The last time the 49ers beat the Packers, Alex Smith was the quarterback. The last time the 49ers played in the divisional round (and won), Alex Smith was the quarterback.
So as the 49ers prepare to face the Packers in the divisional round of the playoffs, Alex Smith is not the quarterback.
But he’s prepared to play in the event new starter Colin Kaepernick gets injured. “For me, it’s just about being ready to go,” Smith told reporters on Thursday, via Cam Inman of Bay Area News Group. “My responsibility is to know the game plan and be ready. You never know when your opportunity is going to come. The good ones are ready when it does.”
Indeed, Kaepernick was ready when his opportunity came. And he played well enough to take the job from Smith.
For Smith, the opportunity will come on Saturday only if Kaepernick gets injured; it’s highly unlikely he’ll be benched.
“Physically, he’s a tremendous player, a guy that has a strong arm and can make all the throws,” Smith said regarding Kaepernick. “What jumps out to me is how fast he can process things mentally. He’s done a great job playing fast. I see more confidence from him, especially in times where it’s grey and indecision. He makes a decision and goes with it.”
Sort of like what Jim Harbaugh did when making the decision to switch to Kaepernick. Whether that decision is deemed to be a success in the short term will hinge on whether Kaepernick can do what Smith did against the Packers in Week One, and against the Saints in last year’s divisional round of the playoffs.