49ers quarterback Alex Smith just met with the media, which was his first chance to comment on head coach Jim Harbaugh's decision to start Colin Kaepernick this Sunday against the St. Louis Rams. Cam Inman and Matt Maiocco tweeted out some of his comments. Matt Maiocco is posting some more of the comments as well. For now, here are some of the tweets:
49ers QB Alex Smith on his demotion: "I mean, it sucks. I don't know what else to say."— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoCSN) November 29, 2012
#49ers Alex Smith: "It sucks... I feel the only thing I did to lose my job was get a concussion"— Cam Inman (@CamInman) November 29, 2012
Alex Smith had a sitdown w Jim Harbaugh when learnd of benching & didn't try to talk him out of it. "At this point what's talk going to do?"— Cam Inman (@CamInman) November 29, 2012
More Alex Smith: "It's such a great team, great locker room & something special is going on here. It's tough pill to swallow"— Cam Inman (@CamInman) November 29, 2012
There is absolutely no doubt that this sucks for Alex Smith. Whatever your thoughts are on him as a quarterback, this is a tough pill for anybody to swallow. Unfortunately, that's the nature of the business. While there are great relationships built in the NFL, it is also a cold-blooded business.
This situation in particular is pretty awkward because the 49ers had been winning with Alex Smith. It was not always in the manner some would prefer, but the team was winning football games. However, as Jim Harbaugh stated, in the two and a half games since Smith went down, Colin Kaepernick has been the hot hand. Was that enough to justify benching Smith? Or should I say, creating some kind of co-starter type of deal as it seems Harbaugh has done?
As big a fan of Smith as I am, this goes beyond "I feel the only thing I did to lose my job was get a concussion." Yes the concussion facilitated this change, but this goes beyond just losing a job to injury. As far as the interpersonal dynamics of how Harbaugh handled this, I am not surprised by it, but I am a bit disappointed in it. However, that goes as much to basic human nature and having feelings that go beyond, "49ers need to win Super Bowls and please me, right now."
From a purely football standpoint, attempting to strip away the obvious emotions involved, this is not a surprising move. Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke drafted Colin Kaepernick. If Harbaugh liked the direction Kaepernick was heading, and then saw him putting it together in the second half against the Rams, and then all the more so against the Bears, this move is not surprising. Yes, there is a significant gamble in making this move, but as someone pointed out on Twitter (I believe Kawakami), when Harbaugh is confident in a decision, he goes at it full bore.
In this case, he saw the upside of Colin Kaepernick, and whatever personal relationship he had with Alex Smith, he was going for the player he thought gives the 49ers the best chance to win. As Eric Branch pointed out, this is the same guy who cut Josh Johnson in the preseason and kept Scott Tolzien. Harbaugh once said he viewed Josh Johnson "like a beloved son." But if that son isn't the best option for a given role, Darwinism does indeed take over.
I agree with Alex Smith that this does suck to a certain extent. And while I view it as an awkward situation, if Harbaugh can keep the team united towards the goal of a Super Bowl, that's life. It's unfair, but nobody ever said life was fair.