Jim Harbaugh discusses Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore, Justin Smith Thursday playing time

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh provided some insight into playing time for QB Colin Kaepernick, DT Justin Smith and RB Frank Gore for Thursday's preseason opener against the Denver Broncos.

49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh met with the media on Wednesday, and he informed the assembled writers that quarterback Colin Kaepernick would play a series or two of play, and would not go longer than the first quarter. He also said that Frank Gore "possibly" won't play, and it "sounds like" Justin Smith won't play.

This is not a surprising development, but it is useful to hear that Kap will in fact play. The Cowboys sat Tony Romo this past weekend at the Hall of Fame game, but I imagine the 49ers would have to basically tie down Kap to keep him off the field on Thursday.

The big question will be how the team splits up snaps after Kap leaves. Harbaugh said that Colt McCoy was not locked in as the No. 2 quarterback, and there is an even battle between McCoy and Scott Tolzien. B.J. Daniels is getting QB work as well, and Coach Harbaugh acknowledged he was in the mix with McCoy and Tolzien. However, given that he's spending a lot of time bouncing between running back, wide receiver and punt returner, it will be interesting to see how his QB development continues. It sounds like Daniels is getting less WR time now that everybody is getting healthy, but even still, Daniels is moving all over the place.

If Gore does indeed sit, it would not be surprising. The 49ers know what Gore can do, so there is no need to risk anything this early in the preseason. With Kendall Hunter on the PUP list, LaMichael James would get the start. This also means Anthony Dixon, Jewel Hampton and D.J. Harper could all get extensive playing time. I imagine B.J. Daniels could also get some late playing time if there are enough snaps.

Yesterday, Vic Fangio stated that Demarcus Dobbs would likely get the start on Thursday in place of Justin Smith. The 49ers all-world defensive lineman is dealing with a finger issue, and again, knowing that he will be fine at the start of the season, there is no need to risk aggravating it the first week of the preseason.

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