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Around the NFC West: No QB debate

Around the NFC West: Aug. 15, 2013

The Alex Smith stories naturally are flowing as the San Francisco 49ers' Friday night exhibition game against their former longtime quarterback approaches.

Smith's eight-year run with the 49ers was the most compelling, maddening, affirming and ultimately confounding story surrounding the team during that time.

Now that Smith will be on the opposite sideline for the first time, reporters covering the 49ers are focusing on Smith's adjustment to life with the Kansas City Chiefs and the feelings he has for the 49ers. There is very little if any focus on whether the 49ers made the correct decision when they permanently benched an injured Smith despite his 19-5-1 starting record over a 25-game span under coach Jim Harbaugh.

Isn't that telling?

Colin Kaepernick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl, one game further than the team went with Smith a year earlier. Kaepernick's talent, productivity and 7-3 starting record (counting playoffs) was enough to kill what had been fierce debate over the decision to leave Smith on the sideline following his return to health from a concussion.

The assumption is that Kaepernick will pick up where he left off, and that he'll be better than Smith for the long term. I think that is likely to be the case. It's an angle that won't be relevant again until we see how these players' careers play out from here.