The San Francisco 49ers kick off their preseason schedule against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans on Friday. The team, which had its last full practice on Wednesday, has resolved several of its offensive issues over the past few weeks, including running back Frank Gore's holdout and the vacancy at wide receiver created by Michael Crabtree's injury (cue Braylon Edwards). However, there seems to be a question at the quarterback position. Is it wiser to trust veteran Alex Smith or should rookie Colin Kaepernick get a chance?
Coach Jim Harbaugh fielded several questions from CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocci about the 49ers quarterback situation. Asked if all four of his quarterbacks would see action, Harbaugh responded, "I'm anticipating that right now, yes."
All four will get snaps, but it appears that Smith and Kaepernick are one-two on the depth chart at this point and are the most likely to handle the major quarterback duties for the season. Smith is the clear-cut starter right now due to his experience, having spent five seasons with the 49ers. Harbaugh, however, likes how Colin Kaepernick is progressing as well: "I think he's ready. He's done a fabulous job." Harbaugh also went on to compare Kaepernick with the other rookies: "And Kaep really is leading the way (in progression). Of all the rookies, he's the most game-ready of all of them."
Some have speculated that a poor showing by Smith early on in the season will give Kaepernick the chance to step into the limelight early. Saturday's game, where both quarterbacks should see a significant number of snaps, will give us all an indication of just how close the two men are to each other. If Smith performs well, he can solidify himself as the clear starter However, a poor showing by Smith and a solid performance by Kapernick could start the turning the tables.
Of course, it's unwise to glean too much from any one game (and especially a preseason game). Saturday's match-up against the Saints, however, should give us some idea of how the 49ers quarterbacks stack up against one another.