Quarterback Alex Smith, who was San Francisco’s starter for last year’s successful season to the NFC Championship game and for the first half of this season was sidelined Monday night as the 49ers took on the Bears at Candlestick Park. He suffered a concussion after being hit hard in last week’s match up against the St. Louis Rams and was sidelined for the remainder of the game as well.
Backup QB Colin Kaepernick entered the game for Smith midway against St. Louis. He looked no more no less than average, even though his numbers seemed to shine. He threw 17 passes and completed 11 of them, going 11-17 in the air for 117 yards and picked up 66 yards on the ground. Now some may argue that he played an above average game, but he did not make enough plays to win the game and San Francisco ended up with a very disappointing tie.
But on Monday Night against one of NFC’s best teams, with an incredibly tough defense that can completely dominate a football game, Kaepernick looked nearly flawless. The Bears have had an amazing season defensively before coming into the Stick. They have forced the most turnovers in the league by playing hard-nosed, stingy football. Cornerback Charles Tillman, who is having himself a phenomenal season has continued to have success forcing fumbles by literally dropping his fist like a sledge hammer directly on the ball. The Bears’ best two linebackers – Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs – are having themselves a successful season once again. The veterans have a heavy impact on games in so many ways, and they do a lot of bluffs where they fake blitz then drop back into coverage, and it continues to confuse quarterbacks and give them a tough time. Then you have a handful dealing with Julius Peppers coming off that edge as good as anyone in the league and consistently inflicts pressure. This team hits very hard, they’re tough, and they’re a group of veterans who have done nothing but won football games throughout this year with a record of 7-2 before going up against San Francisco.
As I was saying, Kaepernick looked great. Or maybe that’s an understatement, as I mentioned he was near flawless. He was poised in the pocket, used his feet as a weapon, and threw the ball down field numerous times with pinpoint accuracy. After the game, Jim Harbaugh said there was a QB controversy, as he has now made a wise decision to play Kaepernick this week against the New Orleans Saints. It was obvious who Vernon Davis wanted under snap after Monday night’s blowout against a NFC contender. “I felt like somebody took the handcuffs off me,” Davis said after the 49ers’ 32-7 win over the Chicago Bears. Kaepernick certainly got his best player involved as start tight end Vernon Davis had 6 receptions for 83 yards and tacked on a TD as well. Alex Smith was struggling to get the ball in Davis’ hands which was a strong concern. Davis’ quote meant that someone was finally able to come out and initiate an offense that allowed them to get the ball down the field and make some impressive plays in the air which this team is clearly capable of doing with the weapons they have. Alex Smith is nothing more than a game manager and Coach Harbaugh runs a strict West Coast offense when he’s under snap.
Just to quickly revisit Kaepernick’s night, he had a QBR score of 97.5 out of 100, the fourth-highest for a 49ers starter over the past five seasons. The Bears are allowing a 24.2 QBR score this season, second-best in the NFL (Houston, 24.1). He went 16/23 in the air for 243 yards with 2 TD passes and no turn overs. Some of the throws he made were just mind boggling, as he continuously put the ball in perfect spots and was getting the ball down the field.
Coach Jim Harbaugh made a smart decision naming Colin Kaepernick the week 12 starter against Drew Brees and company at the Superdome. He looked great against the Bears and I think Harbaugh would of been an idiot to not give him another look. He hasn’t had time to prove himself, but I believe he will. Harbaugh made it clear that he is not starting Kaepernick due to Alex’s injury, he simply believes in Kaepernick’s abilities and wants to give him another shot. Kaepernick will have a very tough task in New Orleans at that roaring Superdome. This could make or break Kaepernick’s starting job in San Francisco.
For an opposing viewpont, please check out our other article: Why Alex Smith Deserves to Start at Quarterback