As the 49ers begin their Super Bowl quest in earnest this Saturday, the real test for Jim Harbaugh’s quarterback switch begins. The issue, of course, is that Harbaugh believes Colin Kaepernick can take the 49ers one game further than Alex Smith did last season.
When the switch was made, many were reminded of what happened to the Patriots when Tom Brady took over for an injured Drew Bledsoe and led New England to a Super Bowl win. That was not the only time a quarterback who wasn’t the opening day starter took over and led his team to the Super Bowl. Our statistics guru, Dave Feldman (not related to our 49ers host Dave Feldman) looked up the info and it is listed in the chart below.
Following is a list of Super Bowl quarterbacks who did not open the season as the starter:
|Year||QB||Team||Game Took Over||Opening Day Starter||SB W-L|
|1970||Craig Morton||Cowboys||4||Roger Staubach||L|
|1971||Roger Staubach||Cowboys||8 (full-time)||Craig Morton||W|
|1974||Terry Bradshaw||Steelers||7||Joe Gilliam||W|
|1979||Vince Ferragamo||Rams||12||Pat Haden||L|
|1980||Jim Plunkett||Raiders||6||Dan Pastorini||W|
|1990||Jeff Hostetler||Giants||15||Phil Simms||W|
|2000||Trent Dilfer||Ravens||9||Tony Banks||W|
|2001||Tom Brady||Patriots||3||Drew Bledsoe||W|
|2003||Jake Delhomme||Panthers||2||Rodney Peete||L|
Some notes not on the above graphic. Brady was 24-years-old and Bradshaw 26, so it’s already been done at about the same age as the 25-year-old Kaepernick. Only Vince Ferragamo and Jeff Hostetler took over later in the season than Kaepernick has. Four of the six Super Bowl winning quarterbacks listed above, went on to multiple Super Bowls wins with Trent Dilfer and Jeff Hostetler as the two exceptions.
The 1970 Cowboys were a strange case. Craig Morton replaced future Hall of Famer Roger Staubach in 1970 and lost the big game. The next year, Morton got all the playing time in the first two games with the two quarterbacks switching back and forth after that until Staubach took over for good in Game 8. I don't think there's much chance of that happening next season with the 49ers.
The NFC Divisional game against the Packers is just hours away and soon we will know if the hopes of Coach Harbaugh and all 49ers fans are still possible--Colin Kaepernick’s name being added to this list of Super Bowl quarterbacks.