Reaching back for 49ers QB parallels

November, 27, 2012
11/27/12
2:15
PM ET
It's tough finding recent parallels for the San Francisco 49ers' current quarterback situation.

The decision facing the 49ers, who have yet to name a starter for Week 13, bears loose resemblance to the decision Buffalo faced in replacing Doug Flutie for the playoffs following the 1999 season.

The Bills had gone 17-8 with Flutie as their starter over the 1998 and 1999 seasons. When they rested Flutie for a meaningless Week 17 game against Indianapolis, backup Rob Johnson lit up the Colts for 287 yards and two touchdowns during a 31-6 victory.

Johnson had posted a 102.9 NFL passer rating as a part-time starter in 1998. There was a sense in Buffalo at the time, at least among some, that Johnson might give the Bills' offense a better shot at winning in the playoffs. Johnson got the call for the postseason, a decision that became notorious when he completed only 10 of 22 passes for 131 yards during a 22-16 defeat to Tennessee in the wild-card round.

The 49ers' circumstances are different. Smith missed time because of a concussion.

There are still some similarities. Kaepernick, like Johnson, has played well in relief. The offense has in some ways appeared more dynamic with him in the lineup.

While the Bills were 17-8 with Flutie starting, the 49ers have gone 19-5-1 with Smith in the lineup since the start of last season. Their offense has improved in 2012, but advocates for Kaepernick see greater potential with the second-year pro behind center.

The charts compare basic passing stats for the relevant Bills and 49ers quarterbacks.

New England's situation with Drew Bledsoe and Tom Brady in 2001 also comes to mind.

Bledsoe, sidelined for an extended period when Brady emerged as the Patriots' long-term starter, shared some thoughts on the 49ers' situation during a conversation with "Mike & Mike in the Morning" Tuesday.

According to Bledsoe, Smith hasn't been sidelined long enough for the 49ers to disregard all the evidence the team weighed before naming Smith the starter over Kaepernick out of training camp. He also thinks the two defensive touchdowns San Francisco scored against New Orleans make it tough to emphasize Kaepernick's 2-0 starting record.

Veteran quarterbacks tend to sympathize with other veteran quarterbacks. We've seen Steve Young suggest the 49ers should stick with Smith, for example.

Every situation is different. They're all captivating.

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