Even with Colin Kaepernick's explosive performance in the 34-0 shutout of the Jets, Bay Area sports fans aren't even close to framing a debate about a quarterback controversy.
First of all, Kaepernick moved the ball explosively with his feet. He essentially gained 50 yards on three carries (with two kneel downs). But in the NFL, quarterbacks establish their utility as passers and this is where Kaepernick might not be ready for prime time.
Only in his second season, Kaepernick is still considered a raw player. He has a long wind up and whip-like delivery. The one throw he attempted against the Jets was a deep pass to Randy Moss, who blew past Antonio Cromartie and LaRon Landry and was open for a touchdown. But Kaepernick's throw was late and underthrown.
In the preseason, Kaepernick exhibited his running ability and his talents when throwing on the run. But Kaepernick still needs grooming as a pocket passer, where the majority of passes in the NFL come from.
And even though Alex Smith missed on four deep throws against the Jets, the 49ers still won 34-0 on the strength of their creative play-calling, defense and special teams. That's been the formula since coach Jim Harbaugh was hired before last season.
Despite Smith's two straight games of mediocrity, he's doing exactly what he did last year and that's winning games, staying away from mistakes and not making risky throws. Last season, Smith finished with a 17 touchdown and five interceptions while compiling a 90.7 passer rating.
So far this season, Smith has thrown five touchdown passes, one interception and owns a 98.1 passer rating. He's the same guy, doing the same thing.
By the quarter pole of the season, the team is discovering that Smith might not be the type of quarterback to animate the talents of their weapons. NFL Films ranked him as the 16th-ranked quarterback in the league and that might be exactly right for him.
Maybe Smith will be better as he develops chemistry with his new receivers. But for right now, Smith is a guy who just won't get in the way of fine defensive and special teams' performances.
The 49ers may have been hoping for more, because they can't bank on being plus-28 in turnover ratio like they were last year. But right now Smith is a steady steward, and his backup Colin Kaepernick is nothing more than a specialty player and at least for this season, that's just the way it is.
SERIES HISTORY: 11th regular-season meeting. Series tied 5-5. The 49ers have won two of the last three meetings, including a 35-0 blanking of Buffalo on Dec. 2, 2001 in Francisco Most historic meeting between these two teams was Sept. 13, 1992, when Jim Kelly and Steve Young were embroiled in a shootout. The Bills won 34-31 in a game in which for the only time in NFL history, neither team punted.
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