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49ers decision to bench Alex Smith for Colin Kaepernick a huge risk

The 49ers benching of Alex Smith for Colin Kaepernick is a high-risk decision if Smith is healthy enough to play.

Smith is 20-6-1 as the 49ers quarterback under Harbaugh and 9-3 on the road. It's hard to deny that Smith's 35 touchdown passes and just 10 interceptions over two years is the kind of football San Francisco wants to play.

Kaepernick has never started a game on the road. Kaepernick could always come off the bench but Smith may be lost for good with this move. With a $7.5 million salary next year I could think of a half dozen teams that would want Smith as an upgrade over their current situation.

Last year in the playoffs Smith threw for 299 yards 3 touchdowns and ran 28 yards for a score in the win over New Orleans. Why would the 49ers surrender that experience for a second-year guy with 49 pass attempts in his career? Look for the Saints to pressure Kaepernick today. A 49er win and Harbaugh is a genius a loss and the team is in a QB controversy.

Pat Kirwan has been around the league since 1972, serving in a variety of roles. He was a scout for the Cardinals and Buccaneers, a coach for the Jets as well as the team's Director of Player Administration where he negotiated contracts and managed the team's salary cap. He is the author of Take Your Eye Off the Ball: How to Watch Football by Knowing Where to Look, and the host of Sirius NFL Radio's Moving the Chains.
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