While the 49ers have plenty to consider when they head to New Orleans on Sunday, the quarterback situation will be the big topic of conversation. We'll be breaking down plenty of other things the next couple days, but I thought I'd kick off Black Friday with a quick update on what we know about the Colin Kaepernick/Alex Smith quarterback situation.
The initial news Wednesday night was that Colin Kaepernick would get the start on Sunday, and it was not a health-related decision. Trent Dilfer followed up on ESPN with his own report that Alex Smith had told him Jim Harbaugh had simply said that Kaepernick would get the first team snaps, but that the door remained open for Smith to claim the job by Sunday.
Of course, Smith would first have to be cleared to play. On Wednesday, Smith wore the black no-contact jersey. Then on Thursday he wore the black no-contact jersey. After practice, Greg Roman spoke with the media (transcript) and indicated Alex had not been cleared and the team hoped it would happen on Friday. He was asked if he could "clear up what's going on with the quarterback situation right now", and in response he said no decision had been made:
We're confident in both quarterbacks to be on the field. We're always going to make way all the information as we have it and make the best decision for the team at the time. But we have ultimate confidence in either. When you look at the Saints defense, as multiple as they are, it's very important that we get the proper attention paid to their personnel, their schemes, everything throughout the week. Very multiple as we know, [Saints defensive coordinator] Steve Spagnuolo, who was most recently with theRams, has a very multiple system on defense. There's a lot of unique blitzes, different looks you see. It's not a cookie-cutter defense by any margin.
Roman was asked about the multiple reports, and his primary point was that no decision has been made. This of course runs counter to what Jim Trotter tweeted, but naturally he stood behind his report.
The latest report yesterday afternoon saw Ed Werder indicating a source had told him that Smith had in fact been fully medically cleared but that the team was proceeding with plans to start Colin Kaepernick on Sunday. This report came out AFTER Greg Roman had his press conference. It is entirely possible Alex was cleared and Roman wasn't quite aware yet. We don't really know anything for certain, and at this point, we may not know until sometime on Sunday. I think we'll have a better idea before game-time on Sunday, but who really knows.
At this point, I think Colin Kaepernick will be starting on Sunday. Is it a long-term decision beyond that? I don't really have much of an idea. After Monday's game, Coach Harbaugh did indicate he had two hot hands at this point. I suppose if Kaepernick stays hot, Coach Harbaugh would in fact be playing the hotter hand.
I really just don't know what to make of everything at this point. This is a bizarro QB issue because as Coach Harbaugh said on Wednesday, this is not like most two QB issues where you've got one guy playing his way out of a job, or one guy getting too old. This isn't quite Joe Montana vs. Steve Young, but I suppose you could look at this as a really poor man's version of it. Joe Montana had to deal with Steve Young fighting for his job throughout the late '80s. Injuries and other issues turned it into a circus, but fortunately the 49ers were able to play through it. Let's hope things work out with this little circus.