Harbaugh: 'We've got two QBs with a hot hand'

Harbaugh had plenty reasons to smile Monday night

Coach Jim Harbaugh gives his takes on the game after the 49ers' 32-7 rout of the Chicago Bears on Monday night, along with his comments on the team's developing situation at quarterback. After the first start of his NFL career, Colin Kaepernick also gives his takes on the game and where things stand with him going forward at the quarterback position.

Jim Harbaugh


On when he knew he wouldn't have quarterback Alex Smith for this game: "Monday morning, today."

On how the practice reps were distributed this week between Smith and Colin Kaepernick: "We were giving (Kaepernick) more reps on Wednesday and Thursday. And then I believe it was Saturday, Sunday he got all the reps."

On whether Kaepernick is his 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."

On whether Vernon Davis had a big night because it was Kaepernick throwing to him: "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. 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.

On whether it's possible to have a hotter hand than Kaepernick had Monday night: "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."

On whether there's an unwritten rule that a player doesn't lose his starting job because of an injury, meaning Alex Smith would start next week if healthy: "We'll make that determination as we go. But, there's no rule."

On if he'd decided before Monday morning that Kaepernick 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. 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."

On what impressed him most Monday about Kaepernick: "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."

On Kaepernick's pre-snap reads and how he managed 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."

On how much playing Kaepernick in spots earlier in the season contributed to his poise and comfort level: "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."

On if Kaepernick is competing with Smith for the starting job on an even level: "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 what he saw on Kaepernick's touchdown pass to Vernon Davis: "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."

On whether it was part of the game plan to establish Kaepernick's throwing early to get him in 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."


Colin Kaepernick


On his performance in his first NFL start: "It just felt good to be back out on the football field playing. I mean, I thought we did a good job as an offense. We put points on the board as an offense, our defense did a great job out there holding them. We came out on top, so that was good."

On protecting the football against a Bears defense that leads the NFL in takeaways: "That was something we were very cautious of going through the week. We knew they had a lot of great players that try to strip the ball and try to make some plays on the ball. That was one of the things we emphasized going through the week. At the same time, we had to go out there and just play like we can."

On whether he considered this as a big opportunity to show what he can do: "Definitely, I wanted to come out and show what I'm capable of and show that I can be a starter. That's what I've been trying to prove since I've been in the league."

On how much getting repetitions in earlier games this year helped him Monday: "I think it helped a lot, just being out on the field, seeing the speed of the game, getting a feel for defenses. I think it helped a lot going into tonight."

On if he's the team's hot hand at quarterback right now: "I don't think one game can be called a hot hand."

On whether he was surprised that the offense was opened up in his first start: "That was the game plan we had through the whole week, so I don't think it was surprising for me. I think we had great matchups out there and great receivers making plays."

On getting in an early passing rhythm: "I mean, just being in a rhythm like that feels good, being able to trust your players to make plays. Our offensive line was doing an amazing job up front giving protection so I felt very comfortable out there with it. Like Coach said, our offense isn't really going to change, no matter who is in there. Our offense is our offense and we're going to run it. We had a lot of plays where we had different options. I felt very comfortable with them."

On his interplay during the game with Alex Smith: "He was telling me to trust what I was seeing. He thought I was seeing the field well, he was just giving me little reminders here and there. Just different plays, what we saw, what the defense was doing. What his take was on it."

On his touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree: "We had a straight progression read, got through the progression, started to scramble and Michael made a great play to run to the back pylon. And our offensive line did a great job protecting to give us time to let that play develop."


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