After seven years of mediocrity at the quarterback position, 49ers fans finally had a reason to be excited.
With Alex Smith standing helplessly on the sideline, unable to play due to a concussion, second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick made the most of his first career start.
It was a sight not often seen in San Francisco over the last few years. Deep passes on the money to open receivers. Pass over the middle thrown with some zip. Kaepernick completed 16 of 23 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns.
In previous games, when he saw action, he ran the ball more often. But in Monday’s 32-7 win over the Chicago Bears, Kaepernick was forced to become a prototypical quarterback. And he showed that he can handle it.
In the battle of the backups, it was the young Kaepernick that out-dueled the veteran Jason Campbell. And it wasn’t even close. Against a team that leads the league in takeaways, Kaepernick didn’t turn the ball over to Chicago.
After the game, ESPN’s Lisa Salters spoke with Kaepernick about how he felt making his first start and whether he was nervous:
“It was everything I could ever wish for. It just feels great to be on the field.”
“I really wasn’t too nervous. I’ve had a lot of time in this offense. My teammates were great around me, giving me support, telling me I’d be great.”
Salters asked Kaepernick if there was a point in the game when he felt comfortable:
“After the first drive, I felt really comfortable with what they were doing and what we had in our game plan.”
With one last question, Salters put Kaepernick on the spot and asked if he thought he’d get the start next week:
“I don’t know. I hope so.”
#49ers at Saints looking like a tremendous matchup. I just wish I knew who 49ers will start at QB.
— Brian Murphy (@knbrmurph) November 20, 2012
Kaepernick joined the ESPN crew after the game and former 49ers quarterback Steve Young asked him about the impending quarterback controversy:
“Me and Alex have a great relationship. He was the first one every time I came over the sideline saying ‘great job.’ Between us, we’re going to come in and work every day and leave that up to the coaches.”
San Francisco Coach Jim Harbaugh on if Colin Kaepernick is his QB next week: "We'll see…I usually go with the hot hand."
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) November 20, 2012
Those coaches now have a tough decision to make: go back to the incumbent or give the exciting, young quarterback another shot.
Sadly, the 49ers will probably go back to banged-up Alex Smith next week against the Saints. They should give Smith some more time to rest — like the rest of the season — and let Kaepernick build on the confidence he gained on Monday night.