Report: Harbaugh to start Colin Kaepernick over Alex Smith


Colin Kaepernick’s impressive performance against the Chicago Bears on Monday night appears to have earned him another opportunity in the starting role for the San Francisco 49ers.

According to Jim Trotter of, Harbaugh is making the switch to Kaepernick over incumbent starter Alex Smith.

Trotter said that Harbaugh has informed Smith that Kaepernick will get the start against the New Orleans Saints this Sunday, and that the decision was not because of Smith’s health.

Harbaugh had two strong options to choose from but decided to go with the younger Kaepernick.  In his first NFL start Monday night, Kaepernick went 16 of 23 for 243 yards and two touchdowns against one of the better defenses in the league. On the other hand, Smith had thrown just two incompletions in his last two games before suffering a concussion against the St. Louis Rams two weeks ago.

Harbaugh said he would go with the hot hand at quarterback. Apparently for the time being, that’s Kaepernick.

UPDATE 11:42 p.m. ET:  Smith reportedly has told ESPN’s Trent Dilfer that Kaepernick will get the first-team reps in practice, and that Smith could still start Sunday’s game.  Smith and Dilfer spent two years together as teammates in San Francisco.

UPDATE 12:27 a.m. ET: Trotter responded to the ESPN report late Wednesday night saying he’s standing by his report and included a quote from what he was told Harbaugh said to Smith. “I’m going with Kaepernick.  Alex, I’m sorry.”

40 responses to “Report: Harbaugh to start Colin Kaepernick over Alex Smith

  1. Don’t agree with this at all. This is why players hide concussions and here Alex was doing the right thing and taking care of himself and is benched for it. It’s not like he was playing bad

  2. As much as I’m not a 49’ers fan (nor a hater), I feel sorry for Smith. Seems to have really been dealt a losing hand since he’s been there, and I give him credit for his professionalism in the face of the adversity he has had put on him. Hope he can find himself somewhere he can thrive.

  3. Wow, I am really shocked by this. It just seems like the wrong time to switch to a QB new to being a starter, at least if you really have championship aspirations.

  4. I think he had to make this call. That is the most dynamic I’ve seen a 49ers offense since the Golden Age. Happy for Kaep, feel a little bad for Alex since he didn’t really do anything to lose his job. but it certainly appeared that Kaepernick has arrived.

  5. Disappointing. I feel for smith, gave it is all and got brushed aside after one good game. But yeah one good game is all you need and changing qbs at this point always works… Harbaugh will regret once he suffers from the plight of newton, after one good game he is the best thing ever, now after teams had tape on him and he struggles everyone wants to get rid of him.

  6. Good luck Kaepernick. I’m surprised he got the start now, I was always told that he needed at least two years to develop as a project QB.

  7. if I were smith I would have headache on sun. so he can’t be there to bail them out when the hall of fame guy starting in his place doesn’t get the job done or gets hurt.

  8. It was bound to happen…Alex is a good guy and a decent starter but he could never reach that next level you need to get to the top.

  9. That better D left 9 in the box and Vernon Davis in man coverage with a very vanilla attack. Yes there were beautiful throws and I hope there are more to come but I really wanna see how he handles some exotic looks

  10. Bad move. It doesn’t seem right to make such a big change for your team when you don’t have to. Ride with Smith until the end of the season and if you want to go with Kaepernick afterward, that’s fine.

    If things go bad this week and in the coming weeks with Kaepernick, all you’re going to hear is “Why did they change at such an important stretch of the season? What made them think Kaepernick could be the guy after one good game?”

    Unless Kaepernick wins, this will only become more drama and confusion for the team. Going with the “hot hand” with your quarterbacks doesn’t work.

  11. Hope this guy doesn’t become a bust cause if he has to change back to Smith it’s gonna be hard to keep his head in the game I know he’s more exciting to watch but they have a lot on the line to just trow away a winning season ….. This may be the decision that makes or breaks coach Harbaugh’s time with the team if this doesn’t work and Smith moves on the hunt of the franchise guy will slow this team down ….

  12. Yes it’s true, Smith went almost perfect in his last start ….. that’s not the issue. The problem is that he left guys WIDE OPEN downfield or in the end zone. I’m having trouble remembering the last time AS hit a guy in stride.

  13. Ballsy call by Harbaugh, IMO. Kaepernick is under the microscope now. It’s interesting that the guy went from #2 QB to future hall of famer after throwing 23 passes in a home game. He was very good in that game, but are we to believe there will not be growing pains with this fella?

  14. Every week I watch NFL Redzone and see other teams QBs making throws I wish mine could make. Then I watched Kaep thrash the Bears last night making those exact throws. Add in his running ability and he could be deadly. I dont like to see guys lose their job to injury, but this switch was inevitable either way.

  15. I love this. You’re 7-2 and have a lot of breathing room in terms of the playoffs. Right now, you see how good Kaep really is and give him a start or two and see how he plays. If he plays poorly and loses lets say the next two games, you’re still 7-4 and comfortably in the thick of the playoff race. I think Harbaugh is simply seeing what he really has right now in Kaepernick.

  16. The way people are talking here is that Smith = Montana?? Seems like Smith is a great kid but Kaepernick will make defensive players go sleepless. Harbaugh’s rolling the dice for a Superbowl.

  17. I think harbs made the right call. Alexs salary becomes guaranteed after April 1st and they need to see what they have in Kaeps before deciding on Alexs future with the team. I was more exciting watching kaepernicks 4 quarters than Iv ever been with smith in 7 years. He is willing and able to make the throws into tight coverage that Alex quivers over. Kaepernick was hand picked by harbaugh and has been the future all along, he just salvaged what he could out of Alex until Kaepernick was ready. Yes Alex is a very serviceable starter in this league but please admit he doesn’t have that flair that Colin brings.

  18. Smith sucks and his misleading passer rating numbers are nothing more than a biproduct of the team around him and the fact they rarely call anything other than short pass plays for Smith.

  19. Cam Newton’s first game basically broke every first game passing record. And now he sucks badly. If Kaepernick goes out this week and throws three picks, then what? Is he gonna switch every time one of them goes south? Sounds like Steve Spurrier when he would swtich QBs in game at Florida.

  20. The bears didnt expect kap to trow it deep, they basically played 8 9 in the box. When do teams ever let vernon get 1 on 1 coverage? Never!! They basically played the same way Pittsburgh played tebow, and Tebow destroyed them!!! Peoples dislike for Smith is just crazy. Harbaugh is a back stabbing me me me coach. Alex well get his job back after kap gets exposed for what he is, a gimmick qb. One game smh.. Niner fans member troy smith, matt cassel, kevin kolb?. Superbowl contenders dont change qbs wen you have a top 5 rated qb in the league, hes led you to the ship game and led you to a 6-2 record. Only idiots make and agree with this silly move.. If kaps plays the whole year, kiss the superbowl bye bye.

  21. Rather Alex was trowing short or long passes, the bottom line is they won games, 6-2!!!!This isnt the BCS you dont get style points a win is a win. Playing qb isnt just about havung a strong arm if that was the case Vick would be the best in the league then.

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