So the San Francisco 49ers face-off against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday, Oct. 5 for the first time in the regular season since the Niners traded quarterback Alex Smith to the Chiefs, signaling that Colin Kaepernick would be their guy.
The Niners seem destined for an embarrassment-of-quarterback-riches drama. This is the team that traded Joe Montana – possibly the greatest quarterback to date – to the Chiefs no less, because they had Steve Young.
When Alex Smith suffered a concussion back in 2012 and Kaepernick took over for him, leading the Niners to the Super Bowl, well, it was a bit like that moment in “42nd Street” when the star breaks her ankle, the ingénue goes on and the rest is theatrical history.
Even though Kaepernick has better statistics than Smith – and from a pure performance standpoint is a helluva lot more thrilling to watch, because he’s a running quarterback – the Smith-Niners reunion has led to the inevitable “Did the 49ers Make the Right Choice?” column.
Here’s the thing: Even if Smith were better than Kaepernick – and I don’t think he is – it’s a moot point. It’s like the man who remarries. There will always be those allied with the first wife. To them, she’ll was “the good wife.” Maybe she’s even the mother of his children. But that’s not the issue. The issue is that the guy – in this case, Coach Jim Harbaugh – chose someone else.
Maybe Harbaugh thinks Kaepernick is more talented. Maybe he has better chemistry with him. Sometimes it just comes down to whom you like better.
In my upcoming novel “In This Place You Hold Me,” New York Templars’ Coach Pat Smalley despises backup QB Quinn Novak in part because Novak was signed by a general manager who’s since been sacked and partly because he’s tethered to the team’s starting quarterback and refuses to brook any rivalry.
“The heart,” the 17th-century French philosopher Blaise Pascal said, “has its reasons that reason knows not of.”
It doesn’t take much to imagine that for Smith and Kaepernick both, that’s the beauty – and the hell of it.