Monday, January 14, 2013

When He’s Right, He’s Right

Some of the best sports conversations of my life have been with my dad. Colin Fleming and I are very different people, and we dont have a ton of common interests, but weve always been able to talk about whats going on in the sports world and share our opinions with one another. More often than not, I find that my dads put a good amount of thought into what he says, and we usually agree. When we disagree, its damn near impossible for me to admit when he has a better handle on something than I do, but goddddddamnit, this is one of those times.

            Long before Alex Smith was benched following a midseason concussion, Colin Kaepernick was my dads guy. Dad couldnt wait to see Kaepernick play, and when Smiths Injury finally cracked open the door, my dad was ecstatic.

 He can do things Alex just cant do. Youll never win a title with Alex. With this guy, you have a chance.

My response was simple enough:

How can you bench a guy that has a top five passer rating in the NFL and got the Niners to the NFC Championship game last year??

            That was always my fallback response, my reasoning for defending poor Alex Smith. I just couldnt wrap my mind around the thought that Alex deserved to lose his job. He got us within one win of a Super Bowl appearance, how could anyone say he is incapable of getting to the next level? Alex is accurate, doesnt turn the ball over, and has completely reversed the course of a once-doomed career. Before 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh was lured away from Stanford before the 2011 season, Smiths career had been depressing to watch.

Smith was famously drafted with the top pick in a draft that included future MVP and Super Bowl winner Aaron Rodgers. My family are all Cal fans, so when Rodgers, a UC Berkeley product, was projected as a possible top pick in 2005, we were hopeful that the 49ers would use their choice on a Golden Bear. Instead, the 49ers chose Smith from the University of Utah, and a cloud descended over Candlestick Park. That stench from that pick lingered long enough to send Head Coaches Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary packing, but when Harbaugh arrived, it seemed as though Smith had finally been given a decent opportunity to succeed. Smith figured out how to win, even if it was through ball control and short gains. I was proud of Alex, even after lustily booing him at the Stick and chanting we want Carr! when the 49ers got destroyed at home by the Eagles in 2010. I like a good comeback story, and I wanted to believe that maybe Alex just hadnt been coached well, or the revolving door of Offensive Coordinators had left him unsure of what kind of system to prepare for. It was uplifting to see Smith avoid becoming, well, David Carr.

Before last weeks divisional playoff matchup against the Packers, I still wasnt convinced that Alex deserved to lose his job. I reminded my dad that Alex hadnt done anything to lose his gig this year.  My dads response was brutal, but accurate. This isnt little league. Kaepernick is better, he can throw harder than Alex, hes more accurate, he can run faster, and hes bigger.

Now that Kaepernick has the 49ers back in the NFC Championship game after defeating Green Bay 45-31 on Saturday, Im finally capable of being honest with myself and admitting that my dad was right.

Feel good stories be damned, I cant imagine Alex starting for the 49ers anymore. It took a dominating playoff win for the notion to leave me, but Im on the Kaepernick bus – although my dad is still driving. Theres no quarterback Id rather have. Id rather have Kap than Brady, Rodgers or Brees.

Whoa there, Dad. Hit the brakesor is he right again? If he is, Im not ready to admit it yet.

No comments:

Post a Comment