Thursday, November 22, 2012

Has The Torch Been Passed? Pump The Breaks.

According to a tweet from Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated, Jim Harbaugh informed Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick that Kaepernick will be the starting quarterback for the 49ers on Sunday afternoon in New Orleans.  The reports also state that this will be the case regardless of whether Smith is cleared or not.

This news set the 49ers world buzzing.  Is this the end of the road for Alex Smith in San Francisco?  There is no turning back now! The talking heads on the networks are second guessing the move, they can't understand it.

There is one slightly important piece of information that all of this is missing, Alex Smith has not yet been cleared to play.  The move to name Kaepernick the starter now, which is still unconfirmed, makes sense on a number of levels.  This is a short week to prepare for a very difficult opponent, made even shorter by the Thanksgiving holiday, and a 3+ hour plane trip to New Orleans.

This development does not mean that the keys have been handed over to Kaepernick permanently.  Nothing has really changed, yet. In many ways this is no more than another opportunity for Jim Harbaugh to see what he has in Kaepernick, and for the first time in a hostile environment.  If Smith does receive clearance this week, and Kaepernick goes out and lays an egg, it will be very easy for Harbaugh to go right back to Smith the following week in St Louis and for the remainder of this season.

There is little evidence to show that Kaepernick will not perform well on Sunday.  He has performed very well every time he has been given a chance this year.  According to his teammates and coaches, Kaepernick has been very good in practice, during his shots in the preseason, and when given the opportunity to run the first team offense for extended periods the last 2 weeks.  All of the evidence points to another big day for Kaepernick on Sunday.

The final decision for Harbaugh is still to come, however the writing may be on the wall.

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