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Colin Kaepernick to start Sunday vs. Saints, according to Jim Trotter

We break down the report from Jim Trotter that Colin Kaepernick will start in place of Alex Smith against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.


Fooch's Note: Site decorum is off

Well, the 49ers quarterback situation may be getting settled for Week 12, but may be further unsettled moving forward. Jim Trotter just tweeted out that a source has told him that Jim Harbaugh informed Alex Smith that Colin Kaepernick will get the start on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, and that it is not based on health.

This is very much still in the developing stages, so it remains to be seen how accurate this source is or what exactly "not based on health mean". If it is not health related, does this mean we are seeing a permanent switch at the quarterback position? Or maybe the 49ers are officially into not sure mode and are tentatively going with Kaepernick for now?

My thought prior to this was that Colin Kaepernick would get the start in part because Alex Smith would not get cleared to play in time to be fully prepared for the game. If health is not a part of the decision, then I would assume that is off the table.

Both quarterbacks spoke with the media earlier today and did not appear to give anything away. If this has all gone down, I'm curious what will be heard tomorrow at the 49ers facility. Greg Roman is scheduled to speak with the media at 1pm following Vic Fangio on the normal coordinator Thursday press conferences, so maybe we'll get some confirmation on this. I doubt he'll confirm it, but we'll see.

Whatever the case, things have not gotten any less interesting. Here are the earlier Alex/Kaep transcripts for people to pour through for any hints of what was apparently to come.

QB Alex Smith
Press Conference - November 21, 2012
San Francisco 49ers

Listen to Audio I Media Center

What has head coach Jim Harbaugh told you about being cleared for this week?

"Still in the process of being cleared to go back out and practice. I'm going to be out there in the jersey and just start the process again and continue it."

Do you expect to be cleared?

"I feel good, I feel really good. So yeah, I'm kind of expecting things to go well. Still those steps to kind of go through though."

But a week ago you said you felt good then too.

"Yeah I felt good, just didn't work out, didn't get cleared, but feeling better. Definitely feeling better."

Did you experience symptoms over the weekend?

"I tried to push it and went out and practiced and I just wasn't right. Doctors didn't end up clearing me."

Was it a headache?

"I'm not going to get into the symptoms that were going on, just tried to push it early in the week and still some lingering things."

Is the final hurdle the contact practice or getting the contact?

"Yeah, I know a big deal has been made of that. For me as a quarterback it's kind of, when you get out there yeah you have to have a little contact with the helmet on, and get banged around a little bit. But it's not a huge thing."

And it never came to that last week?

"No, never did that."

Jim Harbaugh just said going forward it could be a week-to-week decision. He could use two quarterbacks in a game. This isn't anything new for you but how do you kind of approach that?

"Anytime the next guy steps up and plays well, it's a good thing for the team, let's not get this wrong. If this were any other position, it's a great thing. Now, does it complicate things for me and [QB] Colin [Kaepernick]? I mean yeah, the quarterback position gets a lot of attention. A lot's going to get written and talked about and this guy or that. There's only ball, there's only one guy who can be under center. So, it's part of the deal. This is a good thing for this team. This is a good problem. And those are decisions for coach, that's his position. We just play football."

Do you feel like you're competing with him for the job right now?

"I feel like that I'm trying to get back healthy and go out there and prove that I can play. Part of that is just getting cleared. So, kind of where I'm at right now."

You're having the best season of your career, your completion percentage is high. All of that is high. Would you expect that when you're healthy, you should get the starting job back?

"I guess you don't expect anything. This is the nature of the game. Next guy steps up and plays well, that's part of the deal in this game. Competition is part of it as well. So, don't know what's going to happen."

Were you surprised that your coach left the door open after Monday's game and again today when talking to us?

"No, once again that's his call. Colin played great, stepped up and played really well on a big stage versus a good defense. Like I said, it comes with the territory."

You said it complicates things between you and Colin. What conversations have you had?

"Oh, just all of this stuff. He and I have talked quite a few times since then. In my opinion, if you can't be happy for your teammates' success, then you're playing the wrong sport. Go play tennis or golf or something. That's ridiculous, I think. It doesn't belong in team sports, in my opinion. Like I said, it's the quarterback position. It gets a lot of attention. We're going to get talked about. But, it's important that it doesn't come in here. "

Obviously they used a high draft pick to take him last year and they like him a lot. Did you, maybe in the back of your mind, know something like this might be coming?

"Well, he's a good player, yeah. I knew what he potentially was capable of for sure. He's shown it out here on the practice field. He's shown it in preseason. He's shown it when he's gotten his opportunities. So, yeah, that's always the case, high draft pick or not. Ultimately the decision came down to me and my health, and was I okay. Didn't feel like it was something to tough through and can't really tough out, something like that. And ultimately the doctors didn't clear me."

How important is it for the quarterback to know going into a game he's going to be the starter and just the dividing of practice reps in the course of the week?

"Of reps? Reps are obviously important through the week. I don't think you live and die by them by any means. But yeah, it's a part of the deal. We've always done a good job here splitting reps up throughout the week as far as starter and backup goes. It's part of it. We'll see how it goes this week."

Can you reflect on that game against the Saints in January and how much this one means to not only to you guys but for them, the magnitude of this game where they're sitting right now?

"Yeah, no question they're a hot team, been playing really well the last few weeks, on a roll. They get a little chance at revenge. Get us back in their place. I think everybody that watched that game remembers it, and certainly us that took part in it, I know that. It was a physical game, it was back and forth, some talking going on out there on the field. I'm sure it's in the back of their heads. I'm sure they remember it and the chance to get us on their turf."

The competitive nature alone, I'm sure they've had this thing circled for a long time on the calendar.

"Yeah, I knew when the schedule came out it was something I looked at, when we were playing them and down there at their place. So, I'm sure the same was for them."

The way 2010 ended, you were starting one week and QB Troy Smith then you, then... Do you look back on how you handled yourself during that stretch and that was maybe similar to what you might face here?

"Yeah, I've been in a few of these, you know, and they're all different. You know, I think that the great thing is obviously the character of this locker room. We've got great character in the quarterback room too. A chance to really kind of be different and set a great example for the team, us. Like I said, it's not easy, it can be complicated, but this is a good problem for the 49ers. It's a good problem for us as a team. It's not a bad thing. There's only one ball though, that's what makes it tough. So, we'll see how it goes.

What were you struck by with Colin in the game? Were there aspects of his performance that you thought were especially good?

"Well, I think just going out there and, for me, on a big stage, good defense that really has kind of really over-powered some offenses the weeks prior. Just going out there and attacking, I think, was the biggest thing for a young quarterback. Sometimes they get out there and get timid or not to be aggressive. And for him to get out there and really cut it loose was a good thing to see."

QB Colin Kaepernick
Press Conference - November 21, 2012
San Francisco 49ers

Listen to Audio I Media Center

Have you ever been involved in any sort of quarterback dual, I guess, is the right word? Controversy might be a little too strong.


QB Alex Smith said you guys have had some good chats about, ‘This is a good problem for the 49ers to have, two guys who are capable of winning games.' What have those talks been like?

"We've always been at each other's side. We've always supported each other. So, we're going to keep doing that."

What have you been told this week? Is it up in the air, who's going to get the start?

"They haven't told me anything yet."

When do you expect to know?

"I don't know. They'll let me know when they make a decision."

What about practice snaps? Until Alex is cleared, will you get most of the reps?

"I don't know. They haven't told me anything yet."

When you look back at the film of your performance, of the team's, the offense's performance Monday night, what did you see? What stood out to you?

"The biggest thing for me, there was a couple more throws I wish I would have hit, as far as the long one to [TE] Vernon [Davis], a couple sideline throws I wish I would have hit."

Do you feel like you've earned another start this weekend?

"That's really not up to me. That's up to coach."

Alex was saying that he wants to show good character and the quarterback room wants to show good character so the team can look up to you guys. Do you take the same attitude throughout this whole thing?

"Yeah, definitely. We both want to do whatever's best for the team, whatever's going to make us win."

Do you expect to start? How do you prepare this week?

"The same way I've been preparing the whole season."

What was your reaction when you were told on Sunday night that you would start? Did you tell anybody? How did you act?

"I told my parents, told my family. Other than that, just went about business as usual."

Do you feel a different dynamic with you and Alex in your relationship now?

"No. It's the same as it has been."

How do you keep it from not getting uncomfortable?

"We're just going to put the team first. That's what's the most important."

Do you think you proved Monday night, I'm talking about to yourself, that you can put a team on your back and lead it?

"I don't know about putting a team on my back. I mean, our offensive line played amazing. Our defense played great. Our receivers made plays. So, they made it easy on me to go out there."

I think your first ever NFL game came in the Superdome. What kind of memories do you have of that game?

"Bad memories. That was kind of an all-out fest when we played them last time. So, hopefully we go out and have a better performance this time around."

How much of just the physical act of playing quarterback, completing those passes, such as the one you threw to WR Kyle Williams is a result of having the mental game under lock-and-key too?

"I think that's the biggest part, is being mentally prepared so you know where you want to go with the football."

How did that part of the game go for you Monday night?

"I felt very comfortable with it."

What's been the last day-and-a-half since the game ended, all the messages and emails and things like that, what's it been like?

"A lot of messages, things like that. But, I've done the same thing I've done after every game, came in, worked out, watched film, taking care of my body."

Did your phone blow up?

"Yeah, it did.