49ers offensive tackle Joe Staley is supposedly upset with Jim Harbaugh's decision to start Kaepernick's "hot hand" instead of returning to Alex Smith post-concussion. Staley and Smith are known to be good friends, and reports within the last week say that Smith is not taking the demotion too well. Staley is not, either.
ESPN's Adam Schefter said this on SportsCenter:
“It’s not just 49ers fans fans who have gotten emotional about the decision to bench Alex Smith and start Colin Kaepernick.
“It turns out that offensive tackle Joe Staley has as well. One day during practice last week when 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh noticed Staley seemed down, he pulled him aside, and the two had a discussion about it.
“Staley explained that Alex Smith is his best friend, somebody he had blocked for throughout his entire career and he was disappointed to see Smith treated the way he was.
“Harbaugh explained why he made the decision that he did to Staley. It’s not that Staley didn’t believe that Kaepernick could do the job, but he felt that strongly about his friendship for Smith and the job that he has done.
“It just goes to show you that there is more emotion involved in a simple decision than to just go with Colin Kaepernick at this point in time.”A divide in the locker room was what everyone feared would happen if Harbaugh chose Kaepernick over Smith. It reportedly only took one loss for reports to surface supporting that situation, as Staley is a giant influence among 49ers players.
If the reports are true, there is no one else to blame but Harbaugh. He got greedy with what he had, and instead of starting a safe quarterback that got them to the NFC Championship one year ago, he took a gamble on a young up-and-coming star yet to prove himself in the NFL.
Harbaugh toyed with the team's emotions, and now there is reportedly a full-fledged divide in the locker room with a 8-3-1 team with one-time Super Bowl aspirations.