Harbaugh on QBs: 'Opposite of controversy'
Published: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 5:15 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 10:47 p.m.
SANTA CLARA — Alex Smith finds himself in familiar territory: Unsure if he's the 49ers' starting quarterback.
Coach Jim Harbaugh set no timeline in naming a starter for Sunday's game at New Orleans, and with Smith still recovering from a concussion, Colin Kaepernick remains an attractive option to make a second straight start.
“Anytime the next guy steps up and plays well, it's good for the team. Let's not get this wrong,” Smith said Wednesday. “Now, does it complicate things for me and Colin? I mean, yeah.
“... There's only one guy who can be under center. It's part of the deal. But this is a good thing for this team. This is a good problem. Those are decisions for Coach.”
Smith expects to earn full medical clearance for a Sunday return, although he also felt good a week ago before post-concussion symptoms resurfaced after he “tried to push it” all week in practice.
With Smith sidelined for Monday night's 32-7 win over the Chicago Bears, Kaepernick threw for 243 yards and two touchdowns to win his first career start.
“To me, it's the opposite of a controversy,” Harbaugh said. “A controversy is an argument from opposing points of view. This is coming at it from a team aspect.”
Kaepernick echoed that team-first mantra and believes his dynamic with Smith remains unfazed.
“We've always been at each other's side, we've always supported each other and we're going to keep doing that,” said Kaepernick, a second-round draft pick last year out of Nevada.
Smith wore a black, non-contact jersey in Wednesday morning's walk-through practice and was to wear it in the afternoon session. Smith practiced in that same capacity last week while unspecified symptoms lingered.
“It just wasn't right,” Smith said of his condition. “And doctors didn't end up clearing me.”
Smith's focus is on getting healthy rather than getting his job back from Kaepernick, with whom he's shared many discussions before, during and after Monday's breakout start.
“In my opinion, if you can't be happy for your teammate's success, you're playing the wrong sport. Go play tennis or golf or something,” Smith said.
Immediately after Monday night's win, Harbaugh declared that he'll ride the quarterback with the “hot hand,” quickly adding that both Smith and Kaepernick possess that quality.
“We feel great about it,” Harbaugh said Wednesday. “This isn't one of those situations where you have the aging starting quarterback and everyone is clamoring for the young backup, or you have a struggling guy and they want the next guy, or the young guy is in there struggling and people are clamoring for the backup.
“It's a unique situation. We have two really good guys, two guys we believe in.”
Kaepernick received a ceremonial game ball for his efforts, as did linebacker Aldon Smith, tight end Vernon Davis, defensive tackle Justin Smith, linebacker Patrick Willis and fullback Bruce Miller.
When Kaepernick received word Sunday night that he would start, he said he told only family members before proceeding with “business as usual.”
For Smith, uncertainty often has accompanied his job description since the 49ers selected him first overall in 2005. He stated he's been in “a few of these” situations but they're all different.
“It's not easy. It can be complicated,” Smith added. “But it's a good problem for the 49ers, it's a good problem for us as a team. There's only one ball, though, and that's what makes it tough.
“We'll see how it goes.”
Harbaugh did not speak with the media Tuesday, cancelling a conference call while undergoing a follow-up evaluation for last Thursday's procedure on his irregular heartbeat.
“I believe we've got that one licked,” Harbaugh said of his health issue.
Upon reviewing film, Kaepernick said the “biggest things” that struck him were his inability to complete a couple of more passes, specifically a deep throw to Vernon Davis, and some sideline throws.
Kaepernick's first NFL appearance came in an exhibition-opening blowout loss at New Orleans, when he got sacked four times in relief of Smith.
“Bad memories,” he said. “It was an all-out fest when we played them last time. Hopefully we'll have a better performance.”
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