The 49ers made official what was reported earlier in the day by Chris Mortensen. The 49ers will deactivate QB Alex Smith for Monday Night Football against the Chicago Bears. According to the 49ers, Smith was evaluated by team medical director Dr. Dan Garza and was not cleared to play. Colin Kaepernick will get the start in place of Smith and Scott Tolzien will be active as the backup quarterback. The emergency quarterback will likely be Kyle Williams, who filled that role last week when Smith first went down.
The reports out of practice had indicated Alex Smith was receiving most of the snaps all week long. These reports leave a couple of situations. The first is that the team really did expect Alex Smith to be cleared to play, and this has come out of nowhere, leaving them in a tough situation with a potentially somewhat unprepared Colin Kaepernick.
The other situation is that the team has been playing a game of misdirection. The media is allowed to observe practice during individual drills, but is not allowed to watch the team drills. It is possible the 49ers coaching staff has played it out as if Smith would play, but really was doing that to keep the Chicago Bears in the dark for their own preparations.
Bears head coach Lovie Smith had indicated they were more concerned with the run anyway, so the QB was not a huge deal for them. That makes a certain amount of sense. Although Kaepernick can potentially open up the offense a bit more, having his first career start come against the dominant Bears defense would seem more likely to force a more conservative game plan on the 49ers offense. It is hard to figure out exactly what will happen, but I would be a bit surprised if the 49ers did not come out looking to establish the run game in a very decisive manner. They could very well open things up, but that just does not strike me as the likely play, at least initially.
It certainly does make for an interesting matchup. The game was already plenty interesting with the playoff stakes, but getting the second year "QB of the future" into the game makes it that much more interesting for all involved. All I want is a win, but there is a certain buzz with the uncertainty of Kaep getting the start. It should make for quite the night (good or bad remaining to be seen!).