michael-garcia - November 29, 2012
San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said he'd go with the hot hand when it came time to decide which quarterback to start. Today he said that Colin Kapernick, after two straight wins as the starter, will get the go this week again when the Niners travel to St. Louis to take on the Rams.
It's kind of funny that Harbaugh chose to say today 'Colin, we believe, has the hot hand, we'll go with Colin.' It's like he had to use the exact wording he used when he originally didn't commit to either Kaepernick or Alex Smith right away after Smith's concussion. Despite a mid-season change at QB for a first place team, the 49ers are still a strong Super Bowl favorite. What that means for Smith's future is getting clearer by the day. He's gone after this year.
Smith has never lived up to his number one pick status, but he's at least improved over the last couple seasons. He was dealt a bad hand, getting different coaches and offensive coordinators throughout the early part of his career. Since Harbaugh came to San Francisco, he helped Smith become much more serviceable, even if it did give Smith the dreaded 'game manager' moniker.
Still, Smith should get some decent offers after the season is done and San Francisco decides that they don't want a backup quarterback making the eight million dollars that Smith is due next season. So who could use a guy like Smith? Plenty of teams. Jacksonville might be playing better with Chad Henne, but I wouldn't say he's better than Smith.
Kansas City isn't going anywhere with Brady Quinn, who has taken over for the soon-to-be-released Matt Cassel. They could draft a QB and still try to get Smith so they could groom whomever they pick. The Cardinals situation is a total disaster, and I'm sure Smith wouldn't mind staying in the division to try and get back at SF a couple times a year. The only question is if Smith would pull the trigger to throw downfield to Larry Fitzgerald like he should.
Staying in the NFC West, I'm not sure the Rams are totally sold with Sam Bradford as their guy. They have some talented young wide receivers in St. Louis, so maybe they'll let Bradford try to develop more chemistry with them, but they should be looking at some other options at this point.
I could also see Smith in a place like New England to backup Tom Brady. Brady can't play forever, even if it looks like it now, and Smith could learn a thing or two backing him up. Pittsburgh is also in desperate need of a quality backup, as the last couple of weeks have shown.
Then again, Kaepernick could have a bad game and Smith could get his job back. He did get the Niners within a few plays of the Super Bowl last year, after all.