Click photo to enlarge
San Francisco 49ers' Alex Smith passes against the New York Giants in the fourth quarter at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Calif. on Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012. New York won, 26-3. (Jim Gensheimer/Staff)

So Jim Harbaugh continues to stand by his man, Alex Smith, even after the eight-year quarterback's dismal performance Sunday against the New York Giants.

Smith is Harbaugh's guy even as he allows backup Colin Kaepernick to charge onto the field for a few snaps while awaiting his turn.

And, yes, even as the vocal minority continues to express its lack of faith in Alex and, now, its fascination with Colin.

Same as it was, huh?

Once upon a time, the quarterback of the people was Shaun Hill or David Carr or Troy Smith or perhaps even J.T. O'Sullivan -- anybody but Alex. None of those options was better for the 49ers and none went elsewhere and proved himself superior to Smith.

None started every single game for a team that came within minutes of its first Super Bowl in 16 years.

The day may come when Kaepernick is that guy, when he leads a team, maybe even the 49ers, into the playoffs and perhaps to a Super Bowl championship.

That day is not now, not when Smith is six games into his second season under Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Not when only nine months have passed since this trio managed to get the 49ers to their first championship game in 12 years.

Nobody knows this better than Harbaugh. The man has spent half his life at quarterback, so he ought to have a clue about the requirements of the position.

I'm completely with Harbaugh on this one. He ought to know Smith is, without question, the best quarterback on the roster.


Advertisement

The coach also concedes that maybe rotating his quarterbacks can disrupt offensive continuity. Maybe it does. But that's not a problem when Smith is on his game and Kaepernick comes in to create explosive plays.

It was a problem Sunday because Smith threw three picks and made some bad decisions. And because Kaepernick did not do much to suggest to the sober eye that he's ready to supplant Smith.

Kaepernick's strength is supposed to be his arm. And while it's stronger than that of Smith, San Francisco's best deep ball of the day was a 55-yard connection between Smith and wideout Randy Moss.

Harbaugh surely noted that.

"We've been using Colin as an added weapon,'' the coach said during his Monday briefing. "We feel we've been getting plenty of everything from Alex Smith.

"We'll leave it there.''

Harbaugh doesn't dare imply there is anything remotely close to a quarterback controversy, mostly because there isn't.

One of his recruiting pitches after taking the job 21 months ago was to none other than a free agent named Alex Smith, who had grown weary and wary of NFL head coaches -- because of his fruitless relationships with Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary -- and tired of being the popular choice as goat for the many failures of the pre-Harbaugh 49ers.

Harbaugh lured Smith back to the franchise by persuading him it was a new era, a fresh start, that they could work together and somehow make the 49ers not only a functional offense but an appreciably better team.

More to the point, Harbaugh vowed to support his quarterback through the inevitable ups and downs.

So what did Harbaugh do shortly after Smith re-signed? He signed off on using a second-round pick to draft Kaepernick.

What did the coach do a year after drafting Kaepernick? He flirted with a free-agent quarterback, future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning.

The consistent message, and it's explicit, is that Harbaugh is committed to building the best possible team, around the best available quarterback.

That quarterback, for 24 of 24 games under Harbaugh, has been Smith.

And will continue to be, as it should.

Contact Monte Poole at mpoole@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/1montepoole.