A divide has grown amongst 49ers fans ever since Colin Kaepernick replaced Alex Smith at quarterback. This controversy has grown with each passing week, eventually giving rise to “Team Kaepernick” versus “Team Smith” debates which are, in every single way, asinine.
It’s not that I am condemning sports debates; they are part of what makes being a fan interesting. But there should never be a rift between fans of a particular team, especially if that rift is based upon who the starting quarterback is. I understand the merits of this particular case: some people don’t like the way Smith lost his job, while others love the way Kaepernick plays. But in arguing this, fans are missing a more important reality: THEY’RE BOTH ON THE 49ERS. 49ERS FANS, REGARDLESS OF QUARTERBACK PREFERENCE, SHOULD BE “TEAM 49ERS.”
I’ve personally abstained from siding with either Team Kaepernick or Team Smith. I feel no need to take a side. People ask all the time what “team” I’m on. I balk at the question, because I’m on Team 49ers. If Alex Smith is the quarterback, I’m going to root for them to win. If Colin Kaepernick is the quarterback, I’m going to root for them to win.
The venom spewed towards each of these men by 49ers fans is starting to become ludicrous. To assume Colin Kaepernick can’t play because he hasn’t proven anything yet is wrong. Conversely though, it is wrong on so many levels to cheer at the sight of Alex Smith on the sidelines in a baseball cap.
Look yourself in the mirror and ask this question: If you’re on Team Kaepernick, are you going to root for the 49ers to lose if Alex Smith regains his job as the starter? And vice versa, Team Smith folks: are you root against a Kaepernick-manned 49ers team?
If the answer to those questions is “no,” then perhaps it is proof that the bickering needs to stop. There are plenty of other things to discuss; for example, Aldon Smith approaching the all-time single season sack record, an accomplishment that he is just 5 sacks shy of with 4 games to go.
If the answer is “yes,” then perhaps you need to reevaluate your priorities as a “49ers fan.” A fan should never root against their team, and if your prejudice against one player is so strong that it gets in the way of your fandom, then that word may not aptly describe you.
I urge all those taking sides: just stop it. Stop all of it. This isn’t a contest to see who the better quarterback is. We know Smith’s credentials like we know Kaepernick’s credentials. Regardless of who you believe the better option is, the ultimate goal is winning. Root for either man to succeed, because if the 49ers put together a Super Bowl run this year, it won’t matter who it is that raises the Lombardi Trophy. That moment will be a special one for 49ers fans everywhere, and when that time comes, quarterback affiliation shouldn’t get in the way of enjoying that moment.
Special thanks to Kyle McLorg (@Ruthless_Sports) for help on this article. His writing on all things Bay Area sports can be found at BayAreaSportsGuy.com.