Harbaugh: “I tend to go with the guy who’s got the hot hand.”

SAN FRANCISCO – Here is the complete transcript of Jim Harbaugh’s postgame press conference, courtesy of the 49ers.


At what point did you know that you weren’t going to have QB Alex Smith for this game?

“Monday morning, today.”


How had the reps been distributed throughout the week to get QB Colin Kaepernick ready?

“We were giving him more reps on Wednesday and Thursday. And then I believe it was Saturday, Sunday he got all the reps.”


Is Colin your starting quarterback going forward?

“We’ll see. I usually tend to go with the guy who’s got the hot hand. And we’ve got two quarterbacks that have got a hot hand. So, thought Colin did an outstanding job. Thought he did a great job. Poise in the pocket, pushing the ball and throwing with accuracy. Did a nice job running the game plan. Everything he did was exemplar, again. And really acquitted himself great. And very proud of him for that. And there are a lot of guys to highlight. A tremendous effort on our defense. Tremendous effort by our special teams. Thought [TE] Vernon Davis had a big night, [RB] Frank [Gore], [WR] Mario [Manningham], [WR] Michael [Crabtree]. A lot of guys that you could highlight. [LB] Aldon Smith, huge night.”


Did Vernon Davis have a big night because Colin was throwing to him? It seems to me that he threw, you’re laughing. That Vernon Davis got—

“I’m smiling.”


It’s nice to see you laugh. I really like that. That Vernon got the ball more tonight than I’m used to seeing him getting the ball?



Is that an answer?

“He got the ball more tonight than you’re used to yeah definitely he’s gotten the ball more tonight than he’s gotten in the last couple games. But, there’s been—.”


I’m wondering if that’s because Colin was the quarterback?

“I think Colin did a great job getting Vernon the ball. And Vernon did a great job getting open. I don’t think that those are mutually exclusive or inclusive, however the way to say that is. They both played great. And there’s nothing here that you can dig for to get more. I’m not covering up or anything, or hiding anything. Thought Colin played really well. Thought Vernon played really well. And a lot of guys played really well. Aldon Smith had a heck of a night. Our offensive line played very well. Pass protection was outstanding. And just really give a lot of accolades to the players tonight. They played great in a big game and it’s a big win for us.”


You said you tend to go with the hot hand. Is it possible to have a hotter hand than what Colin had tonight?

“Yeah like I said, well we really have two guys that have a pretty hot hand. But, we’ll make that decision as we go forward.”


Do you think the league is more attentive this year in health and safety issues than last year?

“I thought they were pretty attentive to it last year as well. I can’t say that there’s, maybe it’s more.”


As a coach does it play more in your mind than it might have for coaches in the past?

“I can only speak for myself and just really have always, since I’ve been a coach, just put that in the hands of the doctors. Sounds simple, but us coaches don’t have a medical degree. So, they make those determinations and it’s very simple. And that’s just the way it works.”


There’s an unwritten rule that a guy doesn’t lose his job because of an injury. Does that hold true? In other words, if Alex is completely healthy next Sunday will he start?

“We’ll make that determination as we go. But, there’s no rule.”


Had you decided before this morning that Colin was going to start?

“Yeah, made the decision Sunday that Colin would start the game. And then we found out Monday that Alex would be out. So, but that decision was made to start Colin on Sunday.”


So was the decision to start Colin a health issue of Alex? Or, was Colin going to be your starter?

“Again, not a big mystery here. Just felt that Alex still had some symptoms on Sunday and we were going to make the decision to go with Colin.”


What impressed you most tonight about Colin?

“I think several things. The accuracy, the poise in the pocket. Again, you saw the running ability. Playmaking ability. Understanding of the game plan and just executed really well. So, all those things impressed.”


How were his pre-snap reads? And how did he manage the game?

“He did good. He did really good. He was on top of it. I can’t think of … maybe one, maybe one thing. But, other than that, that’s pretty good. That’s operating in the high 90s. That’s A-plus operation.”


How much did him playing earlier in the year, getting those reps that he did, do you think contributed to his poise and comfort level tonight?

“I think that helped. Most definitely helped. I felt better about it, him starting the game tonight because of those reps and the way he’s played when he’s gotten in the game.”


Given his performance, is it realistic that the dynamic has changed though at the quarterback position since you’ve seen him now through this game?

“The dynamic?”


Is he outright competing for Alex on an even board, close to even basis right now?

“We’ll make that decision as we go forward, yeah. But, like we said earlier, I don’t know if you were in here, we’ve got two quarterbacks that have a hot hand. And we’ll make the decision when we have to make it.”


On the touchdown pass to Crabtree, it looked like he surveyed the whole end zone before coming back to Michael on the left side, was that his third read on the progression? What did you see on the play?

“Really saw great pass protection. That’s where it started. And then cool-headed decision by Colin. And then floated to his left and Michael got separation. Kind of mirrored what Kap was doing, broke off his route. And they both made a heck of a play.”


Why did the practice snaps start with Smith and then shift to Kaepernick? Was it something Smith started to show symptoms again later in the week and didn’t in the beginning of the week?

“Right, correct. He was having some symptoms later in the week and wanted to make sure that if he didn’t get cleared that Colin at least got half the reps or more for the week.”


Are those symptoms something concerning long-term issues right now? Or is this something where he can be cleared?

“Yeah, he just wasn’t cleared this week. So, again, doctor questions and it’s just really in their hands. But, yeah, wanted to get Kap sufficient reps. There’s really nothing else to add on that, full disclosure.”


A lot of people probably thought you might come out with a more conservative game plan offensively with Colin. Obviously, the first pass was a throw. You threw quite a bit. Was that part of it just to establish him early, get him throwing, and get him into a rhythm?

“Yeah, that was part of it. It felt like two play-action passes to open the game, or at least two out of the first three. We had planned to have two straight play action passes and then we threw a run in between the two of them. But, yeah thought maybe they wouldn’t expect that. Think we were going to run with the backup quarterback. That was part of the plan.”

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