Last month, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh attributed questions regarding quarterback Alex Smith’s confidence to “gobble gobble turkey,” which he said means “gobble gobble turkey from jive turkey gobblers.”
Though that metaphor would be better suited to comments coming a day before we gobble down plenty of turkey, jive or otherwise, Harbaugh found himself once again fending off questions from the nattering nabobs of negativity who would create trouble for his team in the name of generating talking points.
Along the way, Harbaugh opened the door on an intriguing possibility.
“I know that everybody took the opportunity after the big win the other night to talk nonstop about the quarterback situation, and very little about the great team victory that we had, both offensively, defensively, special teams,” Harbaugh told reporters on Wednesday. “And the way we view it right now is we’ve got two quarterbacks that we’re confident in that have won for us and we believe in. And to me it’s the opposite of a controversy, where controversy is argument between opposing points of view. This is a decision that’ll be made from a team aspect, coming from the same direction”
Asked if Alex Smith is still Harbaugh’s guy, given that Harbaugh didn’t say that after Monday night’s win with Colin Kaepernick at the helm, Harbaugh said, “Alex, all these guys are our guys. All of them are our significant players.”
The bigger question is whether Smith or Kaepernick will start on Sunday at New Orleans. And it’s clear that, as to that specific question, Harbaugh doesn’t yet have one specific “guy” in mind.
“I think most of the people that really want to know and really care, don’t really care whether we win or lose, to be honest with you,” Harbaugh said. “And I don’t know if it’s in our best interest to make a snap decision on that. We’ll get all the factors weighed out. And we’ll talk about it. And we’ll come to the best decision for our team.”
The decision ultimately could be that both “guys” will be the “guy.”
“[T]hey both have the hot hand, so to speak,” Harbaugh said. “And we feel great about it. This isn’t one of those situations where you have the aging starting quarterback and everybody’s clamoring for the young backup quarterback. Or a struggling guy and they want the next guy. Or the young guy’s in there struggling and people are clamoring for the popular backup. We have two really good guys.”
So could Harbaugh pick one of the two guys for a given week, switching them week by week?
“I think it’s a unique situation,” Harbaugh said. “We have two really good guys, two really good players, two guys we really believe in. So could you? Yes. You could.”
How about switching them in the same game?
Rarely has an NFL team employed joint starting quarterbacks. In a roundabout way, it devalues the quarterback position while putting more emphasis on the coaching.
And maybe that’s how it should be in San Francisco. Harbaugh has become the best quarterback coach in the NFL. Maybe he could find a way to use both of his guys like a pair of quality running backs, changing them in and out in order to keep them fresh and, in turn, to keep opposing defenses guessing.
Essentially, Harbaugh now has the same opportunity that the Jets had with Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow. But Smith and Kaepernick are both better than their Broadway counterparts. And the rest of the team is, too.
Regardless of how it all plays out, we’ve got a feeling Harbaugh will find a way to make it work.