Harbaugh going with Kaepernick Sunday

November 28, 2012, 7:59 pm
Share This Post

SANTA CLARA -- Colin Kaepernick has officially replaced Alex Smith as the 49ers' starting quarterback.Coach Jim Harbaugh announced his decision to go with the second-year player on Wednesday, the day the 49ers begin on-field preparations to face the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.The 49ers made an investment in Kaepernick, the first quarterback that was added to the roster after Harbaugh took over as head coach.The 49ers acquired the Nevada product when they moved up nine spots in the second round of the 2011 draft to select him with the No. 36 overall pick. The 49ers traded their second-, fourth-, and fifth-round selections to the Denver Broncos to get in position to draft Kaepernick.The announcement ends more than a week of speculation about the identity of the 49ers' starting quarterback.RELATED: Harbaugh's QB decision all about playoffs
There was no controversy just three weeks ago when the Rams came to Candlestick Park. After Smith's previous start, he was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his 18-of-19 passing performance against the Arizona Cardinals.Smith, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft, was the third-ranked passer in the NFL this season with a career-best 104.0 rating, and the 49ers were 19-5-1 in the regular season since the beginning of the 2011 season.But Smith sustained a concussion in the second quarter against the Rams on Nov. 11, opening the door for Kaepernick, who performed reasonably well in the 24-24 tie against St. Louis.When Smith's concussion symptoms did not clear in time for the 49ers' next game, Kaepernick stepped in and put together a strong performance in the 49ers' 32-7 victory over the Chicago Bears.And a quarterback debate was launched.Harbaugh managed to add plenty of fuel to the controversy when he declined to name a starter last week, citing his belief it would help the 49ers gain a "competitive advantage."Kaepernick got his second start on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. Afterward, Harbaugh said Kaepernick started only because Smith was not cleared officially to play until after the 49ers arrived in New Orleans on Saturday. Kaepernick ran for one touchdown and threw for another in the 49ers' 31-21 victory.On Monday, Harbaugh did nothing to clear things up."Alex Smith is our starting quarterback," Harbaugh said. "He has not done anything to lose that job. In fact, he's playing at a very high level. Also, Colin Kaepernick, you can't categorize him as a backup quarterback because he's started games, and played very well in those games."In the offseason, the 49ers signed Smith to a three-year, 24 million contract. He is the 20th-highest-paid quarterback in the NFL. If he remains on the 49ers' roster after April 2013, his entire 7.5 base salary becomes guaranteed. If the 49ers cut Smith, the club would take only a 1 million cap hit in 2013.QB COMPARISON
Colin Kaepernick
Age: 25
Experience: Second season
2012 record as starter: 2-0
Attempts: 74
Completions: 48
Percentage: 64.9
Yards: 680
Yards per attempt: 9.2
Touchdowns: 3
Interceptions: 1
Passer rating: 102.3
Sacked: 6 times46 yards
Rushing: 31 for 214 (6.9 average), 4 TDsAlex Smith
Age: 28
Experience: Eighth season
2012 record as starter: 6-2-1
Attempts: 217
Completions: 152
Percentage: 70.0
Yards: 1731
Yards per attempt: 8.0
Touchdowns: 13
Interceptions: 5
Passer rating: 104.0
Sacked: 24 times137 yards
Rushing: 29 for 134 (4.6 average), 0 TDs