How ex-49er Davis compares Jimmy G-Lance saga to Kap-Smith drama originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Former 49ers tight end Vernon Davis knows a thing or two about tricky quarterback dynamics.
After all, he was a front-row spectator in 2012 when Colin Kaepernick replaced a concussed Alex Smith under center and remained the team’s starter moving forward.
While the two situations clearly have their differences, Davis stopped by 95.7 The Game’s “Damon and Ratto” show Thursday and compared the Kaepernick-Smith switch to Jimmy Garoppolo’s return as a backup behind Trey Lance.
Davis’ perspective as a player is unique, especially because he threw his support behind Smith before Kaepernick officially was named starter nearly a decade ago.
“[Smith] was playing really well, and I’m sure a lot of guys can attest to that, and we respected him and we wanted to see him do really, really well,” Davis said. “But then you have an outstanding quarterback and a guy like Colin Kaepernick who comes along, and he’s just as good as Alex.
“... It’s not that guys didn’t love Kaepernick, we loved both of them. But we got acquainted and used to Alex Smith being that guy for us.”
The decision by Jim Harbaugh to move forward with Kaepernick was shocking to some, while others felt it was warranted given the way he performed as Smith recovered. For Davis, the switch came less than a year after Smith tossed him “The Catch III” in one of the most memorable 49ers moments of this millennium.
Still, it wasn’t difficult for the team to throw their support behind Kaepernick, too, Davis said.
“It was a business. [Harbaugh] wanted to let us understand that, make it known to us that, ‘Hey, this is a business, guys, and we have to make the best decision that’s best for the team in order to win the championship,’ ” Davis said.
It was business as usual for the 49ers on Thursday, too, as Garoppolo returned to practice for the first time since taking a pay cut to remain on the team -- a move coach Kyle Shanahan believes gives the team its best chance to win this season. Similar to 2012, San Francisco’s one-time starter is now a backup behind an up-and-coming youngster.
It’s also no secret that Garoppolo was supported by the 49ers’ locker room last season. Plenty of players have been vocal about their belief in Lance as starter this year, however, and Davis doesn’t see that changing even if the 22-year-old struggles at the season’s start.
“Trey is a young guy. He still has a lot of room to grow and he’s going to continue to grow,” Davis said. “And if he’s not performing the way they expect to perform … You still have to believe in that kind of guy because he has all of the upside.
“...It happened like that with Colin Kaepernick when he first got there, right? He wasn’t ready right away. It just so happened that those games that they put him in, he was ready to go and something clicked for him. It was just his time, and that could be the same kind of situation with Trey Lance and Jimmy G, but we don’t know yet. We have to see.”
Kaepernick’s success as starter was an example of preparation meeting opportunity, Davis added, and he believes Lance has a chance to do the same.
If so, the 49ers might have struck gold with a switch at quarterback once again.
“If this is the right opportunity and Trey is well prepared for the moment, then he’ll do really well,” Davis said. “No question about it.”