Obviously this wasn't Alex Smith's best game. It has been made a point that his play was pre-2011 Alex Smith play. He was overthrowing/underthrowing passes, throwing into coverage, and in general not making good decisions. And though all those are important things, the fault of the game plan lies with the passing game.
It is apparent that the passing game is the weakest part of this team. Yes, the team as a whole did not do well. The defense could not stop the run in the second half, special teams gave up some big runs, and our running game wasn't contributing as it normally does. But all those things tie into the passing game.
Alex Smith starts over Kaepernick for one reason alone and that is game experience. He plays because he has for lack of a better description, has seen it all. He knows what not to throw and he knows when not to gamble, I would argue his pass selection is conservative, and for good reason it prevents mistakes. And normally that is good enough. But when it comes time for the playoffs, assuming we make it, that isn't good enough. That was evident last year, with our 3rd down completion percentage and non-existent passing attack. Now Smith isn't the sole person responsible. There are always crucial drops by WRs and this game was no exception.
For the past 5 games Alex Smith has shown that experience and it has paid off. But the Giants game was definitely a regression of habits. And quite frankly, if this continues to happen then they need to give Kaepernick the ball.
Kaepernick's involvement has been an exact response to Alex Smith's shortcomings as a passer. Smith doesn't have the arm strength, the accuracy, or pocket presence to make the 49ers a deep ball threat, which is what they need. These all sound familiar because these were all used to describe Joe Montana. The many differences between them, the single contributing one is vision of the field. Smith has trouble seeing anything outside of the middle of the field (as the case for most QBs) unless it is a route that creates separation fade routes which he can hit to Vernon Davis as we are all accustomed to seeing. Randy Moss was brought in to be a deep ball vertical threat and that is when he is most useful and dangerous as again was apparent from his limited but effective receptions. Kaepernick is brought in to either run the wildcat to run or toss one downfield to Moss. Again confirmed through Smith's inability to make smart passing decisions behind the center. The time Smith can, or at least get a better feel of the field, is during the spread offense out of shotgun. And it becomes overly apparent when he plans to throw at that point. In terms of game planning, thats when you blitz you know its a throw.
With all this said, Smith still gives the 49ers the best chance to win. Like I said, he has the game experience. And as talented as Kaepernick is, his rookie habits where still apparent on plays. But all the misdirections and clever blocking schemes only work to a certain level before your passing game is forced to make plays. Vernon Davis is the only consistent threat at our passing game and when he is taken out, like he was during the Giants game, it forces the 49ers to get make other plays. It should be easier to, by reason alone, that should mean another person is open. Whether that person is being not seen due to field vision or properly utilized because of skill (deep threat/arm strength). If the defense takes away your TE through the center of the field and they know your QB can't throw the deep ball to a playmaker who can get open (Moss), what type of passes are left? 5-10 yard slants and outs, dump off passes, and screen passes. All of which, the 49ers utilize but again dropped passes and under/overthrown balls don't help it.
Kaepernick's wolfpack plays are brought in to give the 49ers those plays back. And it is effective. I think we can all safely say, if there was anything constructive and done right during that game, it was those offensive plays because the Giants assumed those options were not available and game planned around that. And the more the 49ers try to shy away from making those passing plays from the regular rotation, except when they are down 21 pts then we will see more games like this. The most effective offensive plan is one that has balance and can attack the field at all levels, deep balls, screen passes, 5-10 yard slants/In/Outs and fades utilizing our TEs which we do well. The 49ers are good at creating this balance with our running game. Using misdirection and shifting blocks to create lanes. But that is only half the offensive planning.
This game is a wake up call and I think its needed. Very few teams play at a top level from the beginning of the season to the end. Look at the Packers last year and Patriots in their perfect regular season. The teams that do the best are the teams that figure out the 2nd half of the season and make adjustments. The Giants last year were that team. And with that momentum it carried them into the playoffs and to the Superbowl. The NFC championship game, as all playoff games, was which team minimized their mistakes. Unfortunately, the 49ers were outlasted. But the season is barely half done and there is time for the 49ers to figure out a solution to these weaknesses and turn them into strengths. The coaching and players are smart, talented, and capable of it. I like everyone else who is a true 49ers fan are waiting and cheering for it when it happens.
Faithful. 49ers fan 100%, Win, Lose, or Tie.