Category: Sports

I Was Wrong About Kaepernick in Playoffs, But…

SF backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick

49ers Starting QB Colin Kaepernick

OK, OK, so I was clearly wrong about 49ers second-year QB Colin Kaepernick being unable to play up to the level needed to win an NFL playoff game. The guy scorched the Green Bay Packers, personally and in every statistical category yesterday as he led and carried the Niners to a blow-out 45-31 game that was actually not as close as the final score indicates.

49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh

49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh

Ever since mid-season when Coach Jim Harbaugh benched Alex Smith — who at the time was in the top three quarterbacks in the league — in favor of the less-seasoned second-year horse, I’ve been bitchy. I had written some time earlier that I saw Kaepernick as a true Top 5 QB in another year or two but I was not supportive of Harbaugh’s move because:

  • I don’t think a guy should lose a job he’s doing very well because he gets injured. I don’t like the message that sends to players: play hurt or be benched.
  • After seven seasons of shoving Smith around a totally unsettled coaching situation, I thought he deserved a chance to show what he could do in a stable environment.

For what it’s worth, I still feel that way. At the very least, Harbaugh will wake up as the 2013 season begins and find he has some players who are reluctant to put out 100% for a coach who shows no loyalty to a solid veteran. He made the switch to Kaepernick for one reason: he could.

But, with all that said, Kaepernick turned in a magnificent job on Saturday night. No doubt Smith could not have picked apart the Packers with anything resembling the alacrity and brilliance Kaepernick showed. I suspect the Niners have a better than 50-50 chance of playing the the Super Bowl this year.

Clearly, Kaep will be the QB for the next few years for the Niners. I hope and trust Smith will land someplace where he’ll be appreciated and supported so he can finish what should be an illustrious career in the NFL despite maltreatment by the Niners.

But I’m slightly less a fan of the red and gold these days because of the shabby way they treated a guy who worked his gut out for them and was near the pinnacle of success when he was summarily sidelined by a coach with an ego the size of the new Niners stadium.

 

More Shallow “Analysis” of SF QB Situation

Sometimes I’m appalled at what passes for  “analysis” on national sports sites. It seems to me very often that most of the really insightful commentary comes from passionate fans rather than from the professionals and semi-professionals who are featured writers on sites such as The Bleacher Report.

brlogoEven though TBR is one of my favorite sports sites, their commentators very often seem to me to fall victim to the syndrome that suggests that because my byline appears on article on a website with lots of eyeballs, that somehow proves my capability.

Along came Jeremy Sickel  today to provide my latest example of the lack of truth in that belief. Speaking about Sunday’s 49er win over New England, Sickle  actually said this:

“Kaepernick proved on Sunday night that he is the guy who could get this team to the next level by beating the rest of the NFL’s elite.”

Come again? He beats one admittedly elite quarterback on a miserable night after blowing a 28-point lead and against a defense that never did get into sync the entire evening, and suddenly he’s a superstar? Ridiculous!

CK, as I’ve said here several times, is destined, if he stays healthy, to be one of the finest quarterbacks in the NFL. But he’s not there yet and I still think the Niners will pay a steep price for throwing him to the wolves before he’s really ready, just as they did with his deserving processor Alex Smith when his career began in San Francisco.

Hyperbole is a natural part of the sports writer’s vocabulary. Traditionally, it’s what made writing sports more vital, fun and interesting than covering politics, society, and other mundane topics in the news. Some of the best journalists in American history began their careers on the sports desk, and many of them stayed there for long, illustrious careers.

But that does not constitute a license to commit shallow analysis in the interest of developing a reputation as an insightful observer of the sports scene.

No doubt Kaepernick  will someday deserve the accolade bestowed on him by TBR this week. But, exactly like the move that put him in the spotlight, that judgment is decidedly premature.

Kaep Shows Well in Wild Niners Win

Well, they don’t get much stranger than this one. I fully expected the 49ers to slink out of New England with her tail firmly planted between their legs, having been handed a one-sided loss by the Patriots. Instead, I’ll led by mid-season replacement QB Colin Kaepernick,  the Niners won two of three games played under miserable conditions and emerged with a surprising  41-34 victory.

SF backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick

49ers Starting QB Colin Kaepernick

Kaepernick got the team off to a huge start, and by the third quarter the game looked all but out of reach for the host Pats. Then the veteran Tom Brady seemed to wake up. In surprisingly short order, the game was tied at 31.

In the end, though, it was the second-year signal caller who has become the butt of my many barbs with season who pulled their game out of the fire, ending with a QB rating north of 100.

CK was able to pull off this win despite some really questionable play-calling from the bench. As the game wound down, Chris Collinsworth was singing in the young players praises, singling out his mental agility at finding secondary receivers.

For me, it’s still too early to become a fan of No. 7, but he certainly made a good, strong impression in the way he handled abundance and lack during one of the most engaging and exciting games I’ve seen in a while.

Next up for the 49ers: the Seattle Seahawks. Having clinched a playoff spot tonight, the Niners will be looking to lock down the division title and a great position during the playoffs.

Harbaugh’s Not Whining. Seattle DBs Break the Rules

According to this piece on Bleacher Report today, 49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh plans to seek league clarification on how far defensive backs can go with physical play downfield.

I know a lot of fans around the country will accuse Harbaugh of being whiny and trying to influence the officials before the Dec. 23 rematch between the Niners and the Seattle Seahawks. But the truth is, in this case, it appears to me that Harbaugh’s concerns are legitimate.

During last Thursday night’s game between the two teams at Candlestick, I was continually astonished by the downfield contact the Seahawks DBs engaged in, often right in full view of officials who seemed somehow blind to their offenses. Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman were particularly egregious offenders from what I could see.

NFL rules prohibit a defender from making physical contact with a receiver more than five yards from the line of scrimmage. Yet I saw a dozen or more plays in which the ‘Hawks backs blatantly broke that rule. Not one such penalty was ever called.

I’m not saying this is limited to Seattle, though they seem to be the most egregious offenders according to NFL scuttlebutt. Whether it’s Seattle or someone else, though, it’s important that teams be able to count on the rules being enforced consistently. Harbaugh is right to question the performance of Thursday night’s officiating crew on this point.