Having Alex Smith finish off a game was an expected outcome a few months ago.
The fact he was the 49ers victory cigar, brought on to relieve starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick was a bit of a twist in their 27-13 win over the Cardinals. They clinched the NFC West title with the win, which moved them to 11-4-1
San Francisco was comfortably ahead and Kaepernick had already for a career-high 276 yards, 172 of them to Michael Crabtree, so it became a bit of a “why not” move.
Whether Kaepernick’s able to show as much poise against legitimate competition in the postseason remains to be seen.
For the Cardinals, it ends the season at 5-11, and could signal big changes in the desert. If nothing else, they need to find a quarterback, as the solid play of Brian Hoyer says more about the context than Hoyer himself.