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  • Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press

    Colin Kaepernick dissected one of the NFL's best defenses Monday. Will he continue to start, or will Alex Smith, in the midst of the best season of his career, return after he recovers from a concussion?

  • Colin Kaepernick: He's one of two 49ers QBs with a "hot hand," and coach Jim Harbaugh didn't address the situation Tuesday because of a follow-up after his heart procedure last week.

For now, it's Kaepersmith

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012 - 1:04 pm

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers' budding quarterback dilemma sat in limbo Tuesday after Jim Harbaugh's late-afternoon conference call with reporters was canceled.

Instead of hopping on the phone, Harbaugh went to Stanford Hospital for a follow-up evaluation stemming from Thursday's procedure for an irregular heartbeat.

A team spokesman said the cancellation was a scheduling error and not a health emergency. Harbaugh plans to hold a noon news conference today where he likely will be bombarded with questions about Alex Smith, in the midst of the best season of his career before a concussion kept him out of Monday's game, and his heretofore backup, Colin Kaepernick, who outfoxed one of the league's best defenses on national television.

After the 32-7 win over the Bears, Harbaugh left open the possibility of Kaepernick taking over for Smith, saying that the 49ers would go with the "hot hand."

"We've got two quarterbacks that have the hot hand," Harbaugh said. "And we'll make that decision when we have to."

For someone with a reputation as a scrambling quarterback, Kaepernick looked remarkably comfortable in the pocket Monday.

Kaepernick had been used as the wildcat, change-of-pace option in his brief, early season appearances. But he played a very traditional game Monday and perhaps fooled the Bears in the process.

Before the game, Chicago coach Lovie Smith said his team prepared for a 49ers ground attack that included Kaepernick, and the Bears were stacked along the line of scrimmage accordingly.

Kaepernick, however, ran only four times after taking off eight times for 66 yards a week earlier in a relief effort against the Rams.

Furthermore, the 49ers coaches called the read-option – where Kaepernick can hand off or keep the ball and run, in which he performed with great success during the exhibition season – only once, on Kendall Hunter's 14-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

Kaepernick passed on eight of the team's first 12 plays, and he found his targets in one-on-one matchups most of the time. He hit almost all of them as the 49ers scored on their first four possessions and took a 20-0 lead into halftime.

Asked if he was surprised the 49ers came out throwing, Bears cornerback Tim Jennings said, "Yes we were. You have to take your hat off to the quarterback. He came out and played tremendous. He was comfortable. We were kind of surprised, but you have to tip your hat to them. They played better than we did."

The 49ers have an abbreviated workweek to prepare for Sunday's game in New Orleans. Meanwhile, Smith's concussion symptoms reappeared over the weekend, and he still has not been cleared to play.

That situation seemingly makes Kaepernick the favorite to start against the Saints, at least as the workweek begins.

Safety signed – The 49ers signed safety Eddie Whitley (Virginia Tech) to the practice squad, Whitley replaced defensive tackle Matthew Masifilo, who signed with Tampa Bay last week.

The 49ers now have three rookie safeties on the roster: Whitley, sixth-round pick Trenton Robinson and Michael Thomas, who also is on the practice squad.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Matthew Barrows



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