Kaepernick in the mix to start for 49ers?

49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh told the media on Friday that second round pick Colin Kaepernick will be given the opportunity to start as a rookie.

“Alex (Smith) has the ability the license to be the starting quarterback and so does Colin,” Harbaugh said.

Smith is a free agent but the consensus seems to be that San Fran will bring him back on a one or two-year deal – assuming he wants to return, that is. If the 49ers do bring Smith back, he would be the favorite to start over Kaepernick next year, and he should be.

I don’t want to take Harbaugh’s comments out of context. He’s a former NFL quarterback and he knows that sometimes it takes a while for a young signal caller to grasp playing in the pros. But I don’t like the idea of Kaepernick starting right away. He played in the pistol offense at Nevada – no matter how talented he is, it’s going to take some time for him to learn how to play in a pro-style offense. Imagine being taught Spanish in college and then turning around having to learn Italian in order to succeed in your profession. It’s going to take some time and Kaepernick should hold a clipboard in his first year.

Now, before 49er fans get upset with me and call me a moron because they think I’m criticizing Kaepernick – I’m not. In fact, this is what I wrote in my “15 Observations from the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft” piece after the Niners took Kaepernick on Friday evening:

3. It may take a couple of years but give Jim Harbaugh some time and he could turn Colin Kaepernick into a good pro quarterback. Kaepernick is a bit of a project but the kid has good size, a great arm and is one hell of an athlete. He has all the tools to succeed and if fans are patient, this could wind up being a beautiful marriage.

If he turns out to be the rookie of the year, then great! I would love to see Kaepernick succeed because he’s easy to root for. I just think everyone in the Bay area should be patient when it comes to this young man‘s development. He could be a real good quarterback in due time.

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