With ESPN on in the Indianapolis Colts training room, and every sporting website covering the topic, it’s difficult not to hear the discussions regarding the quarterback controversy in San Francisco. Every pundit or former player has voiced their opinion about who should be starting for the team.
A quick summary of the arguments:
-Smith: Manages the game well, known quantity, just went 18/19 passing, took the team to the NFC Championship game last year.
-Kaepernick: Brings extra dimension (option read/running), strong arm, won last two games as starter.
Taking into account how the media felt about the situation (Ha, yeah right! Take that Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith), Coach Harbaugh announced that the team will move forward with Kaepernick for now. For the record, I didn’t see the news conference. I can’t tell you any quotes or how sure he seemed in announcing the decision. What I can tell you (which seems to be overlooked by the mainstream media at the moment), is that this isn’t the first time this situation has happened to a team under the guidance of Jim Harbaugh. I know you just gasped very dramatically, and now you’re wondering what I could possibly be talking about. Don’t worry, I’ll explain…
In 2007, Coach Harbaugh’s first year at Stanford University, the starting quarterback was T.C. Ostrander. After having a seizure the week before playing #1 ranked USC, Ostrander was ruled out of the game. Dismal prospects for the Stanford Cardinal just got significantly worse. Starting in the recovering QB’s place was redshirt sophomore Tavita Pritchard. In what is now college football lore as the greatest upset ever, the 41-point underdog Stanford Cardinal came out with the victory behind a game-winning pass from Pritchard. Coach Harbaugh went with Pritchard for the remainder of that season, as well as the entire 2008 season. In 2009 Andrew Luck started at quarterback for Stanford.
Minor Point: I was watching the game from my dorm room, as I was redshirting.
More Significant Point: Andrew Luck couldn’t start because he was just a Stanford recruit at this point.
My Confession: I spent more time working on a paper that night for one of my classes then I did watching the game. Don’t worry though, I checked the TV once in a while, and got to watch the Hollywood ending unfold live.
Side note: Tavita Pritchard is now a coach at Stanford University. He is a great guy, and is/will be an awesome Coach.
So What Does it All Mean?
1. History does tend to repeat itself. Profound, I know.
2. You’re looking at two distictly different situations:
-The 49ers were a very good team last year, and are still a very good team.
-Stanford struggled badly the year before their QB change, and gradually improved.
3. Harbaugh stuck by his decision (until Luck came along. Hard to fault him on that one).
4. If history truly repeats itself, the 49ers will draft their QB of the future this year, redshirt him for a year, and then let him run wild all over NFL defenses.
5. The 49ers have good depth at QB regardless of the starter.
6. Both QB’s have a chance of being successful (in terms of wins) with a powerful run game and outstanding defense.