This isn't a Peyton Manning post, per se. Or really, at all. I'm not going to offer my thoughts on the potential that he could be a 49er. For one, it's not going to happen, so why bother (/prepares to eat my words)? But I also want to play a sort of prediction game with you all.
After hearing the news about the Colts-Manning divorce, I took a shower and shaved, because I was going downtown later to meet up with a few guys to read some Julius Caesar, and well, Caesar demands that sort of hygiene, I suppose. While shaving, I had two major thoughts: 1) Ouch, Wes, that hurt. Stop cutting your face. And, 2) I think Colin Kaepernick will be the long term QB of this team.
The thought sort of surprised me. I was obviously thinking about Mr. Manning and what he could bring to this team, but at what cost and for how many years, blah blah blah. I was surprised, however, that my brain went from "long-term QB" to "Colin" so quickly.
I guess there is a sort of subconscious part of me that still thinks of him as the go-to guy for the future of this franchise, and that manifested itself subito. This incipient thought of shaving boredom has turned into a sort of consuming question for me, and I want you all to participate in this thought experiment.
So, here are the rules. In the comment section, just post a name. Whatever your gut instinct is - who cares. My gut went straight to CK, and I was able to rationalize after the fact. So, just write a name down without thinking. Then, sit there for a minute and try to realize why your gut (with all of its nerve-endings) went with this name. Now, enlighten us. Don't try and justify why this is the best choice for the 49ers, but why your gut made its decision.
Or, if this is boring, you can just ignore it and talk about Peyton Manning or something. Those still interested, follow me after the jump. I'm going to explain my reasoning briefly.
First off, regarding Peyton Manning, or any other Free Agent for that matter, as the QB of the future just doesn't make sense to me. Look at the Raiders: the Carson Palmer trade was just atrocious. I mean, horrible. That organization is completely hamstrung because of it. They're in tatters.
And here's the thing: Palmer is old. He ain't going to be around for a long time. He might play for another 8 years, if very lucky, and that means he plays until the age of 40. Pretty much by definition, a big Free Agent signing is not a QB of the future move. Thus, I don't think we can think of Peyton as a potential QB of the future type.
Now in regards to Alex Smith. There are two ways to think about Alex. You can look at his career and see that last year really was an anomaly, to a degree. I don't think anybody will deny that this last season was a career year for the guy. The challenge comes in interpreting this spike in production.
The first way is to say that his career year was just that, a career year, and that more than likely he will regress to meet his career average. Or, you can take the second road, and argue that this last year is unique due to his pairing with Jim Harbaugh, and that it serves as a clear "breaking out" moment for Alex. This scenario presupposes that he can continue to improve under the tutelage of Coach Harbaugh.
I'm inclined to look at it with a mix of both, but I won't deny that I am more firmly in the first camp. The clearest indication for me is the five interceptions he threw this year. That sort of production just isn't sustainable. If he keeps it up, it's because he is just too cautious with the ball. We converted zero third downs last season. Don't look it up. It's true.
A large part of this is because Alex didn't throw farther than five yards downfield successfully. It worked because we had an awesome defense that could dominate the turnover battle. That, again, just isn't sustainable. Frankly, and this is with all due respect to Alex and the season he had, but I need to see another year or two or increased production before I am willing to move on from the opinion that he is a slightly better than average QB. I'm not fine with that as the answer long term. Sure, he earned a couple more years - maybe even something like four more if the team continues to do damage in the playoffs- but unless things improve, I want the team to have a better long term plan.
So, Colin Kaepernick gets it by default. It doesn't hurt that he is exceptionally athletic, has shown flashes upon flashes when given opportunities, and he was the QB I wanted the 49ers to draft last offseason. I also think that given Harbaugh's talent with QBs this kid has every chance to reach his full potential. Who knows? We may be thanking Alex in the future, someday, for being the guy who allowed Colin to develop.
And for the record, I hope I'm totally wrong about Alex. I like the guy a lot and if he comes back next year, tears it up, and wins a Super Bowl I would be very happy. You hear that, Alex? No pressure.