As we watched 49ers quarterback Alex Smith on the sideline during Sunday's 31-21 victory over the Saints, we couldn't help but have mixed feelings.
Smith had been medically cleared Saturday, yet Colin Kaepernick led the 49ers to victory for the second week in a row.
Smith, the No. 1 pick in the 2005 NFL draft, had never lived up to that lofty selection until Jim Harbaugh took over as the 49ers' coach last season. And all Smith did was lead the 49ers to a 13-3 regular-season record and nearly into the Super Bowl. Then the 49ers started this season 6-2-1, with Smith leading the NFL in completion percentage (70 percent) and ranking third in passer rating (104.1).
Smith took a beating against the Rams in a 24-24 tie, and a concussion forced him to miss last Monday night's game against the Bears, with Kaepernick leading the way in the 32-7 rout.
Even though Smith had been cleared, Harbaugh elected to go with Kaepernick again, saying that concern over Smith's health played a big role in the decision. Still, Kaepernick brings a level of excitement to the 49ers' offense that has been lacking.
When the 49ers moved up to the second round to draft Kaepernick last year, it seemed only a matter of time before he would replace Smith.
Should we feel compassion for Smith, who has done everything and more that has been asked of him?
Or should we recognize that the NFL is a business and Smith will get paid even if he never steps on the field for the 49ers again?
What to do
NBA, Minnesota at Kings, 7 p.m., Sleep Train Arena: Plenty of tickets are available to see the Timberwolves' Kevin Love and the Kings' DeMarcus Cousins square off.
Do you feel bad for 49ers quarterback Alex Smith?
Yes, he's paid his dues and should start.
No, he gets paid even if he doesn't play.
Vote above or leave your comments in the comments field, or go to www.sacbee.com/sports
Monday's poll results
Will you care if the NHL season is canceled?
Total votes: 181
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