Jim Harbaugh has watched each of his two quarterbacks lead the 49ers to big wins in hostile, road environments — Alex Smith in the season opener at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field back in September among others, and Colin Kaepernick on Sunday at New Orleans’ Superdome.
Which one gets the ball on Sunday when the 49ers travel to St. Louis? Harbaugh is still mum on that, though he did say Monday he will probably announce his starting quarterback Wednesday so the players don’t have to face constant questions about what they know about the situation.
Kaepernick said he was told late Saturday in a team meeting ahead of Sunday’s start against the Saints.
Then on Monday, Harbaugh offered this for thought: Yes, he’s keeping everybody guessing again. Sort of.
“Alex Smith is our starting quarterback. He has not done anything to lose that job,” Harbaugh said. “In fact, he’s playing at a very high level. Also, Colin Kaepernick, you can’t categorize him as a backup quarterback because he’s started games and played very well in those games.”
Clearly, Harbaugh is growing tired of all the talk about his quarterback situation, even if much of the drama is of his own creation — and he refuses to categorize it as a “controversy” with two capable guys in the mix each week.
“The guys will be hammered,” Harbaugh said. “You go to Colin, you go to Alex, ‘Should you be the starter?’ He’s got no good answer for you. He says, ‘Yes, I should be the starter’ — we’re talking either one — and you look like you’re just building up yourself. If you say no, then they hammer you because you don’t think you should be the starter. Then the people, so-called subject matter experts, who talk about, ‘You should be making a fuss about it or a stink about it, you shouldn’t be that accommodating,’ it sends a completely wrong message, to me, for young athletes out there, or high school quarterbacks, where their coach is trying to tell them it’s about the team and all of us working together. So that one gets me upset. That’s not what our two guys are about.”
The NFC West-leading Niners (8-2-1) now own the second-best record in the NFC behind Atlanta as they head to face the Rams in a game that will mean plenty for both teams after their 24-24 tie Nov. 11.
In recent weeks, Harbaugh has vowed to go with the “hot hand” as his quarterback. Now, he has two guys who fit that mold, yet Kaepernick has won back-to-back games in his first two NFL starts — the first last Monday night against the Chicago Bears before Smith was medically cleared from his concussion.
Niners wide receiver and return man Kyle Williams said Monday he will miss the rest of the season with a torn ligament in his left knee sustained in Sunday’s win at New Orleans.
Williams posted on his Twitter account that he has a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the knee. Surgery would be the likely next step.
“Regret to inform y’all I will be out for the season with a torn ACL,” Williams tweeted.
Williams and running back Kendall Hunter, who’s status is unknown, both were hurt on the same play during the second half of Sunday’s 31-21 win over the Saints.
Both were helped off the field and were soon after taken by cart to the locker room. They were injured on a running play in which Hunter carried the ball for a 2-yard gain late in the third quarter.
With the injuries, Harbaugh is likely to call upon rookie receiver A.J. Jenkins and rookie running back LaMichael James this week against the Rams in St. Louis.