Why it's clear 49ers are banking on Alex Smith

November 18, 2012, 6:56 pm
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Coach Jim Harbaugh is not expected to make any kind of announcement on his starting quarterback until 90 minutes before kickoff when teams must declare their inactive players.

The Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles earlier in the week officially ruled their quarterbacks out with concussions. The 49ers made no such announcement because they have been planning on him playing since early in the week.
Quarterback Alex Smith is expected to start Monday night against the Chicago Bears because it's clear that the 49ers expect Alex Smith to start Monday night against the Bears.NEWS: Smith questionable, unofficially expected to start
If second-year player Colin Kaepernick were going to start, the 49ers' coaching staff would've given him all of the first-team snaps in practice in order to be properly prepared to face one of the top defenses in the NFL.If the 49ers started an under-prepared Kaepernick against the Bears, it would be a form of coaching malpractice.Instead, the 49ers approached practices about the same as they do on a normal week -- a week in which Smith is not returning to action after sustaining a concussion.When asked if Smith went through the same workload at practice as usual, 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman answered, "Thereabouts."And how did Smith look at practice?"He's looked good," Roman said. "He's looked really sharp."Also, as reported Saturday, any time the past two seasons in which a 49ers player has returned from a concussion has been medically cleared to take part in even one day of limited practice, that player has played in the next game.In Smith's case, he took part in practices Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.But all might not be the same at the 49ers' quarterback position. Scott Tolzien, the 49ers' No. 3 quarterback, has been active for just one game in his two-year career. Last week, receiver Kyle Williams was on deck as the emergency No. 3 quarterback with Smith out of action and Kaepernick taking over against the St. Louis Rams.Will Tolzien be active Monday night?"That's a good question," Roman said. "An hour and a half before the game we'll make that decision, but that's possible."Tolzien said he has been given no indication whether he will be active for the game. In fact, he said he is informed the same way every week. Just prior to the official announcement, Tolzien is delivered the news on whether he'll be in uniform on the sideline.
Regardless, Tolzien said this week was normal for him. He had the same amount of reps with the scout team and none with the first-team offense.

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