Much has been said about continuity and consistency in the NFL. Having minimal roster and coaching staff turnover is the main goal of a winning franchise, and having a full offseason to prepare is always considered crucial.
When the San Francisco 49ers took to their offseason following their NFC Championship Game loss to the New York Giants last season, the main focus was on getting Alex Smith to be able to lead a stronger and more dynamic offense to supplement the NFL's top defense.
They acquired new targets in free agency and the draft, and gave him more and more of Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman's surely titanic playbook. And coming out of the gate, the offense did look much improved. Smith was hitting his receivers, who actually looked useful for once.
Smith was 7-for-8 with a touchdown in the first Rams game before going down with a concussion. Colin Kaepernick came in and played a very poor half and overtime period, but he got the starting nod. He's now 2-1 as the starter, and Harbaugh said he thought Kaepernick played well against the Rams the second time around.
But he didn't necessarily play well, though he's not at fault for the loss. Twice, David Akers was given a chance to kick a field goal and he missed both of them. Tight end Delanie Walker dropped as easy a touchdown pass as he could possibly have a chance at, and followed it up by getting a holding penalty on the next play.
Frank Gore and Michael Crabtree both had drops, and the 49ers defense made Sam Bradford look like a Pro Bowler at times. In short, there are plenty of reasons that the 49ers fell to the Rams in Week 13.
There will be plenty of people calling for Smith to get the next start. After all, he's 19-5 since last season, and had a 70 percent completion rate and a 100+ quarterback rating this year. But my opinion is that switching to Smith is the wrong move - on top of the opinion that switching to Kaepernick was the wrong move.
Back to my introduction: the 49ers spent so much time on Smith and working the offense around him this offseason. The offensive line became the best in the NFL in front of Smith, the running backs adhered to his playing style, the receivers got used to his timing and velocity, and most importantly: the 49ers were a winning football team.
Making that change threw so many things off. The cohesiveness of the offense was thrown for a loop, and no amount of arguing can change that. It is a fact that one player removed messes with cohesiveness. Now, the degrees shift is of course, open to interpretation, but it happened.
One example of things changing was the playcalling. That triple option play that resulted in a turnover and a touchdown (though Janoris Jenkins should have been down by contact) was just crazy. It was a dumb play even in the best situation.
I don't think that Smith would have ran that play any better, but I also don't think it would have been called if he were under center. The playcalling has dropped in quality significantly with Kaepernick under center, even when the 49ers are winning football games.
And now, the 49ers are in a precarious position. Far from being guaranteed a playoff spot and an NFC West crown, they have two things they can do. They can stick with Kaepernick, or they can go back to Smith. As someone who believes they never should have switched to Kaepernick in the first place, I am firmly of the opinion that they should not go back to him.
Going back to him would just complicate things further. It would introduce more chaos to a unit that thrives on cohesiveness. It would set everybody back another week, another two weeks ... what have you. Was Smith the guy going forward into multiple seasons, anyway? San Francisco made their bed, now they have to lie in it.