Jim Harbaugh said Friday he sees a competitive advantage in keeping his starting quarterback for Sunday a secret, and even though one of his players let slip the information earlier in the day, the 49ers head coach remained mum on the topic.
"It's just not something we think is an advantage for us to talk about," Harbaugh said this afternoon. "And you may have your opinions on it. It's unorthodox. So be it. You can call me names if you want, or make sport of me. But, that's the way we're going to go about it."
Earlier in the day, safety Donte Whitner said on the Dan Patrick Show that the players were under the impression Colin Kaepernick would start against the Saints. That bolsters a series of reports throughout the week that pointed to Kaepernick making his second straight start. The 49ers list veteran Alex Smith as questionable on the injury report this week.
Harbaugh, however, said he did not tell Smith that the 49ers were tapping Kaepernick to be the starter, as was reported earlier this week.
"Not factual. Not factual. And I know there are probably a lot of reports out there. (49ers director of public relations) Bob (Lange) brought some of them to my attention," Harbaugh said. "Really I didn't see any that were factual that he showed me, including that one. And again, we could set our watch here for another 10, 15 minutes if you want and you could keep asking questions and the answers will still be the same."
Smith, who is recovering from a concussion suffered Nov. 11, passed his so-called "contact test" on Friday, and Harbaugh said that if he remains symptom-free today he will receive his final clearance. Smith's symptoms returned last weekend, but Harbaugh said he's been symptom-free since Tuesday. Smith has practiced this week, but Kaepernick has received most of the snaps
-- Matt Barrows