49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

November 21, 2012
Harbaugh expects Alex Smith to be cleared this week


Jim Harbaugh said this morning that Alex Smith still has not been cleared to play in a game following his Nov. 11 concussion but that he expects that to happen by the end of the week. "It looks like he will be (cleared) before the week is out," Harbaugh said on the Murph & Mac show on KNBR. "But not as of now. I'm sure he will be."

Smith experienced symptoms from the concussion late last week and never was given the "contact test," which is the final step a player recovering from a concussion must take before being cleared to play. Smith presumably has yet to take that step.

Preparing for the Bears last week, the 49ers began the work week thinking that Smith would start and gave him the most practice snaps. As the week went on, however, those practice snaps swung in Kaepernick's favor. Who gets the most early in the week? Harbaugh probably won't say, but you'd have to think that the fact Smith still is not cleared means Kaepernick gets the bulk of the work.

Meanwhile, get ready for the phrase, "opposite of a controversy." Harbaugh said that twice when host Brian Murphy asked him about the competition between Smith and heretofore backup Colin Kaepernick to start for the 49ers. "It's the opposite of a controversy," Harbaugh said. "We've got two good guys."

Harbaugh also said he was doing fine following his heart procedure last week. He had a follow-up appointment Tuesday. "Think we got that part of it licked," he said. "And beating the Bears Monday night helped that."

For the first time since 2002, two linebackers from the same team have won the NFC Defensive Player of the Week award in the same season. Patrick Willis did it earlier in the year. Aldon Smith got the honor this week for his 5 1/2-sack effort against Chicago.

Smith is now in first place in the season sack standings, is in position to have the most sacks ever after two seasons and is a contender for the defensive player of the year award for 2012.

Players with the most sacks in their first two seasons since 1982:

1. Reggie White,1985-1986, 31 
2. Derrick Thomas,1989-1990, 30 
3. Aldon Smith, 2011-2012, 29* 
4. Shawne Merriman, 2005-2006, 27 
5. Jevon Kearse, 1999-2000, 26 
6. Von Miller, 2011-2012, 24.5* 
7. Dwight Freeney, 2002-2003, 24 

- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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