With the report that San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback Alex Smith has been ruled out of tonights Monday night tilt against the Chicago Bears, this could be the break the Bears needed to even up this contest.
I wrote a column last week explaining how repetitions are distributed between starting quarterbacks and their backups. The key emphasized in the article was the experience of quality backup quarterbacks like Jason Campbell and Byron Leftwich of the Steelers.
If you did not see last nights SteelersRavens game, Byron Leftwich played very well. There are vast differences between Jason Campbell and second-year backup Colin Kaepernick of the 49ers, who now will receive the start tonight. This game just tilted in the Bears' favor.
Kaepernick ran a Pistol Offense at the lower division Nevada-Reno in college. He is very athletic, but is still very young in the process of progression reading systems in NFL offenses. It is not only the complicated system giving Kaepernick problems, but also the understanding of intricate defenses and how to attack them. He is a raw talent who will fall back on his own athleticism to get himself out of trouble.
Kaepernicks issue tonight is the Bears speed on defense. The Bears will neutralize Kaepernicks ability to run, forcing him to make decisions from the pocket. Bears fans have witnessed veteran quarterbacks this season who have struggled against the Bears from this aspect alone. The prime example would be watching Texans quarterback Matt Schaub throw two interceptions against this group last week.
Kaepernick also did not get the benefit of working with the starting unit all week. This is a big miscalculation by 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh if this is true. Harbaugh must have been putting all his eggs in one basket Alex Smith would be cleared. It has been reported that Smith and Kaepernick have been sharing repetitions with the first group all week.
This is a big difference between Kaepernick and Campbell before this game. Campbell has been there and done that, where Kaepernick will make his first NFL start with limited knowledge, repetitions and most likely a more limited gameplan adjusted to fit Kaepernick's inexperience against one of the best defenses in the league.
It would help the Bears if defensive end Shea McClellins athleticism was on the field to spy Kaepernick if he decides to run like they did against Cam Newton of the Panthers, but McClellin has been ruled out.
McClellins absence is not the difference because the Bears two challenges are to stop Frank gore on the ground and to now force Kaepernick to make decisions from the pocket. If the Bears accomplish these two keys, they return home victors from a west coast jaunt.