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Scouting Notebook: Gold exchange

Michael Salfino
Yahoo Sports

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The 49ers have handed the reins of the offense over to Colin Kaepernick. (Getty)

Colin Kaepernick is the hot commodity in fantasy football. It's very clear now that the Niners have benched Alex Smith despite a 104 passer rating and all the success he's had under Jim Harbaugh. It's terribly unfair to Smith but we can all see that San Francisco is much tougher to defend with Kaepernick running the offense.

So much for Kaepernick's chemistry with Vernon Davis, though. This is a coaching issue, not a quarterback issue. The Niners refuse to move Davis around and create mismatches and some tough choices for the defense. This will hurt them against better teams like the Packers and Giants.

The referees played a big role in Week 12 with a couple of calls that don't pass the smell test.

Blame the league for the stupid penalty rule that eliminates a review when a coach throws the challenge flag on a scoring play. Though it couldn't happen to a more deserving jerk than Jim Schwartz. But if that rule was motioned in our fantasy leagues, no one would second it because it's just unbelievably stupid. Yet it's put into the books in the NFL, which is run by highly paid professionals. Go figure.

The Ray Rice call was even worse. If a guy 5-foot-6 is kneeling with the ball on his chest (at best) at the 35 yard line, it's not possible to mark the ball at the 33.5 yard line, which is 4.5 feet past the point where his knees hit. If Rice was about seven feet tall, maybe that makes some sense. That's the second time since 2000 that a fourth down and 29 or more has been converted (well, technically).

Andre Johnson is on pace for over 1,500 receiving yards and also on pace to shatter the record for fewest TDs with that many yards – six each by Torry Holt (2000) and Jimmy Smith (1999). The median is 12 TDs for the 29 receivers who have reached that yardage threshold.

If we were playing Madden, we'd have to agree that it's illegal to use Robert Griffin III in the Pistol Formation because there really is no defense for it. But Mike Shanahan doesn't need to worry about being sporting.

Pierre Garcon looks like a No. 1 fantasy wide receiver again given the burst he showed on his touchdown grab. The great hands and body control were nice, too.

Tony Romo is having a down year even in passer rating, but my new system that just looks at the QB's rate of producing rushing and passing TDs (including sacks and rushing attempts as plays) minus their rate of producing turnovers (including fumbles lost) downgrades him to the point I think Cowboys fans will agree. Have a look, but stats are only through Thanksgiving.

New England tied a record with their third game of 49 or more points. But again Brandon Lloyd does little. Tom Brady and Lloyd every week look like they got together on the field that day for the first time.

Yep, add Knowshon Moreno if you haven't already. Moreno is nothing special, though.

If you have Jamaal Charles you have to play him because he's so good but you can't get a worse set up. No one can play QB in KC. But I guess Brady Quinn is the lesser evil. Dwayne Bowe had 12 targets – for 41 receiving yards. I've seen more precision passing on this field.

There obviously is a limit to the touches you want to give C.J. Spiller, but 15 (out of 58 plays) is way too light when you are scoring one touchdown against a terrible Colts defense.

Charlie Batch has been on the Steelers for 10 years and has thrown only 242 passes more for them than me. The Steelers should have long ago found an athlete who can run around and make a play. Byron Leftwich is terrible, too. Pittsburgh is a dead zone without Ben Roethlisberger.

All four Steelers running backs lost fumbles on Sunday, which I'm sure will make Mike Tomlin happy. I think it's safe to say that is a first in football history.

BenJarvis Green-Ellis is a ham and egger, which is Jersey speak for something you eat when you're hungry but don't go out of your way to buy. The Raiders rolled out the red carpet, too, predictably.

Reggie Bush was very useful Sunday against a top-shelf Seattle defense. I understand not getting the goal-line work and even splitting carries. But why have him on the team, Miami, if he's going to catch 24 passes in 11 games?

Russell Wilson gave you something on the ground finally but I would have bet big money that he would have a couple of rushing TDs by now and he has none. Without four-to-six of them, he's a fringe starter in 12-team leagues next year.

Michael Turner looks like the Michelin Man out there. Okay, the Michelin Man seems to be running with more purpose there, I'll grant you. Put him under 10 feet of water on a lake bed of mud and cement shoes and you have Turner. Jacquizz Rodgers is not built for every-down duty, however.

Michael Bush isn't anything special but you have to pick him up if Matt Forte is out for a while.

I think Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon are both top 30 or so wide receivers as long as Chad Henne is the Jaguars quarterback.

Kenny Britt has been a bust and I don't think we can draft his upside next year because we don't know the extent to which injuries have eroded it.
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