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Jim Harbaugh, international man of mystery, mum on QB

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) talks with head coach Jim Harbaugh before taking on the New Orleans Saints during their NFL football game in New Orleans, Louisiana Reuters

At this point, the most vexing question about the 49ers isn’t which quarterback they’re playing this week, it’s who exactly do they think they’re kidding?

Even after incumbent starter Alex Smith was cleared after a concussion, the 49ers started Colin Kaepernick in yesterday’s win at New Orleans.

And it may well have been the right call.

The 49ers played it coy before and after the game, with coach Jim Harbaugh trying to again foil diabolical reporters with his cunning game of espionage.

“We’ll look at the game and make the best decision going forward,” Harbaugh said, via Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com.

Whatever you say, Jim.

This one seems fairly apparent, even if it’s not exactly fair.

As efficient as Smith has been at the helm of the 49ers the last season and a half (19-5-1 as the starter), Kaepernick has a wider array of skills, and can make some of the downfield throws that Smith simply cannot.

But they persist with the facade.

Kaepernick said he wasn’t told he’d start until a 10 p.m. meeting Saturday night.

Which is fine, except the reports that Kaepernick being told he’d start began Wednesday night with one from Sports Illustrated’s Jim Trotter, who has no interest in hiding the truth to create a competitive advantage for one team or another.

But Harbaugh said Sunday the only reason Smith didn’t start was because he didn’t want to rush Smith back into action after he was cleared late in the week.

“He eventually got cleared,” Harbaugh said. “The thought was to rotate him back into the action, but not all the way to the front line. Give him a chance to get cleared up.”

The 49ers’ intent to create mystery will be cleared up when one of them takes the field against the Rams next week. Until then, play along with Jim. Thinking he’s fooling anyone seems to make him happy.

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20 Responses to “Jim Harbaugh, international man of mystery, mum on QB”
  1. fuglyflorio says: Nov 26, 2012 9:04 AM

    It’s more gutless than mysterious. He doesn’t have the cujones to say Smith is benched.

  2. mgdsquiggy17 says: Nov 26, 2012 9:07 AM

    He surely isn’t fooling anyone but it’s pretty fun to watch you guys get your panties in a bunch because he won’t tell you exactly what you want to hear. So therefore you’re going to come up with numerous what if articles where you try and start/create any kind on controversy you can I’m sure.

  3. oaktown49er says: Nov 26, 2012 9:07 AM

    If you just look at the box score it’s hard to judge, but if you watch the game you can see what Kaep brings. He’s taken one sack in two games, he extends plays, he stays cool on 3rd and he can throw the deep ball. I hate to say it because Alex is a great teammate, but it appears Kaep should be starting.

  4. AlanSaysYo says: Nov 26, 2012 9:25 AM

    Don’t let Harbaugh forget that we all know he tried to sign Manning in the offseason.

  5. souldogdave says: Nov 26, 2012 9:38 AM

    Harbaugh chortles with glee at the press’ discomfort, this is totally from the Bill Walsh playbook LMAO

  6. realitypolice says: Nov 26, 2012 9:41 AM

    I blame the reporters who won’t stop asking the question.

    And don’t tell me “that’s their job”. The exact opposite is true. Their job is to get information. If there is a question that you know for a fact is not going to get answered, then you are wasting your time and not doing your job.

  7. tharoostah says: Nov 26, 2012 9:54 AM

    He told everyone that he is not telling anyone anything because there is no advantage in doing so. Then he played Kaepernick every snap of the game. What more do you need? Go ahead keep asking him so he can tell you nothing like he told you his was going to do. Anyone with eyes could see that Kaepernick was the starter and he played pretty well so anyone with eyes and a brain would then come to the obvious conclusion that he is still the starter. Unfortunately, for most members of the media that’s not enough.

  8. ninerhatersgetready4ring6 says: Nov 26, 2012 9:55 AM

    @oaktown49er

    That is a great assessment of what’s going on. I am an Alex Smith supporter but you have to understand this is a business. Alex Smith may be saying one thing and meaning another when he says ” If you can’t be happy for a teammate you in the wrong sport”. That teammate happens to play your position.
    Where are all the people that were saying last week that this was the wrong move and the Niners were overrated and would go 6-10 with this schedule. One slip up by the Atlanta Falcons and the Niners are a 1/2 game from the #1 seed with that ugly tie.
    To all you haters out there, this coaching staff know what they are doing. Let’s go back to last season with the defense. Ahmad Brooks, Ray McDonald and Navaro Bowman were never starters and look how that has worked out. Look at how they handled Aldon Smith transition to OLB . Okay still not convinced. Alex Boone transition to RG after playing OT all his life. Now this O-Line is rated by Madden himself as the best in football. The handling of the Kyle Williams situation after the NFC Championship Game also comes to mind. So the situation with Alex Smith was gonna come sooner than later it just so happened that injury gave Harbaugh the window to make it happen. I wouldn’t be surprised if Harbaugh is not voted for Coach of the Year but I think that honor should go to Gary Kubiak . We shall see…..

  9. cashcarewins says: Nov 26, 2012 10:19 AM

    I think Harbaugh would have been more comfortable if the Saints had gone ahead in the first half. You look at the schedule and the niners could only face one challenge the rest of the way, especially if the Seahawks 2 corners are suspended. That would be New England. For all CK has done, he has always played with a lead and never had serious pressure. Do you want his first tight game to be in the playoffs? Before the year is done, you will hear people saying ‘he runs too soon and doesn’t always see the open receiver’. If you look at the Saints game outside the adulation glasses, that was already evident even from the limited angles you see on TV. I believe the number of super bowl winning first year starters is one – Tom Brady. And no one considers him among the most athletic quarterbacks. That is the conundrum for a team that is clearly on a Super Bowl run. And I’m sure Harbaugh remembers the one time he was the QB of a team on a serious run.

  10. salmen76 says: Nov 26, 2012 10:42 AM

    I hate to say it but the Niners are a very good very physical football team. Probably the best team in the NFC. But if i was a niners fan i’d be very nervous about Harbaughs goofy antics. He flirted with manning in the off season, he moved up in the draft and selected koeprnick. Kapernick is a good QB but at this stage of his career Smith is the better QB. So down the stretch maybe in the playoffs harbough will pay the price for benching Smith. If Drew doesn’t give the niners 14 free points with his two pic 6s kapernick would have lost the game. Then what would Harbough have done. Bench Kapernick? Ha ha! What a joke Harbough has turned out to be! Geaux Saints!

  11. oaktown49er says: Nov 26, 2012 11:14 AM

    Still so much hate for Harbaugh. Honestly if you don’t pay attention to how he handles his players, how he picks his coaching staff, how he works well with the front office, how he has great game plans, how much he has improved the QB’s, how he has respect in the locker room and of course his win-lose record…….well if you ignore all that….he has really been just average.

  12. SOBEIT says: Nov 26, 2012 12:18 PM

    @Salmen76

    To say that the Niners would have lost if not for 2pick sixes like it was all Brees control and fault. Thank the Niner D for making those plays and creating the situation for them to capitalize on those plays. And Alex’s 13-3 record last year was in large part to….the Niner D. Remember all the columnists and media and opposing fans saying that Alex was successful last year because of the D and him not making mistakes and the running game…game manager label? Now all of a sudden game manager is better than…? Make up your minds people.

    Also the Niners special teams gave up a muffed punt (which seems to keep haunting this team) due to Ginn losing the ball without contact, inside their own 20. Give Brees that kind of field position and he will capitalize 99% of the time because he is that great.

    So 14 Saints points to Kaeps 17 on offense…Saints still lose even if Brees doesn’t cough up 2 picks which the Niners earned, they weren’t given.

    As for Harbaugh’s non-traditional antics…we love it and don’t care if opposing teams, media or whoever don’t like it…even Niner fans. He’s doing what he needs to do to win and without his players having bounties on players to try and injure the opposing team. Most people saw how Vilma continued twisted Williams ankle after both were on the ground. Old habits die hard I guess. At least the Niners hit your players straight up with clean hits. From Colston getting up ended and landing on his head to Lance Moore running his mouth and the Niner D answering with 3 defenders cleaning his clock a couple plays later. Let’s not forget the head stomping after the game was pretty much over.

    And for anyone complaining about the refs giving the Niners missed calls…that goes both ways. There were numerous calls against both teams that were terrible with the refs…but the Niners played through them and the Saints fans are left complaining and justifying a loss that is easy to explain…the Niners went to your house with all the noise and home field advantage and won. Go ask Brees for an explanation and he will tell you the same thing.

  13. SOBEIT says: Nov 26, 2012 12:27 PM

    @cashcarewins

    The Niner schedule looks tougher than you think. Rams gave us one of our toughest games that I did not expect…ie the tie in our record. So I am not looking past them especially at their house.

    Yes, the Patriots at their house is obviously a tough game, but Seahawks at their house is not an easy game…equally as tough as playing the Saints in the superdome…super loud fans…and division rival.

    Cardinals are a division rival and they always play us tough…too bad for the QB situation, but I will not look past them.

    Since we haven’t played Miami, I have no idea how that will look, but I will give the edge to the Niners only because it is at Candlestick. I wish it was an easier schedule but that is how teams lose…deciding the game before first snap. 5 games and 3-4 should be really tough games.

  14. blasterpastor says: Nov 26, 2012 12:35 PM

    SF may have been winning under Smith but it was like watching paint dry. All of a sudden, under Kap, I’m seeing some excitement from the players themselves. They’ve upped their game, the o-line jumps up & down and so does the defense each time they make a good tackle. It’s like watching a completely different team! Go with the hot hand & keep Kap in there!

  15. billb49 says: Nov 26, 2012 12:42 PM

    The anger Harbaugh engenders is always amusing. Harbaugh hate is becoming a sport. But really, how many of you Harbaugh haters would rather have this guy coaching your team? Be honest.

    He’s made Alex Smith into one of the top QB’s in the league. He saw something in Colin Kaepernick that very few people recognized and traded three picks to move up for him. He’s put together one of the best coaching staffs in the league. He schemes like a madman on gameday. He sticks up for his players. His players love him. He’s taken a Niner team that had been a failure for 10 years straight and made a heavy contender out of them. He sat with Bill Walsh and talked strategy and coaching for Walsh’s last year on the planet. Walsh was a big believer in Harbaugh.

    It’s way past time for even the biggest Harbaugh haters to give him his props. The coach is awesome.

  16. allday38 says: Nov 26, 2012 1:17 PM

    None of this matters. You know what does? The rest of the season! Kaepernick looked good Monday night and like an average NFL QB yesterday. He does keep plays alive with his feet, and has an ability to extend when things break down, thats his edge over Smith. Add that to the fact he can make the downfield throw, and well, we know who starts. But, he is also young. He was a Randy Moss non called PI yesterday away from throwing a pick 6 to tie the game. At some point he will do what young QB’s do and lose a game for SF. Just better hope its not in the playoffs. That defense is tough but, getting older. Next season is no guarantee, don’t waste the talent by evaluating now.

  17. roop26 says: Nov 26, 2012 2:54 PM

    whatever wins games…I trust harbaugh

  18. mi6agent says: Nov 26, 2012 3:54 PM

    Shaun Hill or Troy Smith could have also won those Bears and Saints game with that defense. How luxury to have the D picked the ball and returned for TD after its QB just got picked.

  19. robgilman says: Nov 26, 2012 7:16 PM

    Kap the Klap

  20. mostovnik says: Nov 27, 2012 12:16 PM

    Perhaps this is a revealing question:
    Regarding the Rams preparing to play the 49ers: If the belief is that Smith will start the game, what strengths does he have that the Rams would have to prepare for that Kaepernick does NOT have?
    Answer: None. From a skill set perspective Alex Smith does nothing better than Colin Kaepernick except perhaps play safer. How do you prepare for a QB who plays safer?
    There is little question that Kaepernick is still inexperienced and likely a long shot to win his way into the Super Bowl. While we’re at it, has a rookie (I know he’s not technically) EVER won a Super Bowl? I don’t think so.
    So this may all come down to deciding whether to go with a more experienced quarterback, but one with limited skills or a raw dude with great talent. A very difficult situation but one many teams would like to have.

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