We provide an update on Alex Smith's concussion and what the 49ers might expect heading into Week 11.
The 49ers have Monday and Tuesday off, but that doesn't mean we won't have an excess of updates surrounding the Alex Smith's concussion. Smith won't be around to provide an official update until at least Wednesday when players are available to the media. There is no word yet on Smith's availability, so we'll keep an eye on that.
Jim Harbaugh met with the media Monday to wrap up Sunday's tie with the Rams. Naturally, he was asked numerous questions about Smith's concussion. According to Coach Harbaugh, Smith had a good night's sleep and "[s]ymptoms were positive today (Monday) and he'll be visiting with the neurologist later this afternoon." If Smith was cleared by that neurologist, he would then have to pass a neurological exam after exertion.
Harbaugh was asked about when Alex started feeling his symptoms. He took a hit from Jo-Lonn Dunbar that many assumed was when the concussion occurred. According to Coach Harbaugh, the hit occurred on the quarterback sneak six plays later. Coach Harbaugh discussed the issue of symptoms:
"Yeah, he said that he had the blurred vision after he got up from the quarterback sneak, which was maybe two possessions after the hit that you're referring to, and that was a good sized hit. Our doctors were good. They were very proactive on that hit. They watched it on the monitors and Alex had no symptoms after that hit. He was cleared to play. And then it appears that it was the quarterback sneak where he comes up and has blurred vision and that's when we brought in [QB] Colin [Kaepernick], immediately. So, I think our doctors handled it very well. There's no telling, did that earlier hit contribute? I don't know. I don't think Alex knows for sure either."
I'm not sure about the "maybe two possessions after the hit" he is talking about as the sneak was the same possession as the hit from Dunbar. Unless he is talking about the second time Smith took a hit (he was sacked after the Dunbar hit but before the QB sneak).
According to Harbaugh, Smith indicated he had blurred vision over the course of the six plays following the sneak, but Smith thought it would go away.
"What he expressed was he came out from the sneak and he had blurred vision. He felt that it would go away and then came over to the sideline and sat down and felt like it was something that would go away, but it didn't. Then he told me he had blurred vision and that's when we made the move."
The 49ers get an extra day to get ready for Monday Night Football against the Chicago Bears. Smith will go through the concussion protocol and we'll start to get a better idea as the week wears on. Any predictions about Smith's chances for playing on Monday are guesses until we start getting the results of the neurological exams. Once Smith is cleared we can start to figure out exactly what this means for Monday.
As the team game-plans for Monday, one thing we can say with some certainty is the coaching staff is factoring in Colin Kaepernick as a potential starter at this point. It does not mean they are not game-planning with Smith in mind as well, but they are considering the potential that Kaepernick could be needed as the starter. Once the team hits the practice field later this week, we'll get some better ideas about who is getting first team snaps.