November 29, 2012 | Back to: Sports

Is a ship with two captains destined to sink?

Jim Harbaugh announced Wednesday that the 49ers will start their hot hand at quarterback Sunday against the St. Louis Rams.

No not the guy who has connected on 25 of his last 27 passes with four touchdowns and zero interceptions. His hand must have cooled since his concussion against the Rams three weeks ago. Harbaugh is going with Colin Kaepernick, who has excited the 49er faithful by helping San Francisco thump NFC playoff contenders Chicago and New Orleans.

But Harbaugh also insists that Alex Smith is the starting quarterback and hasn’t done anything to lose his position.

It seems the decision has boiled down to the consistency of Smith versus the potential of Kaepernick, and the second year player out of Nevada has won Harbaugh’s favor.

So now it looks like we have a good ol’ fashioned quarterback controversy brewing in San Francisco, and the media puppet master that is Harbaugh has spun it into a positive thing. Or at least is trying to.

And why not have both players believing they are the starting quarterback? A ship always has two captains, a nation always has two presidents and the two-quarterback system seems to always work.

Just look at Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow. What a dynamic duo they have become in New York.

I’m kidding of course. The two-quarterback system simply doesn’t work at the pro level. It never has, and if Harbaugh can make it happen he would be the first.

Everybody is so talented on the defensive end that many games come down to what team has the best chemistry and timing. For example, Smith hitting Vernon Davis for a touchdown in the waning moments of last season’s playoffs to beat the Saints.

Kaepernick may have the hot hand and may quite possibly be the future in San Francisco, but Smith has his team’s trust. At the pro level, when a quarterback controversy arises it often splits the locker room.

Players have “their guy,” their leader that they turn to and believe in. That is built over time and through experience. When that leader can’t perform up to expectations, then they lose the locker room, they lose their team’s confidence and a change must be made. Smith’s demotion is a product of an injury and not a lack of production.

It’s a mistake for Harbaugh to keep both of his quarterbacks wondering week to week who will get the start because in time it will blow up in his face. Kaepernick has shown great promise in the past two weeks, but what if he comes back to Earth and has a mediocre game this week or next week? Do we see Smith came back after sitting for nearly a month and with the sting of being replaced lingering in the back of his mind? Smith is at his best when he has the full backing of his players and his coaches. Now that is all washed away, and I wonder when and if we see Smith again will he still be the quarterback he has become over the past two years or will he revert back to the timid and insecure quarterback he was for the first five years of his career?

There are instances where two leaders can co-exist, but they are usually at the coaching position and at the college or prep level.

Bear River football co-head coaches Terry Logue and Scott Savoie have led their Bruins into battle together for the past eight years with much success.

“It worked out magically,” Savoie said of his coaching relationship with Logue. “It probably couldn’t or wouldn’t work for a lot of teams, but it works for us. Bear River is kind of a special place.”

Nevada Union’s former girls volleyball coaches Bob Rogers and Larry Peterson co-head coached their way to several section championships.

Now,Forest Lake Christian is entering its boys basketball season with Jason Camacho and Dave Thomas co-steering the ship. We will have to wait and see how that turns out, but the two have worked closely together for the past few years and believe their dynamic is a winning one.

The two leader system can and has worked but not at the professional level and certainly not with quarterbacks. But I guess having two captains is better than having none or one whom you paid way too much for to get out of retirement and steer you right into the Bermuda triangle. … I’m talking to you Raiders.

To contact Sports Writer Walter Ford call (530) 477-4232 or email him at

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The Union Updated Nov 29, 2012 11:30AM Published Dec 7, 2012 11:39PM Copyright 2012 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.