He's an example of guys (in this case, Harbaugh) valuing long-term benefits over short term gains.
That's something our staff didn't do with Newton.
I sincerely wish they had.
Harbaugh had enough confidence in his coaching and scheme that he could put a good product on the field with Smith. However, even Harbaugh couldn't have know how strong the team was until he saw them on the field. And there is no way he could have pulled a healthy Smith last year in the midst of that season.
Colin started because he had to, and looked great. Now Harbaugh has a reason to switch things up for awhile. We'll see whether that turns out to be the right decision over time.
In our case, JR and MH wanted Newton to start day 1 and told Ron and Chud that Cam's development was more important than winning immediately. The problems came because we have neither the defense, nor the o-line, nor the coaching quality the Niners do.
All sitting him would have done is probably given Marty and Ron et al another year, and that is not a good thing.
As far as any damage done to Newton in this process, I think he is confident enough to overcome it once he has the right leadership guiding him.