Harbaugh says he’ll let the 49ers quarterback controversy play out

SANTA CLARA – Jim Harbaugh spoke in the media tent Wednesday afternoon. Here’s what he said about the 49ers quarterback controversy.

Q: Are you close to a decision on the quarterback right now?

HARBAUGH: We’ll let it play out. I wouldn’t expect an announcement today or any timeline on that. We’ll get that to you.

Q: So Alex has not yet been cleared to play?

HARBAUGH: I think it’s a matter of time before he is. He’s going to practice again today in the [black non-contact] jersey.

Q: Are they competing now? Is it sort of a practice-to-practice thing for these two guys?

HARBAUGH: No. I know that everybody took the opportunity after the big win the other night to talk nonstop about the quarterback situation, and very little about the great team victory that we had. The way we view it right now is we have two quarterbacks that we’re confident in, have won for us and we believe in. To me, it’s the opposite of a controversy. A controversy is an argument between opposing points of view. This is a decision that will be made from a team aspect, coming from the same direction.

Q: Every time you’ve been asked, you’ve said, “Alex Smith our guy.” On Monday you didn’t say that.

HARBAUGH: Alex, all these guys are our guys. All of them are significant players. There’s not going to be an announcement of the starting job. I think most of the people who really want to know don’t really care whether we win or lose, to be honest with you. I don’t know if it’s in our best interest to make a snap decision on that. We’ll get all the factors weighed out, we’ll talk about it and we’ll make the best decision for our team.

Q: Considering how things played out last week with Alex, what makes you confident that he’s going to be cleared at some point this week?

HARBAUGH: That’s a good question. On one hand I’ve said I’m not a doctor, on the other hand I’m pretty confident that he’s going to be cleared, and that’s talking to the doctors and talking to Alex. I can’t definitively play.

Q: Have Smith and Kaepernick been neck-and-neck on the practice field and in the class room all year?

HARBAUGH: They’ve both done outstanding. When you look at how they’ve played on the field, they’re ability to win – Alex has done that over a long stretch, a 25-game stretch. Kaep has done that over the last two games – played winning football and played at a very high level. Both have the hot hand so to speak. We feel great about it. This isn’t one of those situations where you have the aging starting quarterback and everybody’s clamoring for the young backup quarterback, or a struggling guy and you want the next guy, or the young is in their struggling and people are clamoring for the popular backup. We have two really good guys – that’s the way we feel about it.

Q: Could you go into every week having two quarterbacks?

HARBAUGH: I think it’s a unique situation. We have two really good guys. Two really good players. Two guys we really believe in. So could we? Yes, we could.

Q: Even within a game?

HARBAUGH: We could.

ME: Steve Young on ESPN said you could complicate locker room by not naming Alex Smith the unquestioned starter. How do you respond to that?

HARBAUGH: I believe that we in here, that’s for us to make those decisions. I think there’s a lot of… people are probably drooling over themselves because they have something to talk about. They can fill three or four hours of talk radio and people will call in and share their opinion. I think the people who really care whether we win or lose or not don’t need to demand that.

Q: Have you informed the quarterbacks what their roles will be?

HARBAUGH: We’ll play that out. I don’t talk about any kind of private conversations.

Q: Alex said you’ve always been straight up with him. Have you told him that this is a possibility? That he might not be guaranteed to be the starter?

HARBAUGH: I don’t remember that conversation. No we have not. We’re not going to go over the “Did you say this? Did you say this?” We could be here for
hours. My conversations with those guys will be my conversations with those guys. I think everybody understands the competitive nature and we’ll make the best decision for our team.

Q: Does Alex’s success against New Orleans factor into the decision?

HARBAUGH: All those things factor in. A lot of things factor in.

Q: Is it fair to say that if Alex is healthy, you don’t know who the quarterback will be for Sunday or that you’re not ready to name the starter for Sunday?

HARBAUGH: That won’t be announced.

Q: How much does Alex’s health factor in to it, or are you just looking at is as who is our best quarterback moving forward?

HARBAUGH: I think both those things factor in.

Q: Jim, you were a quarterback.

HARBAUGH: A long time ago.

Q: Well, you understand it’s the most important position on the team …you can the interest from us and the fans. I think these questions are justified.

HARBAUGH: And I’m answering them. Now, we’re a team here. We’re not going to allow to be divided by outside forces. We’ll make the decision on what’s best for us. I don’t know how many other ways I can put it.

Q: When you went over the film, was anything else you would like to point out about Kaepernick’s performance?

HARBAUGH: It was A++. He did a great job. Decision making, everything he did was in the high 90s.

Q: What kind of feedback did you get from some of the receivers on how Colin performed?

HARBAUGH: Everybody was excited about it.

Q: He learned he was starting Sunday night. What was his demeanor like at that point and before the game? Was he excited? Was he calm?

HARBAUGH: He had the same demeanor that he always has – very focused. He has an intense demeanor. A focused and a coolness. Focused and loose at the same time.

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