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Smith says Kaepernick will get first-team reps, but starting job still open

Injured San Francisco 49ers quarterback Smith walks out onto the playing field prior to game against the Chicago Bears in their NFL football game San Francisco Reuters

Well, well, well.  It looks like we’ve got a little ESPN-on-SI crime.

In response to a report from Jim Trotter of SI.com that 49ers quarterback Alex Smith has been told that Colin Kaepernick will start Sunday at New Orleans regarding of Smith’s health, ESPN producer Seth Markman has posted via Twitter that Smith has informed ESPN’s Trent Dilfer that the veteran quarterback has been told only that Kaepernick will get the first-team practice reps this week.

Per Dilfer (via Markman), Smith says that he still has a chance to start based on how he and Kaepernick perform in practice.

Dilfer and Smith were teammates for two years in San Francisco, from 2006 through 2007.

So it’s possible a decision hasn’t been made.  And the situation already is taking on a life of its own, which won’t make it any easier for coach Jim Harbaugh to make a decision (if a decision hasn’t been made) and to get his team to support it without doubt or question or second-guessing.

UPDATE 12:04 a.m. ET, 11/22/12:  Trotter has responded to the ESPN report via Twitter.  “i have great respect for [Dilfer] and alex smith, and stand behind my report. harbaugh to alex:  ‘I’m going with Kaepernick.  Alex, I’m sorry.'”

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34 Responses to “Smith says Kaepernick will get first-team reps, but starting job still open”
  1. skoobyfl says: Nov 21, 2012 11:40 PM

    I’d look at gameplay first.

  2. eastsideballa says: Nov 21, 2012 11:42 PM

    I bet I can throw a football over them mountains….

  3. thestrategyexpert says: Nov 21, 2012 11:42 PM

    I’d start Smith and take the punch on the chin, it’s too late now that the trade deadline passed. They need to give him credibility and hope he does well so they can trade him in the offseason. They didn’t figure out an exit strategy plan in advance properly, and now they have to take an automatic efficiency loss that they could have gained as a massive bonus from having 2 useful QBs. Sloppy roster asset mngmt.

  4. kane337 says: Nov 21, 2012 11:45 PM

    Speculation already starting….next year Alex Smith to the Cardinals.

  5. trailrunnerrr says: Nov 21, 2012 11:46 PM

    I’ll believe it when it when I see it.

    I’m no fan of Alex Smith but changing QBs this far into the season is absolutely insane. They’re 7-2-1! Some credit goes to Smith for their success. I didn’t see Green Bay hand the reigns to Flynn because of his stellar game last year.

  6. whiterock49er says: Nov 21, 2012 11:53 PM

    I think people are missing something here. I wonder what’s happening with New Orleans preparation for Sundays game. I bet their more confused and overreacting then anybody.

    Happy Thanksgiving N.O.

    As a great coach once said, “Gobble, gobble, turkey, gobble”

    Now it makes sense.

  7. smcgaels1997 says: Nov 21, 2012 11:56 PM

    He’s a vet, Kaep I’d young…no way to plan for that…besides 1 good game means nothing

  8. tigershark49 says: Nov 22, 2012 12:00 AM

    Should be a fun game to watch!

  9. pencepost says: Nov 22, 2012 12:01 AM

    If this team had 49 problems, finding a good quarterback ain’t one.

  10. musicman495 says: Nov 22, 2012 12:18 AM

    I think people are missing something here. I wonder what’s happening with New Orleans preparation for Sundays game. I bet their more confused and overreacting then anybody.
    —————————————
    I bet “their” not.

  11. dgrowe213 says: Nov 22, 2012 12:21 AM

    kaepernick is gonna own the saints D. The same QB that threw 5 INTs to the cardinals last week had a career high in yards against the saints the week before.

    kaepernick gives the 49ers the best chance to win.

  12. kylefitta says: Nov 22, 2012 12:27 AM

    Ladies and gentlemen, we are living history as we speak. This might be the most QB controversial decision ever, as it appears according to many sources that Kaeapernick will start.

    Remember, Alex Smith has been confirmed that he is healthy enough to play next week. This decision is strictly because Harbaugh believes Kaepernick is the best choice for this team. People always remind others that we shouldn’t overreact over one game, well I believe someone should have told Harbaugh this.

    Over the span of two years, Alex Smith is 19-5 with this team and led them to a NFC Championship game. Even though I am not a big stat guy – I find them somewhat misleading – Smith has the best QBR rating. It doesn’t at all mean that he is the third best QB in the league, but it does have merit behind it. He also has the highest completion percentage in the league of 70 percent and is averaging 7.98 yards per throw. And except for a Superbowl, Smith has been to every big game in the NFL. Kaepernick hasn’t even played a game on the road yet, which means no one knows how mentally tough he is.

    I truly believe Kaepernick will be the better QB. I love his mechanics, how he steps up strong in the pocket, his tight spiral, and his ability to extend plays with his legs. However, I don’t believe he’s ready yet for the big stage. After all, the Bears played a vanilla cover two Monday. Nobody knows how well he will do when he sees exotic coverages that he’s never seen in his live. If Smith started to struggle, sure, then you can decide to bring him in, but there aren’t any signs of that happening. Smith has been constantly effective this year.

    Harbaugh has more wits in his pinkie than I do in my brain about football. But I just don’t ccomprehend the logic of this decision.

  13. thestrategyexpert says: Nov 22, 2012 12:28 AM

    Thanks PFT for being on the ball with the current updates!

    And shame on your ESPN and Trent Dilfer for reporting stuff that you apparently got wrong. Do you realize reporting isn’t about guessing? It’s supposed to be about informing us of what actually happened, thus if you don’t know, then there is no report to make!

    Unless of course SI is lying somehow, but if not then ESPN and Dilfer should both be fined. And since they likely won’t be fined, then hopefully NFL fans boycott them appropriately, don’t go to them for news, or find other ways to not allow them to make money.

  14. 7ftgriff says: Nov 22, 2012 12:49 AM

    Dear God people. Matt Flynn started in week 17 against a bad defense. Colin Kaepernick started an important game in the middle of the season against the previously top ranked defense in the league. Kaepernick forced the issue Like Brady did to Bledsoe, this is not like other qb controversies.

  15. rd3777 says: Nov 22, 2012 12:49 AM

    Smith hasn’t been cleared yet. Harbaugh has to start Kaep. Untie your Johnson’s guys.

  16. nineroutsider says: Nov 22, 2012 1:01 AM

    I voted for Alex. This isn’t the right time to make the switch. But…in HarBaalke I trust.

  17. denverscott says: Nov 22, 2012 1:12 AM

    1 good game vs 70% completion rate for season(#1 in the league I believe) seems like a no-brainer.

  18. rickyspanish says: Nov 22, 2012 1:29 AM

    pencepost

    That was way too pukey.

  19. jimmygrahamchrisivory says: Nov 22, 2012 2:36 AM

    trailrunnerrr says:
    Nov 21, 2012 11:46 PM
    I’ll believe it when it when I see it.

    I’m no fan of Alex Smith but changing QBs this far into the season is absolutely insane. They’re 7-2-1! Some credit goes to Smith for their success. I didn’t see Green Bay hand the reigns to Flynn because of his stellar game last year.

    Did you really just say that?? I really respect Alex Smith and think he hasn’t been given a fair share early on in his career, but are you seriously comparing the Smith/Kaepernick situation, or really just Alex Smith, to Aaron Rodgers????? Wow. Aaron Rodgers is an annual MVP-caliber player and arguably the best QB in the league so I don’t think anyone was trying to call for Flynn starting over him because of a week 17 matchup against a weak Detroit secondary. Everyone knows what Rodgers is capable of.

    Although Smith has a decent W/L record over the last season and a half since Harbaugh came on board, almost all of that was largely due to SF’s D and Smith doing just enough to manage the game and keep the ship sailing. I doubt anyone would seriously choose him in a hurry f they needed a QB to rely on to make a huge comeback if down by 2 or 3 TD’s. Sure, he has a decent completion % and QB rating, but it’s not like he’s making big throws on a regular basis. I’m pretty sure before the season, some SF fans wanted to sign Flynn to come in and compete with Smith. Flynn and Smith are about what and what in talent, the edge slightly going to Flynn because he takes more chances down the field.

  20. cashcarewins says: Nov 22, 2012 2:42 AM

    So how does Trotter know what JH said in a private conversation with AS? Look at the intersection of both comments and you’ll see that CK starts in New Orleans. That is also the most logical decision since AS is still not cleared. It’s an easy way to get one more look at CK. There is no reason for JH to make a permanent decision, and anyone who follows him at all knows he will not make a final decision until he absolutely has to. If CK crushes the Saints like he did the Bears, there is no doubtl. If he throws 5 interceptions there is no doubt. We just have to see now.

  21. thermalito says: Nov 22, 2012 3:51 AM

    yea keep dreaming Alex. The 49ers finally have a QB who can handle more than 3 yard pass plays and taking sacks so it looks like its back to holding a clipboard for Noodle Arm.

  22. rolexwatchcollector says: Nov 22, 2012 4:23 AM

    Alex isn’t 100% . I think Harbaugh is making the right decision. The 49ers running game is on point right now. Their D is top 3 in the league. As long as they get pressure on Brees the will win this game by a 7-10 points. Who dat? Dat the 49ers!!!! NFC championship is going through SF again this year.

  23. eleventy4 says: Nov 22, 2012 4:34 AM

    Start Kaep vs Saints, pull him if he gets in trouble, name him starter if he excels. If it’s in between, who knows, but hopefully it works itself out. I love both guys, but it makes me sad to not get to see Smith go 2-0 vs the Ain’ts

  24. surferbum01 says: Nov 22, 2012 4:57 AM

    All these cats on here talking about it’s “crazy” and “Smith is the vet” and so on just aren’t realists. The fact is the mere presence of Kaepernick behind center forces secondaries to stay honest and genuinely be concerned for the deep throw EVERY play. Smith never….again…Smith has *never* had that kind of presence. There is one other major factor that was clearly manifest in Monday Night’s Game……#moxy. I’m grateful for the play of Alex Smith but everybody, eh almost everybody, had to see Smith was reaching his threshold and ceiling. New Orleans has a horrible secondary. It’s possible Kaep may carve them up for 400+ yards IF he can react to the blitzes they will assuredly bring.

  25. oaktown49er says: Nov 22, 2012 6:43 AM

    Tough choice. With Kaep in turnover’s likely go up, sacks down. Yards up and completion percentage down (maybe). Ultimately it comes down to Kaep’s ability to throw the deep ball. Yes Alex can go 6 for 6 for 55 yards but Kaep can go 1 for 1 for 55 yards. It should keep defenses more honest and open up space for Gore. Either way Alex is still a class act. Where’s he from? Oh yeah, stay classy San Diego.

  26. zillabeast says: Nov 22, 2012 7:19 AM

    Only in San Francisco, baby!

    Seriously though. The job Kaepernick did on the Bears was just flat-out undeniable. He deserves another shot, Alex Smith needs at least one more week to recover, and you couldn’t pick a better historically bad defense as the new guy’s first road start. It all makes more sense than some want to believe.

    If it works out, great. If not, worst case scenario is Smith returns with the same chip on his shoulder he’s had since Tim Rattay was selected as the starter over him eight seasons ago.

    Short week of prep. On the road. Starter is not yet cleared. This really was not a hard decision to make.

  27. jc1958cool says: Nov 22, 2012 7:48 AM

    who dat kaeper kid say he’ll beat those saints!
    he’s going to get the full monty in NO

  28. savannahrose44 says: Nov 22, 2012 8:20 AM

    As a Seahawk fan I’m glad to see a QB controversy in SF.

  29. doublebro says: Nov 22, 2012 8:28 AM

    Two qb’s means you don’t have one. Harbaugh has made a mess of this.

  30. nofaceangler718 says: Nov 22, 2012 8:58 AM

    In the Jets game when the Niners thumped us, Smith missed a wide open streaking wr on a fly route 3 different times. It was actually kind of representative of the prevailing attitude of the Jets. On 2 of the occasions CB Kyle WIlson was toasted but Smith over threw the ball. Kyle then talked crap to the WR and wagged his finger in his face like he had done something other than getting beat. Typical Smith in missing open WRs down field and typical Jets, not accomplishing anything and talking mad trash. If Kaepernick can throw an accurate ball he makes the Niners offense ten times better.

  31. omniusprime says: Nov 22, 2012 9:10 AM

    I say go with the QB that won the most games this season, and the last and the one before that and so on. If Smith is healthy enough to play to win then Smith should start. You don’t change the starting QB just because the backup looked good and won one game, that is just stupid. If Kaepernick is better than Smith then trade Smith away during the offseason. Go 49’ers!!!

  32. westclaims says: Nov 22, 2012 10:01 AM

    Some have suggested that Smith should go the Cards next season. As a Cards fan, that is an interesting thought. But, Cards need to fix o line problems. Otherwise, it won’t matter who’s behind center really. I want to see them take a left tackle high in the draft, and also get a right tackle. If the Cards fixed the o line and had just a serviceable qb, they would have a true chance to contend for the playoffs. What the D did to Atlanta was pretty amazing.

  33. dennisatunity says: Nov 22, 2012 10:43 AM

    Alex, don’t worry about Kap getting the first team snaps in practice. Harbaugh’s only evaluating him. He’s not really interested. Trust him–the job’s still open.

  34. CKL says: Nov 22, 2012 11:11 AM

    Yes TB worked out well. But there are two other situations I recall of QBs whose teams were actually winning (the Pats were not above .500 when BB had to start TB) and their HCs made a weird seemingly impulsive decision to start a very inexperienced QB over the one who QBed the wins. One, 2006, Shanahan’s Broncos were 7-5, he pulls the plug on Plummer, starts rookie Cutler…they miss the playoffs. Two, in 05, Lovie Smith, whose Bears squad was playoff bound, dumps Orton onto the bench so that he could start Rex Grossman who had missed most of his career to date being hurt. Bears lost in the playoffs to the Panthers.

    While I think that in all those cases, like this one, the young guy has more “upside” than the vet that doesn’t mean he is the better choice at that point in time. I loved CK coming out in the draft, and he played outstanding the other night. But I don’t sit a healthy Smith for him right now if I’m the HC.

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