Can we now finally put the Colin Kaepernick vs. Alex Smith issue to rest? We can now finally put the Colin Kaepernick vs. Alex Smith issue to rest.
Kaepernick passed and dashed by an overwhelmed Green Bay defense, posting 444 total yards and four touchdowns, as the 49ers ran away from the Packers, 45-31, Saturday night at Candlestick Park, securing a spot in the NFC championship and one win away from the Super Bowl. Kaepernick’s 181 rushing yards were the most all-time for a quarterback in the single game, postseason or regular season.
But Kap didn’t need to break records or have a big game on a big stage to prove Jim Harbaugh made the right decision to stick with him after Smith went down seeing stars. It’s always been the right decision. Saturday was just the kill shot, as if Kaepernick was hearing the Mortal Kombat voiceover guy pronounce “Finish him” all game long.
And yet, some people (we’ll call them dorks) haven’t been so willing to make such an obvious declaration. Adding to the drama was a palpable sense of doubt among 49ers fans after Kap displayed some early-game jitters.
Almost immediately after Kaepernick threw that pick-six at the beginning of the game, a Niners fan friend of mine texted me, perhaps half-jokingly, calling for Alex Smith to be put in the game, almost as if I have some red phone nearby that’s direct line to Jim Harbaugh’s headset on the sideline. I’m certain that same angst crept into red-and-gold-clad fans’ emotions, as well. Indeed, Kaepernick looked shaky at the start of his first playoff game. He was missing targets and looked uncomfortable in the pocket, and the pick-six was a harsh by-product of both.
Of course, Smith is the more experienced 49ers quarterback for the playoffs. But you don’t think Jim Harbaugh doesn’t know that? Kap played pretty well in the last half of regular season, his first into NFL starter-dom. The fact remains that Kaepernick gives the 49ers more options on offense and forces defenses to adjust their gameplans. For better or worse, he’s Harbaugh’s guy for precisely that reason.
And what do you know. Kaepernick responded to the pick-six by scrambling left with no passing options open for a 20-yard touchdown to tie the game.
And then Kaepernick was responsible for another 49ers touchdown, and then another, and then another. He had four touchdowns Saturday. After the third one Alex Smith probably put his house on the market.
So, now that that’s settled, maybe everybody should focus their efforts on other, more-pressing roster matters. Like the breathtaking drama that is David Akers vs. Billy Cundiff.