When a quarterback gets sacked six times in one game, any kind of resulting brain trauma should be expected. But when news broke that Alex Smith suffered a concussion during the San Francisco 49ers’ 27-24 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, it came as a surprise to everyone. Suddenly Smith looks like a fragile commodity, and Colin Kaepernick should start mentally warming up since he could be called upon after the first significant shot Smith takes in Cincinnati.
David Garrard’s still out there. And taking into account Smith’s concussion, the 49ers might have thought about signing him this week had they started the season 2-0. With a start like that, the playoffs seem like they’re just around the corner — especially if you play in the NFC West. And for a team that’s been shut out of the postseason for about a decade, it would have been tempting to bring Garrard in as insurance when/if Smith goes down for a week or more. Because with this o-line, Smith probably isn’t going to last the whole season.
Maybe if Smith does get injured this week they’ll bring Garrard in anyway, but there’s a true rebuilding feel with the 49ers these days. Jim Harbaugh’s goal (besides keeping the media in the dark about everything) is to build toward contending for a championship within a couple years. He isn’t looking to eek past the rest of the rest of their horrible division with a mediocre team … or is he?
Let me make this clear: I’m still in favor of the 49ers steering clear of Garrard. But with Smith’s brain now recovering from some sort of bruising, there’s a strong chance Sunday goes like this:
1. Smith gets his bell rung in the first quarter, exits looking like Troy Aikman all those times he’d sit on the bench with smelling salts, inhaling deeply.
2. Kaepernick comes in and completes less than half of his passes, gets called for a few delay of game penalties and the 49ers lose to the Bengals.
3. Trent Baalke calls Garrard’s agent after the game.
Even though the Niners are rebuilding (and should be, since they need major talent upgrades at most positions), they don’t have a lot of fan equity. Candlestick Park is now seen as just as dangerous a place as the Oakland Coliseum during Raiders games. If the 49ers look like they’re on their way to 4-12, there are going to be large amounts of empty seats. Ownership will tire of having to finagle sellouts to avoid blackouts.
Or who knows, maybe Kaepernick will come in and dominate after looking kind of lost during the preseason, just like Cam Newton! Okay, now I sound like I’m the one who suffered from a concussion on Sunday.