Why Alex Smith Deserves to Start At Quarterback


Oct. 29, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback (11) Alex Smith against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The 49ers defeated the Cardinals 24-3. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Lost in the midst of the Colin Kaepernick success is Alex Smith’s hot hand and his recent success with the 49ers.

Before he went down with a concussion, Smith had a 20-5 record in his last 25 games (not including the playoffs or the game where he left early with a concussion). In his last two games, he had two incompletions, three touchdown passes and no interceptions. Oh, and he had a nine-game streak without throwing an interception against teams like the Giants, Packers, Saints, Lions and Seahawks.

Yet he’s being benched for Kaepernick.

Kaepernick went 16-for-23 with 243 yards and two touchdowns in his first NFL start against the Bears, and he was great. He made some great throws, kept the Chicago defense off-balance and engineered an easy, confidence-boosting win.

His mechanics aren’t perfect, and he isn’t as good at protecting the ball. But his start convinced Jim Harbaugh that Kaepernick is elite, and that he can do what Alex Smith apparently can’t do: take the 49ers to the Super Bowl.

Smith was capable of doing it in the 2012 playoffs. He threw five touchdowns and wasn’t intercepted in two playoff games, one that was one by the 49ers and one that should have been won by the 49ers.

Kaepernick is better at throwing on the run, but remember, he completed under 65 percent of his passes in 2010 at Nevada, in the mediocre WAC conference. He did a nice job protecting the ball, getting intercepted only eight times. But Smith has only been intercepted five times this year, and three of those picks were in one game.

Oh, and in 2011, he also got intercepted just five times in 18 games.

Smith is proven, and he is exactly what the 49ers need: a game-manager.

Frank Gore can run the ball. The 49ers’ defense can prevent opponents from scoring points. They score points, and hold opponents to a small number of points (most of the time). So, all they need is a guy who can protect the ball.

And Smith is that guy, while it’s hard to be sure if the inexperienced Kaepernick can avoid trying to do too much.

At times, it looked like he tried to take over by himself, and he did a nice job handling the load against a good Chicago defense. However, when teams are preparing for Kaepernick and studying him, they will exploit his weaknesses and harass him.

Teams know what Smith brings, and he won’t be fooled by any teams. He is an above-average quarterback, and you can tell because he has thrown just 10 interceptions in his last 29 games. Also, he has thrown 32 touchdowns in those games.

Adjusting to Kaepernick is going to take some work, and it would just help to stick with the guy who has completed 70 percent of his passes and provided everything the 49ers have needed. Smith is the best quarterback on the team, yet everyone is being fooled by a fluky performance from Kaepernick.

For an opposing viewpont, please check out our other article: Why Colin Kaepernick Deserves to Start at Quarterback