The faint-hearted whiners were out in force over the weekend, whipping the hysterical alarmists into a frenzy. Despite dire warnings of imminent collapse, however, the sky over the Bay Area remained intact, as no pieces of it were located anywhere on the ground or floating on the Bay. Meanwhile, the 49ers went back to work Sunday, with four weeks left to get ready for the season opener. For the first time in training camp, Isaac Sopoagna finally suited up and practiced.
Pre-game information disseminated by HC Jim Harbaugh assured us that all four 49er QBs would play against the Saints, but only two of them did. This seems a clear indication that Harbaugh will be a “watch what I do, not what I say” kind of guy.
It also indicated that he has no intention of bringing Colin Kaepernick along slowly. He wants him ready to play by September 11. And the other two QBs are just camp fodder. Somewhere between now and opening day, a vet will be brought in to be the third string, dire emergency QB. Reports surfaced Sunday that Daunte Culpepper would be trotted in to audition for this role. It’s not a role he would have considered in the past, but a year in the UFL has a way of getting your attention as to your perceived worth, so who knows? If he watched Friday night’s game against the Saints, he might be tempted to think the 3rd stringer could definitely see some action this year.
There seems little doubt Alex Smith will start the season against Seattle. But Kaepernick is going to play each week, too. My guess is he’ll initially have some situational packages in the Red Zone or short yardage, where his dangerous running ability can be utilized for real or simply to neutralize an agressive defense. Harbaugh is a creative guy. He’s not going to let a talent like Kaepernick just take a rain check on his first year.
The bad news is we will probably not see any of these packages in the preseason games. When these gems are unveiled during the real season, we’ll be just as surprised as the opposing defense. Kaepernick definitely showed off his speed and agility in the Saints game. And his arm. That 20 yard pass down the middle to Lance Long was a true bullet. Too quick for the TV camera to track it in the air.
Kaepernick has more ability than Smith is ever going to have. Whether he can handle the pro game, physically and mentally, and how fast he gets a handle, are the only questions remaining. If he’s a quick learner, Smith would have to shock the world this year to make it through the season as the starter.
Next up on the 49ers preseason schedule are the Raiders, who we may have mentioned more than once, suck. They did provide Mike Singletary with his first victory last year, in the sixth game of the season. But that is no reason to look kindly upon them. They suck, their fans suck, and Oakland sucks for letting that franchise back into town.