of the Super bowl. Well the seem to forget the perfect storm and luck that that was necessary to get them to the NFC championship including NO knocking of GB. The Niner’s would have had to play them at their stadium to even get to the Giants.

    To review- The team Kaep took to the Superbowl and the NFC championship was not even close to the level of the 2011 team. It is a stretch to assume that Alex could have done the same. Just look at what has happened to Brady now that his offensive line has deteriorated. In the pocket QB’s need an offensive line that affords them protection and receivers that can get separation for them to utilize their skills. Some QB’s can get by with just one but no QB can function with out both. The success of a team begins and ends with the line play on both offense and defense. And the offensive line play has been horrible in both aspects – run blocking and pass protection. None of this is being considered by those wanting to evaluate our QB play.

    1. Best line in the article.

      He knows even less than the local writers that are there each day. Even writers that love to stir the pot, such as Tim Kawakami and Lowell Cohn aren’t reporting discord in the 49ers locker room. What does that say?

      1. There is discord in the 49er locker room. When you aren’t winning games and important parts of the roster are injured and or on suspension, you have problems. If everyone is winning there are no probs, or they are easily overlooked. That simple.

        1. Mary how do you know? Its not simple. We have the same record we did this time last year. My point with the quote was if the local beat writers are in the locker room every day why aren’t they reporting it? Those local beat writers are not easy on the 49ers. There may be 2-3 players but that’s different than losing the locker room. Every team has some players that are disgruntled. I think if Deon said there are 2-3 veterans who aren’t happy there’s no issue here.

          Again what about last year when Sherman was addressing the media because of the PED suspensions. Was Caroll loosing the locker room? Was there discord? The media loves this stuff.

          1. Thurmond and Brownier are no longer on the roster. We seem to get rid of people who are hurting the team you don’t.

          2. Now don;t change the subject. Did you read the ESPN article, they just mentioned it on national TV. That is assuming you’re watching your team. Educate yourself!

            1. Not changing the subject just pointing out there are wholes in the story and that the same kinds of thing could be applied your way. Just because its mentioned nationally doesn’t make it true. Again, why aren’t the local guys reporting on it? Just out of town guys? I have read the article and there’s a great rebuttal because quite of few of Seth’s assumptions are not validated by local beat writers in the locker room.


              Educate yourself or believe whatever you’re fed.

              1. Wilson73: That was uncalled for and I apologize. Whenever anyone starts the PED discussion I bristle — because it’s a league-wide problem. But since 2010 (and I have not checked the lists for 3 mo.) only about 1 one team has NOT had a suspension and that’s the 49ers. With your team issues with the law that is hard for me to wrap my brain around and I’m a total cynic . But oh well. Hell, they even rewrote the rules for Wes Welker.

                I read the article you attached trying to explain the original article. I found it more chaotic than the first. This is what I think. Each day I am grateful that Paul Allen owns our team, that Pete Carroll is the head coach and developer/teacher of talent on and off the field who creates a wonderful environment for that talent to flourish and that John Schneider finds the talent for Pete Carroll and that they all get along!

  20. Didn’t everyone see this article coming from a mile away? Also, people are forgetting that Grant predicted that Harbaugh would give the job to Kaepernick in the 2012 season. Grant also extolled all of Kaepernick’s virtues, while slamming Smith for being a limited game manager who wouldn’t get them the SB title. He also wrote an article discussing Kaepernick as a Super Favre in terms of arm and legs.

    Now everything has gone down the memory hole (read “1984”, Grant). Kaepernick is just a tease and Smith was better all along. I guess we’re no longer at war with Eurasia and we’re fighting Eastasia now. Time to throw all evidence of the Eurasian war down the memory hole.

    1. Grant also wrote an article about who the best young qb would be: luck, Wilson, cam newton, and Russell Wilson. And I think grant said he would take kaep.

  21. Lol
    Smith wouldn’t have thrown 3 ints vs chi…. But he already has this year and did the same vs NY.. THE GAME that sealed his fate.
    Boy you have a lot of what ifs. It’s your opinion. I get that. But my problem with some of what you think is the details in the comparison. Like Alex smith did not play vs the NFC west the best and hardest division in the league. Defenses that were top of the league. Strike one on the pro bowl call.
    Alex smith couldn’t beat a playoff caliber team. Ck has and does it on the road.
    You continue to use the farce that is qbr. But refuse to pull out the YAC stats and ypt. What a joke.

    You bring up smiths numbers in the post season. Well smith never went to Seattle in the playoffs, never went to fridged GB, never went to atl to play the hottest team in the league with the #1 seed. No. Alex smith got a horrible defense vs NO. Spotted 5 turnovers and STILL had to come back to win. (Great memory btw) then he faced the only tough defense he’s seen in the playoffs the week after… We all know how that went. Ignoring Crabtree being wide open most of the game and overthrowing Williams for an easy TD that probably would have sealed the game. Then he gets another horrible defense in Indy. Gets shutdown in the 3rd and AGAIN overthrows a wide open receiver down the sidelines that would have definitely sealed the game.

    Sorry dude. Alex smith wouldn’t last vs these defenses in the past two years in our division. 2012 was the best all around team we had. And he didn’t even make the Super Bowl. St, defense and running game haven’t been matched since. Yes ck screwed us in the Seattle game, but he and he alone kept us in the game with a lead. You don’t mention Iupoti going down and how we stopped and couldn’t run after that injury. Yeah smith might not have turned the ball over, but he damn sure wouldn’t have helped us score like ck did with his legs.
    And now you want us fans to think about it? Sorry youngster but you’re the guy who picked Dallas last year and last I checked you have never been named coach of the year, and has taken your team further with “your qb” after benching the starter. I agree sometimes with your opinion, but this is one of those, “I’ll throw the numbers up and ignore actual success” pieces. That are so far whacked it has to be a pot stirring article. I seriously laughed at this. Thx

    1. Fortunately for us Alex does play the NFC west this year so we’ll get to see how he plays against such stout defenses.

      You guys have to know Grant doesn’t care. He’s a hit and run journalist on these pieces. He drops the bomb and takes off. He’s not interested in engaging or even dialoguing towards something. Its bit like how Fan77 already has decided he dislikes Kap and no amount of stats or persuading will change his mind. He can dislike Kap, its a free country and Grant can say whatever he wants.

      I may move on, not sure its worth reading when there are so man other options out there. Vote with your feet or to his boss.

    2. The AFC West is right there with the NFC West and had 3 teams in the playoffs last year.

  22. Grant Sez:
    ” ….Look at the facts. Smith made the Pro Bowl last season. Kaepernick didn’t. Kaepernick has made zero Pro Bowl teams…..”

    Really .. ? .. and how many years has Alex been playing ..
    u-hhhh … ya kno … BEFORE
    he finally made the Pro Bowl … ?

    Quite possibly, Grant … if you do the math ..
    you just might come up with a very telling stat !

    Speaking of stats, Grant … research this one =>

    How long did it take Alex to throw his first TD ..?

    …. And how long did it take Kaep to accomplish the
    same feat .. ?

    OMG !! …. I can’t believe it …

    Hanging around here … and I’m becoming
    a stat junkie !!
    (who woulda thunk ?)

    No … there was a consensus of Niner Faithful ..
    (back in 2005) .. who believe that Mike No-nothing
    picked the wrong QB …

  23. Grant …..

    I challenge you to answer this one …
    (if you can) ….

    Alex had been playing NINE years
    BEFORE he got to the Pro Bowl … right ?

    Well …

    Why is it fair … to .. NOT .. give
    Kaep the same amount of time to get there ?

  24. Only way to stop this guy from writing something like this is stop reading his blog. ..Not sure if he is compensating based on comments ..

    1. Yep. As a famous racer once said, “you can cheer me or boo me, but you’re still paying to see me.”

      1. Jack, do u write articles on your blog daily? This blog is getting, and has been disheartening for a long time now. Its getting to the point where i would rather have bill williamson from espn!

        1. Steele,

          Not every day. Usually 2 or 3 a week, but there’s a bunch of good content there from others as well.

          BTW, the webzone is not my blog. It’s run by someone else and I am simply a contributor.

  25. This Harbaugh stuff just won’t go away. Now they are saying he started to lose the players after he tried to pursue Manning and lied to Alex.

    1. Ya know, Ditka was a lightning rod like Jim is. Funny that it came full circle since Jim and Mike had a publicly volatile relationship back in the day.

  26. Grant , while i dont always agree with you or your opinion , i always respected you. After this crap of an article.. Not so sure anymore.

  27. Fourth down, 5 seconds left in the game, 99 yards to go, SF 27 KC 21, Smith drops back and throws a quick slant to AJ Jenkins, he eludes two tacklers and is off to the races, the 50, 40, 30, 20, 10, the five……..Grant sits up in bed cold sweat running down his face, no it couldn’t be, beaten by Alex and AJ Freaking Jenkins. Go back to sleep Grant.

    Just got back from a month long prospecting trip. Hit the best pocket in my life, almost two ounces, I can retire now, oh wait I am retired!

    1. UC … Welcome back, dude ! .. congrats !

      Hey .. I’d like to tell you that you missed a lot .. but
      you’ve been around long enough to know better ! .. ;-)

      1. Thanks MW, I watched the Dallas game yesterday CK looked good, cant believe we lost to the Bears and the Cardinals. I was figuring on 3-1 with a loss to the Eagles, just goes to show how much I know.

  28. I was going to respond to the content of the article, but I’m going to think better of it and refrain.

    It’s just silly how so much of the media wants to paint this next game as some kind of referendum on the Smith/Kaepernick switch. That’s ridiculous. It’s a team game. Whoever wins today will do it as a team.

    The QBs will play their role, but in my opinion the far more interesting matchups today are in the running game and defense. I believe that whoever stops the run wins the game.

    Although we’re favored (and rightfully so), KC has the tools to be capable of beating us. If their running game gets going, backed up by an efficient short passing attack (and it’s Alex Smith; that’s what he does), it could be a tough, hard fought game. I want to see early stops on D, and early scores on offense to make them play from behind.

    Looking forward to what should be a good game.

    1. The voice of reason, Euclidite…

      h-mmmm … seems a bit out of place around here,
      doesn’t it ?

  29. Picking apart Kaepernick is an easy task. And considering whether he’s progressed in the last 2-3 seasons is worthwhile, too. But comparing Smith and Kaep is not only old news, but it’s not as clear-cut as Grant makes it seem.

    This article is so indicative of Grant’s writing style and lacking journalistic integrity, it hurts. Only the facts needed to make his point are used, totally disregarding those that counter his thesis; everything’s sensationalized; and it’s clear his posts are meant to elicit a reaction from its readers, not produce quality content. I sure hope this isn’t the making of his resume/portfolio to springboard him to a bigger/better gig.

    It’s becoming clear that I return to this blog more for the discussion and insight from the readers (most, not all) than I do to read quality write-ups on the Niners.

  30. Today’s winner will be the team that
    – Makes clean tackles on D
    – Avoids negative yardage plays, 3rd-and-longs on O

  31. There goes Luck, another interception. I could have caught that one. This is not a great game.

    1. Out of all the young QBs, Luck is asked to do the most. He’s also proven to have thick skin, shakes it off, and shows the leadership qualities to bring a team back from the dead.

      1. Fansince77: Look at the stats I posted on Luck below — I don’t know that he is asked to do more. He’s got a good team. Pls explain to me how he is asked to do more. Tks.

        1. Mary:They are operating under the assumption that Luck took a with a 2-14 record the previous season to the playoffs. They are not considering that the Colts pretty much tanked that season so they could get the first pick ( Luck ) to replace Manning. They were in the playoffs the season before that when they had more than a stiff for a QB. Luck is good but not good enough to take a legit 2-14 team to the playoffs.

    1. Not a bad move by Jed to spell it out. I loved Crabs’ too: “…..we good over here.”

  32. So it appears one of Deion Sanders’ ‘inside sources’ is none other than an old and washed up diva that used to play for the team.

    And we’re supposed to believe a guy that whined his way out of New England, griped about his playing time during the Super Bowl media week, and was the reason why Kaep had an interception in during the Super Bowl thanks to his ‘attempt’ to catch a pass alligator arming it? Give me a break.

    1. We know that Baalke and Harbaugh interviewed Randy before they hired him, and likely spelled out their expectations of him and for him. But even though he was an unrestricted free agent, Randy apparently didn’t interview Harbaugh. Randy didn’t do his homework and then decided he didn’t like the atmosphere. Crocodile tears.

    2. My CYO basketball coach (St. Rose) “lost the team” when he drove to the wrong city with the starters in the car.

      We 2nd+3rd stringers showed up at the right city (somewhere in Marin). The officials refused said we would forfeit the game if we didn’t play. We took a straw pol, suited up and had a great time. I was the “coach” (at the age of 9) and made sure the bench warmers got minutes and took shots. We lost by a point, but had a good time.

  33. Many people say the Colts don’t have very good team around him and Luck carries the team: I call BS. The Colt defense allows 23.8 pts p/game and Seahawks allow 22 and Ravens (are among the best allowing 15. The Colts put up more pts than anyone else p/game 34 so his oline must be holding up.

    RWilson does have a higher completion % than Luck (just barely) and throws less interceptions. Kaepernick is right there with his comp.% ahead of ASmith BTW. They have a couple of RB and MLynch is sandwiched in between stat-wise. It doesn’t look like the Colt’s are suffering. Enlighten me if I am missing something.

  34. My wife was talking to one of her girl friends about how her mom always pushes her buttons. Her freind leaned over and said “Of course she does , she installed those buttons”
    Sounds silly doesn’t it.
    Guess for some here, their mom is Grant!

  35. I haven’t read all the comments so apologies if this has been covered…

    Grant: please right an article explaining how in 2 years you can go from lauding Jim’s bold move to trashing it. Were you wrong then or wrong now? How can you expect anyone to take you seriously, as anything more than a hack, troll with this. We all read your words 2 years ago about how Alex was mediocre. Now you believe he was the answer all along?

    We are laughing at you Grant because this is a joke.

  36. Kaepernick has more upside than Smith. Kap has to read defenses better and get a better feel for his receivers. The jury is still out. That said, I think getting rid of Smith was the better decision.

  37. In the history of the NFL, only Montana was better than Alex. OK, maybe Shaun Hill too.

  38. I realize writers need to stir the pot and say controversial things to get the conversation going and ads seen. But a shockingly dumb one like this can stick with a guy.

    Yesterday couldn’t possibly have been a better showcase as to why Alex is gone. Even with Colin’s obvious worts, his playoff success on the road and obvious upside into the future make him the obvious choice. No GM or coach would take Alex over Kap. We already know Alex’s limitations, so obvious in yesterday’s game. It’ll be tough to take this writer seriously on any Niner topic after this sellout of a piece.

  39. The irony in all of this is that Grant said he prefers Alex Smith over Colin Kaepernick because Smith doesn’t make those 4th quarter turnovers to lose games.. and that’s exactly what happened, another high deep pass from Alex Smith seals a team’s fate, just this time it isn’t the Niners.

    I think Grant forgot to talk about Smith’s inability to make big plays at all.. Colin Kaepernick can make big plays, with his arm or legs.. that’s why Harbaugh chose him. You’ve got a great team, and a mediocre QB holding them back.. Harbs made the right choice, didn’t payoff immediately, but it will eventually. Kap is still young and erratic, but when it puts it all together and is consistently good/great.. he’s going to be near unstoppable. Right now, the only thing stopping Kap is inexperience and himself.. once that’s out of the way, he’s going to be unguardable.

  40. Why the hell are you guys hating on Kaepernick? He’s the best damn quarterback I’ve seen in a long time, play for my Niners. He’s currently ranked 3rd, Russell Wilson and Peyton Manning are first and second, and besides, he’s really freaking CUTE! I don’t see why you guys hate him so much. Face it, he’s just better that Smith all together! NOW SHUT THE HELL UP AND QUIT HATING ON HIM!

  41. Can you moronic Niners fans admit what a terrible mistake your franchise made yet? Kaepernick will be out of the league in a year or two and Smith will probably play another 7 years. You don’t bench a player because of injury and this is a prime example as to why. The 49ers were so close to another dynasty and they squandered it. Don’t get mad at this writer for telling it like it is.

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