The Alex Smith era is officially over in San Francisco. For now, at least. 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh has declared second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick the team’s new starting quarterback heading into week 13, and the former Nevada star is expected to stick as the starter provided he performs well.
The move quiets down all the drama and controversy surrounding both quarterbacks and the entire franchise, and at the very least gives the 49ers a solid identity on offense moving toward their week 13 matchup with the NFC West divisional rival St. Louis Rams.
Oddly enough, Kaepernick entered mid-way through the team’s first meeting with the Rams only four weeks ago, after Smith sustained a concussion. Kaepernick played well, but the 49ers only managed a tie after playing through overtime. Kaepernick has played admirably since, as the 49ers have won two straight games against the Bears and Saints.
While Kaepernick undoubtedly helps open up the offense, has a livelier arm and is an overall more dynamic player, his inexperience could easily come back to haunt the 49ers. While Alex Smith certainly has his limitations, he’s turned into a very accurate passer in 2012 (70%), and had thrown 13 touchdowns to just five picks while guiding San Francisco to a 6-2 start.
Hey-o! Fantastic news for the fantasy owners who took a shot on Kaepernick holding onto the gig. It’s unlikely ‘Kaep’ gives the keys to the offense back to Smith again, and he’d have to implode badly to do so. Due to his big arm, athleticism and solid weapons around him, Kaep is a borderline top-10 option at quarterback going forward.