SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 1: Runningback Kendall Hunter #32 of the San Francisco 49ers runs against the San Diego Chargers during their preseason NFL Game on September 1, 2011 at Qualcomm Stadium in San DIego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
In some of the least shocking news ever, 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh officially announced Alex Smith is his starting quarterback for week one against the Seattle Seahawks. Harbaugh made the announcement after the 49ers 20-17 victory against the San Diego Chargers and I'd imagine few people are stunned by the announcement.
Whether you like Smith or not, Colin Kaepernick has not shown enough in the preseason to justify giving him a shot and Josh McCown was an obvious number two or three quarterback from the minute he was signed. We'll have more on Smith later with a breakdown of his performance against the Chargers. There is plenty for the offense to work on heading into the opener, but they're at least operating with some positive momentum.
Speaking of positive momentum, Kendall Hunter finds himself hitting on all cylinders after four solid performances this past month. He finished the preseason with 231 yards on 35 carries. Preseason performances against anything other than first team units can be minimized in some respects due to the level of competition. However, while Hunter's last two performances came with a lot of time against starting defensive units. He averaged just over five yards a carry against the Texans and Chargers first team defenses. That's not too shabby.
More important for Hunter is that he may have locked down the backup running back job behind Frank Gore. Anthony Dixon entered camp as the number two but following the 49ers victory last night, Coach Harbaugh said about Hunter, "He's definitely playing well enough to be the No. 2 back."
Coach likes to keep some things close to the vest so he still is playing a bit of possum with the decision. And it's possible the team will still use Dixon as the primary goal-line backup. However, for purposes of the depth chart, I think Hunter is in that number two spot for now.