It's hard to say how far they would have gone if Smith was still around. One thing I do know is that when the 49ers let go of Smith he was 7-0. He then went on to play under a whole new team and vouching staff and went 10-0. So that's 17 games undefeated. Believe me I was one of the fans wanting to give him the ax after so many years sucking. But that was also due to bad coaching and management by the niners staff.
I agree, Kaep absolutely needs better decision making. He also needs to learn how to perform under pressure. Sure, we gave smith a huge learning curve but can we afford to do the same for Kaep? I don't think so. An alternative? Not sure I have one at this point.