With the 49ers preparing for a playoff game that they won a year ago against the team they beat to start the current season, it’s becoming harder to overlook the fact that the quarterback who led San Fran to victory against the Saints in January 2012 and the Packers in September 2012 will be on the bench on Saturday.
But that’s precisely where Alex Smith will be, and it puts even more pressure on current starter Colin Kaepernick.
So coach Jim Harbaugh is doing his best to reduce the pressure, in part by making it clear that Kaepernick is ready for his postseason closeup.
“His understanding of it this early in the week is savant-like,” Harbaugh said regarding Kaepernick’s mastery of the game plan for the game against the Packers, via Steve Corkran of the Bay Area News Group.
Harbaugh still finds himself periodically addressing the events that resulted in the benching of Smith and the elevation of Kaepernick. “It was not a pre-determined move,” Harbaugh said. “The decision was made, when Alex got hurt, Colin played, played well in his first start. Came back the next week, still felt that against New Orleans that Colin gave us the best chance to win. He was healthier and played well.
“Then after that, [we] saw enough really good things that we wanted to have the same faith and trust in Colin that we’d show in Alex. And it’s pretty well documented how we felt about both guys.”
The question could be whether Harbaugh will stick with the guy who is on the field if he struggles in any way against Green Bay. That possibility puts even more pressure on Harbaugh to ensure that Kaepernick doesn’t stumble.