Alex Smith: Starting Veteran QB Won't Solve 49ers' Problems Down the Stretch

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistDecember 3, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - NOVEMBER 11:  Quarterback Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up before a game against the St. Louis Rams on November 11, 2012 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California.  Smith left the game with a concussion in the second quarter.  The teams tied 24-24 in overtime.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Contrary to popular opinion, Alex Smith does not give the San Francisco 49ers the best chance to win.

Alex Smith is what he is—a game manager. He won't lose games for the 49ers, but he's not going to put the team on his back and lead them to victory either.

Right about now, you are furiously scrolling down to the comment section to rip that last statement to shreds, pointing to Smith's performance against the New Orleans Saints in the playoffs last year.

I'm well aware of the way Smith led the 49ers to victory in that game, but it's important to keep something in mind: He did that against a New Orleans Saints defense that ranked 30th in the NFL against the pass.

It's not like he pulled that off against the staunch pass defenses of the Pittsburgh Steelers or Chicago Bears.

On a team that has weapons that many quarterbacks would kill to have at their disposal—Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis, Randy Moss and Mario Manningham—Smith has managed only 13 touchdown passes and picked up only 1,731 yards.

But Rick, Smith has more experience than Colin Kaepernick. Experience is more important than talent for this team down the stretch. Kaepernick's lack of experience cost the 49ers the game against the Rams on Sunday.


The 49ers lost that game because of David Akers' inability to kick a field goal, not because of the rookie mistakes that the sophomore Kaepernick made.

Lest we forget, Kaepernick led the team with 84 rushing yards on a day when Frank Gore couldn't get going, putting the 49ers in position to put points on the board.

Smith wouldn't have scrambled all over the field to make plays when there wasn't an open receiver. He would have thrown the ball out of bounds.

It's true, as ESPN's Adam Schefter notes that Smith leads the NFL in completion percentage.

Guess which QB leads the NFL in completion percentage this season: Alex Smith at 70 percent, 2.3 percent higher than Peyton Manning.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 2, 2012

But completing short passes against the NFL's elite teams isn't going to get the 49ers to where they want to be.

The 49ers need a QB who can throw the ball down the field, someone who will make opposing defenses respect their passing game, which in turn gives players like Gore more room to do their thing on the ground.

Kaepernick makes the 49ers a more dangerous and versatile offense than Smith ever could.

San Francisco needs a playmaker under center—they don't need this generation's version of Trent Dilfer.

Smith needs to stay where he is, firmly planted on the sidelines with a clipboard in his hand.