Jim Harbaugh is going with the hot hand over the steady hand.
Harbaugh today said that Colin Kaepernick would make his third straight start - against the Rams in St. Louis on Sunday. Asked if that meant that Kaepernick was the starter for the rest of the season, Harbaugh said, "No, I wouldn't assume anything. I know you probably will, but I'd assume nothing."
Asked if the 49ers should expect some bumps in the road with Kaepernick, who made his first start two weeks, ago, Harbaugh said the coaching staff tries to prepare for every scenario. "As a coach, as a team, we don't fear any momentum or any circumstance or any man."
"Colin, we believe, has the hot hand," Harbaugh said. "We're going with Colin."
Harbaugh informed the team of his decision following the morning walk-through. Kaepernick spoke with reporters afterward but the man he has displaced as the starting quarterback, Alex Smith, was not available. "Alex is a class act all the way," Harbaugh said. "He'll prepare as if he's the starter."
Harbaugh has heaped praise on Smith for the last year and a half, going so far as to call him "elite" and worthy of the Pro Bowl last season. "All these decisions are difficult," he said today, "and you think through them as best you can."
The players mostly parroted Harbaugh in saying that the team is in an excellent situation, one in which they have two quarterbacks who can deliver wins. Smith had guided the 49ers to a 6-2 record - and to within the precipice of the Super Bowl last year - until suffering a concussion Nov. 11.
Said Michael Crabtree: "We have relationships with both of the quarterbacks. We're going to make plays whoever the starter is."
Frank Gore, meanwhile, vowed that the decision would not disrupt the positive chemistry in the locker room. "We're cool," he said. "If it's Alex, we're going to be behind Alex. If it's Kap, we're going to be behind Kap."
Gore, who entered the league in 2005 with Smith, acknowledged that the decision was tough for the former No. 1 draft pick. "But coach (Harbaugh) makes a decision, and that's what we have to go with."
- Matt Barrows