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Harbaugh does little to quiet 49ers QB controversy

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San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh did little to dampen thoughts of a quarterback controversy brewing after an outstanding performance from Colin Kaepernick against the Chicago Bears on Monday night.

Kaepernick was terrific in completing 16 of 23 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions against one of the top defenses in the league.

“Thought Colin did an outstanding job,” Harbaugh said. “Thought he did a great job. Poise in the pocket, throwing with accuracy, did a nice job running the game plan. Everything he did was just exemplary. Really acquitted himself great and was really proud of him for that.”

Harbaugh was asked after the game if Kaepernick would be the 49ers starter now going forward following that performance.

“We’ll see. Usually tend to go with the guy who’s got the hot hand and we’ve got two quarterbacks that have got a hot hand,” Harbaugh said.

It’s hard to be much hotter than what Kaepernick managed to put together against the Bears. Then again, Alex Smith has thrown just two incompletions in the 49ers last two games before leaving last week’s game against the St. Louis Rams with a concussion. Smith is 25 for his last 27 for 304 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.

Harbaugh said that they made the decision Sunday that Kaepernick would start against Chicago but didn’t know until Monday morning that Smith would ultimately be unavailable. He said Kaepernick got all the reps for the 49ers in practice on Saturday and Sunday.

Kaepernick has done everything to make it a legitimate debate. Kaepernick went 11 of 17 for 117 yards along with 66 yards and a touchdown on the ground in relief of Smith last week. Coupled with his performance Monday night, it seems Harbaugh will have a decision to make this week.

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59 Responses to “Harbaugh does little to quiet 49ers QB controversy”
  1. channingtaintum says: Nov 20, 2012 12:30 AM

    It won’t be a real controversy unless Alex comes back, doesn’t perform, and the crowd turns on him and starts chanting for Colin.

    With that said, let’s get some comments approved on these posts already, it’s 9:30 on the west coast and fans want to celebrate.

  2. norcalmafia says: Nov 20, 2012 12:30 AM

    I dont know how you dont start this guy next week..Alex is a great guy but he doesnt make plays like Kap does..Hes always played scared..I havent seen an explosive passing like that around here in a while..Sorry Alex but your conservative play you get praised for is ultimately your downfall.

  3. aaroncurryisbust says: Nov 20, 2012 12:36 AM

    As a Seahawk fan, I feel like Kaepernick’s emergence has us doomed for the next ten seasons :(

  4. mrplow3 says: Nov 20, 2012 12:38 AM

    In my opinion, it would be crazy to turn over a championship caliber team to a kid with one start under his belt when your current QB has been playing at a pro bowl level all year.

    I don’t know how you do that, honestly I don’t.

  5. bnwpnw says: Nov 20, 2012 12:39 AM

    Ever since Harbaugh’s non-pursuit pursuit of Peyton Manning, it was pretty clear that Harbaugh didn’t have Alex’s back and was looking for an excuse to move on.

    And here it is.

  6. oldfart49 says: Nov 20, 2012 12:40 AM

    Kap had the best first game I’ve seen. Esp since Chicago has a solid defense. Alton had a great game, but it was against a pitiful O line.
    With his big arm and escapability, it’s Kap unless you’re timid. Have seen too much timidity from the Niners in recent years. Go Kaptain Kourages.

  7. brenenostler says: Nov 20, 2012 12:40 AM

    With Harbaugh at the helm, Smith has always played well. Kaepernick had one good game. Just leave Smith in.

  8. jprey86 says: Nov 20, 2012 12:40 AM

    There is no doubt kaepernick will be the starting qb for the Niners, but he’s going to have to wait a couple more years. This is still Alex Smith’s job.

  9. sprtly says: Nov 20, 2012 12:40 AM

    The truth of it is, any QB can succeed behind that O-line. Not to take anything away from Colin K, I’ve been a huge supporter of bringing him in, but let’s keep it in perspective. Colin did show poise in the pocket and firm decision making and judging by both on field reaction and post game chatter, his teammates really like him behind center. Still think the niners should stick with Smith until he shows he can’t handle the job. Kaepernick is the QB of the future, just not sure that future is immediate.

  10. waxthat says: Nov 20, 2012 12:55 AM

    This team can win the Super Bowl with either, but Kaepernick looked like the real deal tonight.

  11. goldrush36 says: Nov 20, 2012 12:56 AM

    I think they should stay with Alex for now. Kaepernick did some great things but the bears prepared all week for Alex. Do think the leash will at least get shorter though

  12. tiggerblood says: Nov 20, 2012 12:58 AM

    Do it let’s see if he can keep getting the ball downfield if he can then he would be an improvement to the offense.

  13. richiesaurus310 says: Nov 20, 2012 1:23 AM

    It’ll be kind of ironic if Kap takes over this team against the team Alex had his best game of his career against the Saints in the playoffs last season.

  14. harrisbarton says: Nov 20, 2012 1:46 AM

    As a Niner fan who has watched every game of the Alex Smith era I have never seen him throw a pass as beautiful as that 57-yarder that Kaep threw to Kyle Williams.

  15. tindeaux says: Nov 20, 2012 1:46 AM

    after the game against the bears, i don’t see how alex can be the starter without a fair challange from Kaepernick. The guy can throw, run, in and out of pocket. this guys kaepenick will make alex smith looks bad as a first overall.

  16. hackphx says: Nov 20, 2012 1:53 AM

    harbaugh knows what he’s doing. he and baalke have always wanted competition at every position. now they have it. hot hand isn’t your arm it’s composure. both qb’s have it.

  17. rj2323 says: Nov 20, 2012 1:54 AM

    I’m a big fan of Alex smith I think he could win them a Super Bowl but honestly this doesn’t look good for him Collin played absolutely terrific tonight against a great defense

  18. stevedigre says: Nov 20, 2012 2:07 AM

    It’s only one game. You know how these things go. Stay with what got ya here, always.

  19. rainponcho87 says: Nov 20, 2012 2:37 AM

    CK did several things tonight that Alex just doesn’t do. Some of the throws were great, accurate, deep throws that you just don’t see Alex make. Alex takes a lot of sacks when he should throw the ball away more. Those are drive killers or put the team out of field goal range. CK took just one sack. CK’s td throw to Crabtree is a play Alex just doesn’t make. He extended the play outside the pocket, went to his 4th option and threw across his body. And of course, CK extends plays or picks up yards with his feet very well. It is going to be a tough choice because Alex looks good stat-wise, except for total passing yards (49ers are at the bottom of league there). I think what is going to happen is that if Alex stays the starter, he is going to get pulled if he has a performance like he did against the Giants.

  20. nineroutsider says: Nov 20, 2012 2:47 AM

    If Alex can’t go this week, he might actually lose his job this season as crazy as that sounds…if Kaep can do this again on the road against a good team that blitzes a lot more than the Bears. Let’s not forget that playing QB is sometimes about standing in there and reading blitzes and taking hits and being smart. Alex has seen a lot of blitzes and a lot of games. It’s not like he’s having a bad season with that 104.1 QB rating.

    Either way I feel good about the team, but I think Alex is the guy who wins in the playoffs in those grinder type games. Although he didn’t against the Giants.

    Alex was quoted a saying “They don’t want me talking right now” in response to continued questioning about his health. Turns out they made the decision to start Kaep on Sunday before learning Alex wasn’t cleared although it was known that Alex was regressing. I wonder if he suffered more damage than they originally thought? Hope not. Alex might have just got Wally Pipped though (or Drew Bledsoed if you don’t know about Pipp.)

  21. ninerdynasty says: Nov 20, 2012 2:52 AM

    mrplow3 says: Nov 20, 2012 12:38 AM

    In my opinion, it would be crazy to turn over a championship caliber team to a kid with one start under his belt when your current QB has been playing at a pro bowl level all year.

    I don’t know how you do that, honestly I don’t.
    —————————————-

    Tell that to the Patriots… they’ll tell you how..

  22. rhymeswithpunt says: Nov 20, 2012 3:25 AM

    That was electric. Bears D couldn’t handle the quick throws into smooth, well executed routes by the receiver. Niners have proved they can play physical and win games on defense without silly PI or getting penalized on D in general. Jim Harbaugh’s game planning is intense. He’s the next of the greats.

  23. tszczotka says: Nov 20, 2012 3:55 AM

    Iv gone to school with kaep, he lead us (Nevada) to one of our highest rankings; and everyone in the Reno area loves him for that. But he is still young, will he take over as starting QB? I think so, but in a year or so; he is still learning. Till then Alex will will lead. Give kaep time to develop, then we dominate.

  24. zillabeast says: Nov 20, 2012 4:11 AM

    Any of my fellow 49ers will tell you, Alex has always played poorly against top defenses, both at home and abroad. What Kaepernick did tonight was chilling. Furthermore, people seem to forget that he was just about the only thing that kept the 49ers in last week’s game long enough to force the tie. He’s the real deal.

    Sending Alex out to the Superdome to start in a playoff-like environment after a concussion would be career suicide. We’ve seen it happen over and the end result would be a crucifixion at the hands of both Bay Area and national media calling for CK7. The controversy would meet a very abrupt end.

    You Smith supporters should actually hope Kap gets one more week. Hope that he falters enough to get Alex his job back in a much more manageable game in St. Louis.

    On the other hand, if Kap starts and decimates the Saints like he did the Bears, then it’s high time for the Smith crowd to give in for what’s bet for the team.

    Bottom line, is playing Alex in New Orleans this weekend would be setting him up to fail. Sure he might win, but if he does not….oh boy, get ready to hear it. On the other hand, if it’s Kap, damage control becomes much easier for all parties to handle.

  25. jnova80 says: Nov 20, 2012 4:22 AM

    Of course Harbaugh doesn’t know what to do right now, how could you not be in shock after watching your back up QB dismantle one of the top defenses in the league? I still think Alex will get the start because he really hasn’t done anything wrong this year to lose that spot. But it does mean that his leash gets a little tighter, if he has an off game or two Harbaugh will not hesitate to put in Kaep. Hopefully this means we’ll see more “Wild Kaep” though.

  26. fanz928 says: Nov 20, 2012 4:47 AM

    One game and already talking about changing qb?

  27. joetoronto says: Nov 20, 2012 5:16 AM

    The same people who have blindly defended Alex Smith for some time now have turned on him after one good game from Kaepernick.

    Talk about fickle, wow.

  28. phelbin says: Nov 20, 2012 5:28 AM

    I gotta admin Kaep played better than I thought he would, but let’s get a little perspective. Anyone who thinks this will spark a QB controversy in SF hasn’t watched the 49ers play the last two seasons. “Alex the game manager” is a thing of the past. But in case you need proof, here’s what he’s done the last season and a half:

    19 wins, 5 losses. 461 comp 730 att for 5,370 yards and a 63% comp rate. 35 TD’s and just 10 Int. That’s a 94.5 QB rating.

    He’s no longer just a game manager, and there won’t be a QB controversy…not this season anyway.

  29. electionconfidential says: Nov 20, 2012 5:36 AM

    Awfully late in the season to make a quarterback switch when you’ve already got a great record. Harbaugh might do well to dance with the one that brought him.

  30. mungman69 says: Nov 20, 2012 5:42 AM

    Alex Smith has played well in the playoffs and is playing well this year. They have to go with Smith.

  31. bcjim says: Nov 20, 2012 6:12 AM

    What is with all the tats btw? Have to admit, not seeing him here on the Coast, I didn’t even know he was black. He did look good for sure.

  32. arrows80 says: Nov 20, 2012 6:26 AM

    This is why I’ve always been in favor of drafting and developing young guys instead of keeping a Jason Campbell-like retread around. In the NFL, the Campbells end up having to play eventually.

  33. Matt-NC says: Nov 20, 2012 6:35 AM

    There’s no game film on him. Teams couldn’t study him. Plus the teddies are overrated.

    That being said, he did a great job. But let’s not anoint him just yet.

  34. z0inks says: Nov 20, 2012 7:04 AM

    Jeez….talk about indecisive. I mean, Harbaugh had all of what….maybe 5-10 minutes in between the end of the game and his postgame comments?

    Given that much time to reflect on Kaepernick’s performance and the team’s overall outlook over the remainder of the season, it’s ridiculous that he was unable to provide a definitive answer for such a relatively minor detail….like who the team’s starting QB will be .

  35. garyk66blog says: Nov 20, 2012 7:10 AM

    Kaepernick looks much more comfortable even after 1 start than Smith has looked all year. I’m not talking about results, because both have had success. I am referring to the timing and movement of the offense. It was absolutely beautiful last night!

  36. lionsdraftguy says: Nov 20, 2012 7:22 AM

    Kaepernick may be a good quarterback, but Jim Harbaugh is still a whiny little girl and the Niners team is still the least classy team in the league.

  37. jm8ch10 says: Nov 20, 2012 7:24 AM

    It would be premature to put him as the starter at this juncture. By the time the playoffs start, they will get a beat on his strengths and weaknesses. He hasn’t been battle tested but Alex has and will provide the best chance for a Super Bowl birth this season.

  38. jaxuar says: Nov 20, 2012 7:28 AM

    I have to admit…I thought this guy would be garbage. Wow, how he has proven me wrong!

  39. tdrundmc says: Nov 20, 2012 7:50 AM

    I didn’t know Alex Smith ever had a hot hand, he’s captain check down. Pretty obvious who the starting QB is going to be next week, Harbaugh just didn’t want to hurt Alices’ feelings.

  40. alewatcher says: Nov 20, 2012 7:54 AM

    Once again, the Bears failure to address their O-line and backup QB positions has come back to bite them in the @ss. (And I say that as a Bears fan)

    CK was awesome last night, no way around it. The 9ers are in the enviable position of actually having two QBs that can win games for them. CK has a great future ahead of him. Alex Smith has turned into a decent QB, after having been jerked around his first few years in the league. Harbaugh has definitely gotten the best out of Alex.

    Which guy do you go with? Tough call, but it’s a good problem to have.

  41. whatjusthapped says: Nov 20, 2012 8:19 AM

    Keep Smith in there. Against a good team in the playoffs, he will disappear right on schedule and then Harbaugh will have all off-season to think about it.

  42. smoothjimmyapollo says: Nov 20, 2012 8:37 AM

    As soon as teams notice that Kaepernick stares down and throws to his first read 95% of the time, he’ll have a 4 pick game, and the honeymoon will be over. There’s a reason this guy couldn’t beat out Alex Smith.

  43. samapoc says: Nov 20, 2012 8:38 AM

    Harbaugh is putting too much effort into generating a qb controversy to confuse the historically bad Saints defense.

  44. spharrgcs says: Nov 20, 2012 8:50 AM

    No sympathy for A Smith here. He has has multiple opportunities to secure his job and his uneven performances continue to allow for coaches to look for more out of the position. He seems like a good guy but the fact is Kaepernick make faster decisions and better decisions, and his ball was tighter and more on time. It was clear watching the receivers that he was getting the ball to them at the prime spots in their strides and with velocity. The offense looked like it added 2 cylinders, and clearly this makes Harbaugh very interested in what it can do with the right trigger-man at the helm.

  45. jeffharwell3 says: Nov 20, 2012 8:55 AM

    Harbaugh knows what he is doing once again.. by not naming a starter he is keeping a Aints guessing as who to game plan for… my guess is Smith starts because he has earned it. Harbaugh once again puts all the attention on himself by creating a “qb controversy”. He is a genius when it comes to these things. Best coach in the nfl in my opinion

  46. worldwidebleater says: Nov 20, 2012 8:56 AM

    Then Harbaugh punched himself in the scrotum, to remind everbody what a tough guy he is.

  47. SOBEIT says: Nov 20, 2012 9:01 AM

    Yes, Colin looked great passing, running, escaping, etc. But what was most impressive were his adjustements at the line of scrimmage while evaluating the defense. That to me showed the level of maturity most young players struggle with. But it is just a few games…and still Alex’s to lose…but the rope just got a lot shorter.

    Bottom line, this is Alex’s last year as the starter unless he goes and wins the SuperBowl. His contract is not guaranteed the next 2 years. I think the receivers were finally excited to be a part of the game. Colin’s timing to receivers was really perfect. If you watch the game again and other games by Alex…see how many times the receivers are catching while running in motion. With Alex, they have to jump, dive or are flat footed and limited to no RACs.

    The future is bright…especially for Niner fans who believe that all the championship pieces are on the team and just one tweak make the team from really good to great!

  48. silasw33 says: Nov 20, 2012 9:06 AM

    I can see that Kyle had an excellent group of plays put together for him on his home field and with limited tape on him. All of these things working heavily in his favor.

    But, consider this…that was the Chicago Bears Defense. No one does that to them…but he did!

  49. jbuckland0421 says: Nov 20, 2012 9:13 AM

    I’d like to site an example of a backup coming in a wreaking havoc on a team that was supposed to destroy them, and that would be the Vikings and Joe Webb against the eagles a couple years ago. The eagles didn’t have the film they needed on Webb and struggled against his dynamics throughout the entirety of the game. Now a couple of things I want to point out being that Joe Webb is not the same caliber of a quarterback compared to Kaepernick but it is somewhat of the same situation aside from the fact that the niners do have a much better football team than the Vikings did. I really liked what I saw from Kap and I’d like to see more. He’s got great field vision and instincts and I believe he’d add more of a threat than Alex Smith while running the offense. Alex Smith is very conservative where as Kap can loosen up a defense like we saw last night. I think it’s a very interesting situation and I’m looking forward to seeing what becomes of the QB position in San Francisco.

  50. realitypolice says: Nov 20, 2012 9:27 AM

    Smith’s play has earned him the right to keep his job, period. The 49ers now know that they are set at the QB position and Kap is more than capable to take over if Smith falters.

    But I think we need to see that happen before he’s benched.

    And to the guy that says sending Smith into the Superdome to start next week would be career suicide- Ummm……have you seen the Saints defense?

  51. lionsdraftguy says: Nov 20, 2012 10:07 AM

    Hey wheres AJ Jenkins at? Remember, the guy the Niners reached for and big mouth Harbaugh said was a #1 WR?

  52. nflgiant says: Nov 20, 2012 11:36 AM

    Alex Smith does not inspire his team the way Brady,(2-Mannings),Brees,Rogers,Big Ben.he just is not in that class and never will than be,that said he is better than 80% of the rest.Its too bad you lose your job to injury,but lets be real Kaep,has much more to offer than Smith has.Harbaugh has to go with his gut.

  53. headonaswivel says: Nov 20, 2012 12:42 PM

    Lets not get ahead of ourselves here people. Kaepernick played very well against a good defense, which had a turrible day, but the Bears play a base defense almost every snap.

    The Niners had a great game plan for Kaepernick and it showed. Their offensive line is awesome, and that helped him out a ton. The thing that I was most impressed with was his accuracy on the deep balls. However, watching the game he threw to his primary read on every throw but one, and I did take note, which was the Crabtree TD. In other words he stuck to the game plan, knowing he’d be seeing man coverage for the entire game… again great game planning by the staff.

    Kaepernick has a great future ahead of him, but I think you have to ride with Alex Smith for the remainder of this season, next season though watch out Smith.

  54. buffaloniner says: Nov 20, 2012 2:52 PM

    And my guess is we still won’t know who’s starting until, ooooh I don’t know, right around game time next week. Call it what you want but what this really boils down to is intelligent coaching. If presented with an opportunity to keep the opposing defense guessing about who to prepare for, a smart coach will jump on it. The media dropped gold in Jim’s lap with their eagerness to make a 49ers “QB controversy”.

  55. thermalito says: Nov 20, 2012 3:54 PM

    Call it what you want kids, but this is the beginning of the end for Alex Smith. Kaepernick is the real deal and Smith will never be anything more than a mediocre game manager.

  56. dallascowboysdishingthereal says: Nov 20, 2012 4:45 PM

    Harbaugh is a brilliant coach that is creating a little healthy competition between both QBs. It only makes them play better. Other coaches would be wise to take notes. Namely Jason Garrett who praises Romo no matter how crappy he plays.

  57. robertocfg says: Nov 20, 2012 6:18 PM

    I get the feeling that the people that are saying that the reins of the offense should be given to CK are descendants of the ones that thought that Roger Staubach should have been benched in favor of Clint Longley.

    Yes, Kaepernick had an amazing game, I’m not saying he didn’t. But relax, people. It’s one game. Alex Smith has been playing great. There was no film on Kaepernick and the Bears were overconfident. If CK is named starter, I’d give teams 2 or 3 weeks to figure him out.

    Not saying that CK is not good. He played great and looks like a future NFL starter. But one game does not a career make.

  58. decon49 says: Nov 20, 2012 9:24 PM

    lionsdraftguy says:
    Nov 20, 2012 10:07 AM
    Hey wheres AJ Jenkins at? Remember, the guy the Niners reached for and big mouth Harbaugh said was a #1 WR?

    its called drafting for the future. we get it, youre jealous.

  59. megalodon1013 says: Nov 21, 2012 10:27 AM

    Kap is the man. I wonder if he does start next week and has a bad game, will everyone jump off of his band wagon? I’ve always pulled for Alex, but Kap has an outrageous arm. He throw further down the field running than Smith can with his feet set. With Kap in, R. Moss really seems like a threat. Kap stretches the field. Alex makes sure we don’t turn the ball over.

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