There’s nothing new about quarterbacks being the center of attention. But that will be an understatement with Alex Smith coming with the Kansas City Chiefs to play against his former team, the San Francisco 49ers, and the player who eventually pushed him out, Colin Kaepernick.
On the surface, there doesn’t seem to be too much bad blood between the sides. Smith was obviously frustrated when Harbaugh took the starting spot away from him in 2012, but Smith understood that with Kaepernick and the 49ers winning, eventually going to the Super Bowl and losing to the Ravens, he didn’t stand a chance. He asked to leave and didn’t face a hard line from the front office. He found a good place to succeed in with the Chiefs and under someone like Andy Reid, who doesn’t yell as much as Harbaugh. He isn’t complaining about where he is.
The 49ers are a festival of contrasts. They are polarizing, not just because they’re a team with a very big following on a national level which also brings out the hate brigade when things don’t go so well. Colin Kaepernick, for his inconsistency as a passer and his off-field personality, gets reactions easily. Harbaugh, with his reactions on the sidelines, isn’t exactly easy to love as well. But this isn’t about having the best personality. It’s about putting on the best team possible.
The 49ers are doing a very good job defensively this season, although it has taken them time to get there. They’re allowing just 287 yards per game and made it almost impossible for the Eagles in a 24-21 win, allowing the Eagles just one drive inside their own territory. The Chiefs are riding a defensive high as well, coming off a 41-14 win over the Patriots, in which they abused Tom Brady and eventually got him benched.
It’s very difficult to pass against the Chiefs, but it’s even more difficult to run the ball against the 49ers, allowing only 70 yards per game on the ground. It’ll be an interesting thing to see, because Jamaal Charles, as a receiver or coming from the backfield, is one of the more talented offensive players in the league. The Chiefs have a good offensive line, so even if they won’t be able to create gaps for Charles and Davis to run through, the short passing game is also something they do very well.
Kaepernick does a good job when it comes to avoiding the blitz, but he needs the 49ers to establish a running game in order to be effective. That might the statement of this NFL season, but that’s beside point. The 49ers need to keep Frank Gore active. Their offensive line hasn’t been the best this season but it’s getting better, and involving Gore and Hyde should be the way to get this team’s offense to work at its highest efficiency.