San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and San Francisco 49ers guard Alex Boone celebrate Kaepernick's touchdown run during the first half of their game against the New York Jets at MetLIfe Stadium. (PHOTO: US PRESSWIRE)
Two schools of thought reign following the 49ers' 34-0 drubbing of the Jets. The first is the addition of quarterback Colin Kaepernick to the offense now gives the opposition one more element of the ever expanding 49ers offense to prepare for and worry about.
The other is whether the insertion of Kaepernick for six plays against the Jets is an indictment of starter Alex Smith. As senior NFL Films producer Greg Cosell said after studying the coaches' tape of the 49ers-Jets game, the 49ers are "manufacturing" offense, not "executing" offense.
Indeed, Smith, after two superlative games where he outplayed Aaron Rodgers and then Matthew Stafford to start the season, has regressed in the last two. Against Minnesota, Smith lost a fumble and threw an interception in compiling an 81.1 passer rating. In that game, Smith froze a few times in the pocket.
He didn't have to be good against the woeful Jets, and he wasn't, completing 12 of 21 passes for a paltry 143 yards with no touchdowns nor interceptions and a 78.1 rating. The one who starred was Kaepernick, gaining 50 yards on five carries with two kneeldowns at the end of the game. Kaepernick also scored on a 7-yard run.
It makes everyone wonder if Kaepernick will get more plays should Smith continue to struggle. For his sake, Smith might be going through a mini-slump. But with three games at home against the Bills, Giants and Seahawks, Smith may need to get back on track before fans in the Bay Area start calling for the popular Kaepernick.
This is certainly a critical year for Smith, who essentially signed a one-year deal. He's now in the second year of the Jim Harbaugh/Greg Roman system, he's playing behind an improved offensive line and he's been outfitted with weapons namely Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and an improved Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis.
If Smith can't build upon last year's breakout success, then he'll be out of excuses and likely out of a job as the 49ers' starting quarterback.