Announcing the 49ers All-Decade Quarterback

Nick_Newman

The 49ers have had three very good quarterbacks this best decade, however only one can be named the All-Decade quarterback.

Arguments can be made for Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick, and Jimmy Garoppolo as each of them achieved a high level of success with the team over the last ten years.

Inside the numbers:

  • Alex Smith (2010-2012)
  • QB record regular season: 22-12-1
  • QB record postseason: 1-1

regular season totals

  • 630 pass completions / 995 pass attempts (63.3% completion percentage)
  • 7,251 passing yards / 7.3 yards per pass attempt
  • 44 passing touchdowns / 20 interceptions (2.2 / 1 TD:INT ratio)
  • 101 rush attempts / 371 rushing yards / 2 rushing touchdowns

postseason season totals

  • 36 pass completions / 68 pass attempts (52.9 completion percentage)
  • 495 passing yards / 7.3 yards per pass attempt
  • 5 passing touchdowns / 0 interceptions
  • 7 rush attempts / 70 rushing yards / 1 rushing touchdown

best season (2012)

  • 153 pass completions / 218 pass attempts (70.2 completion percentage)
  • 1,737 passing yards / 8 yards per pass attempt
  • 13 passing touchdowns / 5 interceptions
  • 31 rush attempts / 132 rushing yards / 0 rushing touchdown

*Played only 9 games (lost starting job to Kaepernick following an injury)

  • Colin Kaepernick (2011-2016)
  • QB record regular season: 28-30
  • QB record postseason: 4-2

regular season totals

  • 1,011 pass completions / 1,692 pass attempts (59.8% completion percentage)
  • 12, 271 passing yards / 7.2 yards per pass attempt
  • 72 passing touchdowns / 30 interceptions (2.4 / 1 TD:INT ratio)
  • 375 rush attempts / 2,300 rushing yards / 13 rushing touchdowns

postseason season totals

  • 94 pass completions / 162 pass attempts (58% completion percentage)
  • 1,374 passing yards / 8.5 yards per pass attempt
  • 7 passing touchdowns / 5 interceptions
  • 51 rush attempts / 507 rushing yards / 4 rushing touchdowns

best season *including postseason*: 2012

  • 185 pass completions / 298 pass attempts (62% completion percentage)
  • 2,612 passing yards / 8.7 yards per pass attempt
  • 14 passing touchdowns / 5 interceptions (2.8 / 1 TD:INT ratio)
  • 88 rush attempts / 679 rushing yards / 8 rushing touchdowns

*Started only 7 regular season games (Alex Smith initial starter)

  • Jimmy Garoppolo (2017-Present)
  • QB record regular season: 19-5
  • QB record postseason: 2-1

regular season totals

  • 502 pass completions / 743 pass attempts (67.6% completion percentage)
  • 6,256 passing yards / 8.4 yards per pass attempt
  • 39 passing touchdowns / 21 interceptions (1.8 / 1 TD:INT ratio)
  • rush attempts / 2,300 rushing yards / 13 rushing touchdowns

postseason season totals

  • 94 pass completions / 162 pass attempts (58% completion percentage)
  • 1,374 passing yards / 8.5 yards per pass attempt
  • 7 passing touchdowns / 5 interceptions
  • 69 rush attempts / 106 rushing yards / 2 rushing touchdowns

best season *including postseason*: 2019

  • 366 pass completions / 534 pass attempts (68.5 completion percentage)
  • 4,405 passing yards / 8.2 yards per pass attempt
  • 29 passing touchdowns / 16 interceptions (1.8 / 1 TD:INT ratio)
  • 56 rush attempts / 63 rushing yards / 1 rushing touchdown

Analysis:

Alex Smith had one very good full season as the 49ers quarterback in 2011. He led the 49ers to a 13-3 record, and won a playoff game. You could also argue he would’ve led the team to the Super Bowl if it wasn’t for a few special-team miscues by returner Kyle Williams in the NFC Championship Game against the Giants.

In 2011, Smith set career highs (at the time) in pass percentage, yards, and touchdown to interception ratio. In 2012, Smith was playing quarterback at his highest level yet, before a concussion set him back and ultimately led to him losing his starting job to Kaepernick. During that season, Smith was on pace to set career highs in nearly every statistical category.

Under Jim Harbaugh, the term “game manager” was frequently used when talking about Smith. Smith did what he had to do to ensure the 49ers won games, but his numbers and style of play didn’t blow you away.

Smith was good, but he is not the team’s All-Decade quarterback.

Kaepernick played his best football when he first took over for Smith. The numbers Kaepernick put up in the seven games he started in Smith’s absence would have amounted to career highs in every category over a 16-game season.

The Kaepernick craze took the NFL by storm, as he led the team to their sixth Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. Along the way, Kaepernick broke records such as the most rushing yards in a playoff game by a quarterback ever.

Kaepernick had two more seasons with solid quarterback play in 2013 and 2014. The 2013 season included two postseason wins on the road in Green Bay and Carolina, before falling short to Seattle in the NFC Championship Game. The 2014 season ended with an 8-8 record, and the team missed the postseason for the first time in three years.

Then of course, you have the Kaepernick years with Jim Tomsula (2015) and Chip Kelly (2016) where Kaepernick’s play and the play of the team as a whole really started to fall off.

Nonetheless, Kaepernick had those jaw dropping moments and led the 49ers through some of their best football years of the decade.

Garoppolo may end up being the best quarterback of the bunch -- his 77.7% win rate is far better than the numbers Smith (62.2%) and Kaepernick (50%) posted this past decade.

Garoppolo came in to lead a very bad 1-10 49ers team, and ended the season with a 6-10 record. Then he lost the vast majority of the 2018 season with an ACL injury. When looking at his 2019 season, it is easily the best season any 49ers quarterback has had since Jeff Garcia nearly 20 years ago.

Like Kapernick, Garoppolo also led the 49ers to the Super Bowl.

From a statistical standpoint. Garoppolo has been the 49ers best passer this decade. However, his body of work is still relatively small when talking about being an All-Decade quarterback.

The 49ers All-Decade Quarterback: Colin Kaepernick

Kaepernick is well deserving of this All-Decade selection, as he has had more playoff success than any other 49ers quarterback since Steve Young. Unlike other quarterbacks this decade, the team counted on Kaepernick to be the one to win them playoff games.

He led the 49ers through the frozen tundra and beat “Superman Cam” in Carolina over the course of a two week period. His signature “Kaepernicking” pose swept the nation, and people all over the United States could be seen kissing their biceps.

For a moment, Kaepernick looked like he was going to be one of the best dual threat quarterbacks in NFL history. Although that didn’t end up happening, there is no denying his high level of play over his first few seasons.

Colin Kaepernick is the San Francisco 49ers All-Decade QB.

Follow me on Twitter: @NinerNick_22

Click here to find more about the 49er All-Decade project and follow along to the All-Decade tracker below!

K: Phil Dawson

P: Andy Lee

KR/PR: Ted Ginn Jr.

Safety: Dashon Goldson

Safety: Donte Whitner

Cornerback #1: Carlos Rogers

Cornerback #2: Richard Sherman

Cornerback #3: Tarell Brown

Linebacker #1: NaVorro Bowman

Linebacker #2 : Patrick Willis

Linebacker #3: Fred Warner

Defensive Lineman #1: Aldon Smith

D-Lineman #2: Justin Smith

D-Lineman #3: Ahmad Brooks

D-Lineman #4: DeForest Buckner

*Defensive Flex*: Eric Reid

Right Tackle: Anthony Davis

Right Guard: Alex Boone

Center: Jonathan Goodwin

Left Guard: Mike Iupati

Left Tackle: Joe Staley

Tight End: Vernon Davis

Wide Receiver #1: Anquan Boldin

Wide Receiver #2: Michael Crabtree

Wide Receiver #3: Kendrick Bourne

Fullback: Kyle Juszczyk

Running Back #1: Frank Gore

Running Back #2: Raheem Mostert

Quarterback: Colin Kaepernick

*Offensive Flex*:

Head Coach: Jim Harbaugh 

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