My response to what I've heard from Alex Smith partisans

So I surfed over to Niners Nation yesterday after the game, angling for a little catharsis after a depressing loss in a game we needed to take some pressure off the team down the home stretch of the season. What I found instead was a generalized state of hysteria and many Alex Smith partisans saying things that had me scratching my head.

Note that I don't write a lot of fanposts, think I have one other, and wouldn't be doing this if it weren't for the breadth of the misinformation and unfair judgments I was reading on the game threads yesterday. This post is specifically to address the most objectionable arguments I heard from people promoting the 'Alex Smith should be starting' line.

Sunday’s game was not entirely Kaepernick’s fault

Kaepernick made two mistakes against the Rams that cost the team dearly; the controversial safety, and the horrible option pitch play. But only those with a preset agenda (read: committed Alex Smith partisans) could conceivably blame him entirely for the loss. In truth, Kaepernick still played well enough for us to win the game, and indisputably so given that the game came down to dueling 50+ yard field goals.

So let’s review the help Kaepernick had in making yesterday a sad one for us fans (or at those of us that weren’t rooting for the team to lose badly, as several Smithies on this site admitted to doing last week):

1) First and foremost, Greg Roman and whomever else was responsible for the overly conservative, gimmicky but yet predictable and ultimately just plain horrible offensive gameplan/playcalling. Special mention goes to:
a. Gore up the middle for minus one yard followed by a Kaepernick draw from 1st and goal in the early 4th quarter, leaving a difficult 3rd and goal from the 9 that Kaep couldn’t convert.
b. Gore up the middle on 2nd and 20 toward the end of regulation just as we got into field goal range, killing any chance at conversion.
c. Gore up the middle on 1st and 2nd down in overtime, just after we had gotten into field goal range on the strength of Kaepernick’s arm, (and long after the Rams had utterly shut down our rushing attack).
d. The 3rd down play on the same drive in OT wherein Roman grudgingly recognized the need to pass, but called a designed rollout left. For a right handed quarterback. ???
e. The pitch option on a very convertible passing down deep in their own territory because Harbaugh/Roman didn’t want to risk an incomplete pass or, ironically, an interception. Never mind how difficult that play is to execute, how rarely it has been called or that the deep ‘back’ was a rarely played less than adept wide receiver in the backfield. Horrible.
f. Even the decision to start Jacobs, who can in no way replicate what Hunter brings to the offense, over James was highly questionable. Jacobs killed us nearly every time he touched the ball.
2) Breakdowns in pass blocking. The controversial safety came on a jail break, not due to free blitzers (though those didn’t help, because one was a db Kaep couldn’t outrun).
3) Bad run blocking, to some extent as a consequence of poor play calling, but also poor execution- not including Kaep, the rushing attack was only able to generate 64 yards on 27 carries. That’s less than a 2.4 yard average. Worse, the team managed only 24 yards on 20 carries after its lone touchdown.
4) Penalties in key situations. Again. The team had an Oakland Raiders-eque 11 penalties for 97 yards, killing drives in the 4th quarter and OT.
5) David Akers, as stated.
6) Delanie Walker’s drop gets special mention because a perfectly thrown pass is easier to catch than a 50 yard field goal. Even for Walker.

It is not obvious for all but the galacticly stupid that Alex Smith should be starting at quarterback, even if you ignore implications for 2013 and beyond.

Let’s be clear, Harbaugh is playing Kaepernick because his assessment is that Kaep is a better quarterback that gives the team a better chance to win. You may disagree with that judgment, and fans are right to question coaches and organizations, but you should keep a few things in mind while doing so:
1) You have never been an NFL quarterback
2) In all probability, you have never coached football at any level. In any case, you certainly haven’t been a very successful assistant and head coach at both the collegiate and professional level. You haven’t won coach of the year in the NFL.
3) You are likely not to be known as one of the most well credentialed quarterback gurus on the planet
4) Attendantly, you should consider refraining from characterizing the decision of whom to start between Kaepernick and Smith as ‘obvious’, and Harbaugh’s decision as ‘ridiculous’ or ‘beyond the pale’ or similar such dismissive sentiment.
5) You might also note the fact that many other fans and experts disagree with your take likely means it is not an obvious decision.
6) You’re likely to be a lot less smart than you think you are while you remain in denial of the foregoing

Relatedly, it would help your case, and make you seem more reasonable, if you showed some respect for the coach that has rescued the team we are ostensibly fans of from the depths of NFL oblivion and returned it to its rightful place at the upper echelons of the league, rather than slamming him in the worst terms possible.

The team is not throwing the season away, having a preseason, or otherwise unserious about its playoff run.

The decision to play Colin Kaepernick does not mean the organization is giving up on this season. In fact, the decision to play Colin Kaepernick is about this season, and our ability to win deep into the playoffs during it. Of course, Harbaugh may be basing his decision to go with Kaepernick on the belief that it will pay more dividends later than during the first few weeks, but it is still about this season.

It is probably also worth noting for those advancing the absurd argument that we have given up on the season or that we’re in the preseason or whatever, that Alex Smith is 6-2-1 as a starter this year, which while it equates to the same 66.7% win percentage Colin Kaepernick has as a starter this year (of course, CK has a higher loss %, but that has more to do with Zeurlien making his kick this time). So you really can’t get there from here.

Alex did not ‘play much better against the Vikings than Kaepernick played against the Rams’. Actually, it’s more like the opposite

The numbers are close, but Kaep has a clear advantage. To wit:

CK v. Rams..21/32.....208...6.5...0......0......1.......9-84...3-17...82.4...83.9
AS v. Minn...24/35.....204...5.8...1......1.......1.......4-26...3-13...52.9...81.1

Running game support: v. Minn 16-63-3.93, v. Rams 27-64-2.37
Penalties: v. Minn 6-60, v. Rams 11-97
3rd Down Stats (includes sacks, scrambles and turnovers, not rushing attempts):

3rd and...................AS.............................CK
less than 5............3/5 (60%).................4/6 (66.7%)
btw 5 and 10.........1/5 (20%)................2/6 (33.3%)
btw 10 and 15.......0/0 N/A...................1/3 (33.3%)
greater than 15....0/0 N/A...................0/3 (0%)
Total......................4/10 (40%)...............7/18 (38.9%)
2nd Half.................0/3 (0%).................3/7 (42.9%)
OT...........................N/A...........................1/3 (33.3%)

Obviously Kaep took that controversial grounding call, but Alex had the extra turnover, and Alex’s touchdown was a one yard toss, that would probably have been equalized had Roman called a pass instead of the run to Gore on the goalline.


I get it, there are a lot of Niner fans who don’t like Harbaugh’s decision, and may not like Harbaugh any more. These are people I disagree with, but fans are entitled to their opinions. They are not however entitled to their own facts. Hopefully this post clears up some of the nonsense that has made reading this site so annoying since yesterday.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors.

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