Heard a great interview with Chris Carter on ESPN this week. He called San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, “weird.”
“I’ve known Jimmy Harbaugh since I was at The Ohio State University and he was at Michigan,” Carter said. “I can tell you one thing about Jimmy. He’s weird. He’s just a weird guy.”
I’m not sure that’s why Harbaugh made the decision to go with Colin Kaepernick as his No. 1 quarterback this week against New Orleans, but there has to be some reason.
It’s not often that a team that was 6-2-0 under the obvious No. 1 quarterback, loses that quarterback to an injury and three weeks later, after the backup has, essentially, gone 1-0-1 (Kaepernick was at quarterback when the Niners couldn’t score in overtime against the Rams), suddenly steals the No. 1 job.
Usually it takes more than this: 27-for-40, 360 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Now, make no mistake, those are good numbers. A 67.5 per cent completion percentage is terrific and last week’s quarterback rating of 133.1 in the win against the Bears vaunted defense is a big deal.
But Alex Smith had just beaten division rival Arizona 24-3 and went 18-for-19 for 232 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and a quarterback rating of 157.1. When he was injured against St. Louis, he was seven-for-eight for 72 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions and a quarterback rating of 143.8. That means, he’s just gone 25-for-27 for 304 yards with four touchdowns, no interceptions and a quarterback rating of 150.6. He’s passing percentage in that stretch is 92.6. Huh?
Evidently, Harbaugh went to Smith and said, “I’m sorry, I’m going with Colin.” I’ll bet a whole pile of money that Cleveland, Jacksonville, Kansas City, St. Louis, Tennessee, the Jets, Buffalo, Philadelphia and Arizona – especially Arizona – would pay large amounts of legal tender to acquire Alex Smith. He is not exciting. Heck, he might be the dullest No. 1 quarterback of all time. But he wins and he doesn’t run over the football.
Now, I can understand a guy losing his job because of an injury if that guy is John Skelton or Matt Cassel. But Alex Smith? Are you kidding me? With those numbers?
Smith is 28. He’s in his eighth season in the league. During the last two seasons he has just started to get a chance to play and, along the way, has just started to understand how to win in the NFL.
Now, however, after going 19-5 as a starter, he has lost the No. 1 job because he got a concussion in a game in which he was the best player on the field at the time of his injury. That borders on the insane. If nothing else, it suggests that Jim Harbaugh is a hard guy to trust. Even if you win for this guy, it isn’t good enough.
According to Harbaugh, the decision to start Kaepernick ahead of Smith had nothing to do with Smith’s health. Harbaugh also said he didn’t think there would be a quarterback controversy as a result of his decision.
“To me, it’s the opposite of a controversy,” Harbaugh said. “I usually tend to go with the guy that has the hot hand and we have two quarterbacks that have a hot hand.”
This must be personal. After all, you have a guy who has gone 19-5 and in his last two starts had no turnovers, four TD passes, a completion percentage of 92.6, has a QB rating of 150.6, was 6-2 this season and 19-5 over the last two years. To bench that guy and say it has nothing to do with his health, is just personal.
Think about it. Kaepernick has had one start in the NFL – granted, it was a good one – and is a second-year quarterback. Smith has the NFL’s third-best passer rating and is No. 1 in completion percentage. Ouch!
“The way we view it right now is we have two quarterbacks that we’re confident in, that have won for us and we believe in,” he said. “To me, it’s the opposite of a controversy. A controversy is an argument between opposing points of view. This is a decision that will be made from a team aspect, coming from the same direction.”
One guesses that Harbaugh can always go back to Smith if Kaepernick falters this week against the worst passing defense in the NFL.
But If were Smith and his agent, I’d want out of San Francisco as quickly as humanly possible. When you’re numbers are that good and you lose your job after suffering an injury, you have absolutely no future with that team.