With all due respect to Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick didn’t delight the Candlestick Park crowd and millions of TV watchers against the Buffalo Bills. The Chicago Bears had allowed fewer points than all but one team before facing the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night. Sure, the game took place at a stadium where the Bears have been bashed repeatedly over the years, but this is a defense that supposedly preys on young, inexperienced quarterbacks with questionable ball-possession skills.
Kaepernick made a name for himself, and there’s no hiding him anymore. He led the 49ers to their most impressive victory of the season, and the questions are coming. Jim Harbaugh didn’t give any definitive answers afterward, except to say he’d go with the hot hand and both quarterbacks have hot hands right now.
After listening to Harbaugh, I have a hard time envisioning anything other than a scenario where Kaepernick starts next Sunday in New Orleans. There’s a chance the 49ers would feel more comfortable with a veteran quarterback in a loud dome, but with Smith not yet medically cleared and Kaepernick looking just as good passing the ball as he ever has as a runner against one of the better defenses in football, why would the 49ers make a switch during a short week?
In his first NFL start, Kaepernick did well in the area where most people feel Smith is superior — minimizing mistakes. There were no fumbles or interceptions from the 49ers’ quarterback, which is more than you can say for Jason Campbell.
Poor, poor Campbell. He might be considering a career change after experiencing the horror of playing behind the Bears’ Chilo Rachal-infested offensive line. Jay Cutler should be considered a warrior for accomplishing what he has behind that group. When he comes back from his concussion, he will be the Bears’ signal caller until a vicious hit knocks him out again.
I had a good feeling going into this game. It was impossible to rationally expect anything good or bad from Kaepernick, who looked better as he went along against the Rams … but the Rams aren’t the Bears. Still, I had a hard time seeing how the Bears would move the ball against a 49ers defense that was likely to be very angry after last week.
Also, I had an epiphany while taking photos from the sideline before the game when a large group of Bears ran out of their locker room:
Two Smiths had fantastic games. Justin Smith moved piles and came up with a sack, three QB hits and two tackles for loss according to initial reports. Aldon had a night for the ages — 5.5 sacks and a forced fumble which led to a safety — the kind of performance I predicted after the 49ers’ first drive ended in a field goal:
“I think I have a thing for night games. I love playing at night. I love the lights,” Aldon said afterward. That’s an understatement. Aldon has 10 sacks in three MNF games.
Many talk about how strange it is that none of the 49ers’ 2012 draft picks receive significant playing time … or any playing time, as was the case tonight. But Trent Baalke’s first and second round picks were the stars on Monday Night. Aldon Smith now has 31 sacks in 26 career games (including the playoffs). We might be looking at the best pass rusher in franchise history, and that’s saying quite a lot for a team that has employed Fred Dean and Charles Haley.
Here were the rest of Smith’s pregame comments, including which team has the best defense in football, how he’ll text Von Miller after taking the sack lead away from him, and how much playing next to Justin Smith (who combined with Aldon on one sack) helps.
Barack Obama recently said the Bears have the best defense in football.For the record, the 49ers have only allowed 134 points — the best in the NFL by a wide margin. After losing in San Francisco the Bears have allowed 165 points, good for third in the League (Seattle has surrendered the second fewest points — 161).
Vernon Davis could not have been happier
– The star tight end started off his press conference with, “Colin is the MAN.” Then he explained why.
“The ball that he threw me, it’s one of those balls that you see Tom Brady throw. Second window, right on the money, surprise.”
– I asked Davis if he thought the 49ers took the Bears by surprise with how they moved the ball through the air in their first drive, and Davis said that “Kaepernick took control, called the shots and took advantage of his opportunities.”
– “I felt like somebody took the handcuffs off me. It was great,” Davis said about a game where he caught six passes for 83 yards and a TD. In his previous three games Davis caught six passes for 64 yards and no scores.
Here’s what Davis had to say in response after the beating the President’s favorite team by 25 points: