No decision has been made.
That was the refrain at 49ers headquarters Thursday from coaches and players alike as far as who starts Sunday's game in New Orleans, Alex Smith or his heretofore backup, Colin Kaepernick. "You know, we're hopeful that Alex gets cleared tomorrow, physically," offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. "We have ultimate confidence in either."
On Wednesday, one national report said that Kaepernick has been named the starter against the Saints while another said that Kaepernick is getting most of the first-team repetitions this week. Roman said the practice repetitions have been divided like they were last week - with the possibility that either Smith or Kaepernick could start.
"Colin's been getting pretty similar to what he got last week," Roman said. "I mean, he's getting some of the reps and Alex is getting some of the reps, and that's how it's divvied up. It's more play-by-play than 'first-team reps, second-team reps.' I really don't know what that means."
Tight end Vernon Davis said Jim Harbaugh gathered input this week from him and the other players this week as far as their thoughts on the quarterback situation. "At the end of the day, it's not our decision," Davis said. "We can have our input, but it's coach's final decision."
Davis corroborated Roman by saying both quarterbacks have been getting practice repetitions and that he expects a decision on Friday. "They both have been taking reps," Davis said. "So I really don't know. One way to find out is tomorrow. I think tomorrow. Colin - he's a leader. He's just like Alex. He's been under Alex's wing for the longest (time). So he's had a chance to learn and figure out this game. I'm very confident in both of them."
Smith went through his sixth straight practice in a black jersey and has not yet been cleared to play in a game. The 49ers hope that final clearance occurs tomorrow, which is when the 49ers leave for New Orleans. Is there enough time for Smith to get ready as the starter even if he is cleared, Roman was asked?
"That's something that we've got to evaluate and make a decision on," he said.
Roman also was asked whether he'd been contacted about the head-coach opening at Cal. Said Roman: "I am so focused on what I'm doing right now. Any thought or anything that would distract me from the task at hand for the 49ers for me would not be appropriate. So I don't know, to answer your question. I'm focused on one thing, and that's continuing to get better..."Â
Asked whether he had any job interviews during the bye, Roman said he spent it "self scouting."
The 49ers' practice participation report is the same as it was yesterday:
Limited: CB Tarell Brown (knee), CB Chris Culliver (shoulder), S Dashon Goldson (ribs, calf), QB Alex Smith (concussion)
Full Participation: LB Tavares Gooden (shin), RB Frank Gore (wrist, ribs), WR Randy Moss (finger), LB Aldon Smith (shoulder), S C.J. Spillman (finger), DT Will Tukuafu (wrist, wrist), LB Patrick Willis (shoulder)
-- Matt Barrows