Harbaugh hints at using both quarterbacks


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?

“You could.”

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.

20 responses to “Harbaugh hints at using both quarterbacks

  1. Ya wanna score enough points to beat the Saints in their home stadium Jim? Ummm well then ya better play Kappy…. Just tell everyone that Alex still has concussion symptoms, and there ya go, now that wasn’t so hard now was it???

  2. If the coaches don’t know it’s because they are waiting for information on Smith’s status.

    If they do know, then they’re going with Kaepernick and they’re making New Orleans game plan without knowing which QB’s strengths/weaknesses to prepare for.

  3. Kaepernick looked great…no question about it. But I remember Matt Flynn throwing for 5 or 6 TD’s in his start with GB last year.

  4. Just don’t switch them out between plays. If you want to have both play, give them a whole series or quarter or half. Swapping them out play-by-play will fail. They need some rhythm and continuity.

    I still think this is Alex’s job, but I love Kaep and look forward to the future with him. Alex has seen a lot of blitzes and a lot defenses. He can win those close, tough games. He is the guy who will do better in the playoffs at this point. Kaep scares me when he starts running with the ball as a pointer. The Bears don’t blitz a lot, so judging Kaep based on 1.5 games and a total of 25 plays on the season in other games isn’t enough.

    Harbaugh just really likes to keep everyone guessing. I wouldn’t be surprised if we learn Alex is the starter Sunday morning.

  5. No matter how good your QB’s are, it disrupts them if you switch back and forth too much…making them both less effective. It also messes with the receievers. I really like and respect Alex Smith. He’s gone through so much in his career: shoulder surgeries, having a new offensive coordinator every year, people always saying negative things about him, etc. Through it all, Smith has not only kept his composure, but acted with nothing but class. He’s a good, solid QB. But Kaepernick adds another dimension and the 49er’s offense was so much more dynamic vs the Bears. And he did it against a VERY good defense. That being said, the question is whether or not Kaepernick can do it week in and week out after opponents have had a chance to study him on film?

  6. Really sad as a Raider fan watching this kid play. Al Davis was trying everything to move up to draft this kid and the Niners knew it and made the move. What a shame, he really looks like the real deal, so calm. It reminded me of when Tom Brady came in for Drew Bledsoe and looked the same calm and in control type player. Brady never gave the reigns back to Bledsoe, and I don’t think Smith will be the starter by playoff time.

  7. Comparison’s between Matt Flynn and Colin Kaepernick are absurb. Flynn only started as a 5th year player at LSU since he couldn’t beat out the infamously bad JaMarcus Russel for the job (indeed in retrospect it can be convincingly argued both only had success in college because of the team they were on). Thus Flynn was a 7th round choice who didn’t see significant action until his 4th year in the NFL because he was correctly viewed by the Packers as a decent backup but nothing more. Kaepernick was a 4 year starter who carried his college teams and was accordingly drafted in the second round by the 49ers to eventually become a franchise QB.

  8. “And to me it’s the opposite of a controversy, where controversy is argument between opposing points of view”

    A nontroversy. Just like “three-peat”! LOL

    I am hoping Harbaugh is just greasing the media’s wheels, and come game time, both Gore and Hunter will getting most of the action, not the two QBs. Saints rush D is terrible, so do what you do best ‘niners- RUN THE FOOTBALL.

  9. So Kaepernick will play when the 49ers want to throw the ball down the field and Smith will play when a handoff or pass under 5 yards is called?

  10. i like platoon football at the hs level. like some other unconventional concepts it might have a situational place in the pros. only harbaugh and roman have the berries to try it. Kaep with LMJ and Moss and Williams downfield could be unstoppable. Makes A Smith Gore Crab &Manningham rested and even more dangerous.

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