Last year, Alex Smith quarterbacked the San Francisco 49ers to the NFC championship game. He started this season hot, too, until he got injured mid-season. He was replaced by backup Colin Kaepernick, who played well for the two games Smith was out.
Smith was ready to play again. From Wikipedia: “Smith was ranked third in the NFL in passer rating (104.1), led the league in completion percentage (70%), and had been 19–5–1 as a starter under (Coach Jim) Harbaugh.”
Harbaugh decided to stick with Kaepernick because Kaepernick had skills that Smith didn’t have. Despite Smith’s past success, Harbaugh took a chance and put his money on the guy he thought could get the team to the Super Bowl. “It is always difficult to change something that is working, especially when the other option is a relative unknown with very little NFL experience. However, Harbaugh had the guts to make the switch. The playoff win over the Green Bay Packers proved that he made the right call. “
What if newspapers thought that way?
Meanwhile, in yesterday’s other game — Broncos versus Ravens — the Broncos had the ball on their own 20 with less than a minute to go. I’ll let Woody Paige of the Denver Post set the scene: “After the Ravens shocked a bitterly cold crowd with a 70-yard balloon bomb from Joe Flacco to Jacoby Jones, with just over half a minute to go, to tie the game for the fifth time, at 35-35, the Broncos had the ball at their 20-yard line, had two timeouts and had the quarterback who had produced more winning drives in the fourth quarter than anybody else who ever played the game.”
As Paige writes, the Broncos had time for six plays, time to get close enough for a field goal and to win the game without going into OT. The other option was a conservative, play-it-safe move: take a knee, let time run out and play to win in the overtime.
And that’s what Denver did, and they lost.