COHN: 49ers' QB transition may be done deal already

  • Colin Kaepernick scrambles away from Stephen Paea for a short gain. The San Francisco 49ers beat the Chicago Bears, 32-7, on Monday, November 19, 2012.

    (John Burgess/The Press Democrat)


Let the quarterback controversy begin.

Colin Kaepernick should be the 49ers' starting quarterback and Alex Smith should not. Kaepernick must be the starter — it's obvious — and if Jim Harbaugh goes back to Smith out of misplaced loyalty or just plain stubbornness, he is making the mistake of his life.

San Francisco 49ers vs. Chicago Bears


But I don't believe Harbaugh will go back to Smith. I firmly believe the transition from Smith to Kaepernick already happened, as in done deal. After the game, Harbaugh was asked if Kaepernick is his starting quarterback going forward.

"We'll see," Harbaugh replied.

For Smith, that was the reply of death. It was Harbaugh's chance to say Smith still is his quarterback, to endorse him. Harbaugh chose not to.

"We'll make that decision as we go forward," Harbaugh said.

He said he will ride the quarterback with the hot hand. Considering Smith had no hand in the Bears game and barely a hand in the Rams game, only one hand is red hot and it belongs to Kaepernick.

Kaepernick demolished the Bears, leading the Niners to a 32-7 win. But you already know that. He wrecked one of the elite defenses in the NFL and, although he had help from 10 other guys on offense, he was the engine that made the Niners' Ferrari run. He was. And in case you're wondering what the car was in the Smith days — they seem so long ago — it was a Toyota Corolla.

Kaepernick led his team to scores on their first four possessions. The 49ers scored 10 points in the first quarter. All that is significant. In the long ago Alex Smith Era, the Niners often didn't score in the first quarter. The offense would appear dormant or just plain dead. It was on life support — you could see it lying in a hospital bed with tubes and wires coming out of its arms and nose — and it was saved from dying by the stout defense.

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