I admit I'm an Alex supporter so it's hard for me to tell if I'm letting my emotions get in the way of my analysis...what do you guys think, am I reading too much into this, or does word choice have an impact? Here's what I posted on my blog today:
By announcing today that Colin Kaepernick will start this week against the Rams, Jim Harbaugh took a risk. There’s no more uncertainty around Smith’s health, so this can’t be seen as anything other than a promotion of Kaepernick to the starting role. Yet Harbaugh has the audacity to call Smith “our guy,” while saying Kaepernick will get the start. It doesn’t add up.
Harbaugh has been a vocal supporter of Smith the past year and half, but it’s hard to see this as genuine now. If he’s saying Smith is “our guy” when he’s not “the guy,” then why should we believe Harbaugh meant what he said in the past?
The evidence clearly exists that winning in the NFL takes more than a collection of talent, e.g. the Cowboys, Lions and Chargers. To win, a team has to combine talent with buying into the system, e.g. the 49ers, Bucs, and Colts. Emotion can be a factor, and if some of the 49ers start to question Harbaugh’s sincerity, that could lead to some problems.
Now I’m not saying this will definitely happen to the Niners, and if it has started it can still be fixed. At the very least Harbaugh needs to come out in full support of both his quarterbacks not in the roundabout, wordy way he’s been doing it, but in clear English. He needs to say “Alex Smith is a good quarterback and we appreciate everything he’s done for the team. We believe we can win a Super Bowl with him. But as tough as it is to make a change, especially at this point in the season and given the circumstances of how it happened, the reality is that Colin Kaepernick can improve our offense and in this league, you have to take every perceived advantage you have, even if it’s a marginal upgrade. So we will go with him as the starter. If Colin gets hurt, we have full confidence that we can still win with Alex.”
If Harbaugh were to say that, I think the fans, media and players would respect the decision even if they don’t agree with it. The players would know that Harbaugh tells it like it is, and they don’t have to try interpret his words. But as it stands now, Harbaugh is playing a word game while he risks losing credibility.