Around the NFC West: 49ers' QB situation

Retaining quarterback Alex Smith wasn't a realistic option for the San Francisco 49ers. The salary burden would have affected roster management. Smith's unhappiness as a backup could have affected team dynamics. Trading Smith allowed both sides to move forward. It felt like the right thing to do.

Around the NFC West: Aug. 19, 2013

The team is set with Colin Kaepernick as its projected long-term starter. All goals appear to remain in reach as long as Kaepernick is healthy and available. But without Smith, there is no clear backup quarterback in San Francisco. It's a big change for a team that has won playoff games with multiple quarterbacks over the past two seasons.

Colt McCoy was the presumed favorite for the job when San Francisco acquired him from Cleveland. Neither McCoy nor Scott Tolzien has made a positive impression through two exhibition games.

Rookie seventh-round choice B.J. Daniels outperformed them against Kansas City on Friday night, completing 6 of 9 passes for 72 yards and a touchdown in his preseason debut. Coach Jim Harbaugh subsequently made it clear Daniels had fought his way into the competition.

"Yes, going into what he did the other night, it was very positive," Harbaugh told reporters Sunday. "And as far as how the reps will go, this week in practice, I plan on it being even with Colt and Scott and B.J. ... When somebody does a good job, you give them a little more."

McCoy has completed 6 of 13 passes for 76 yards and two interceptions in two preseason appearances. The numbers for Tolzien are similarly unconvincing: 18-of-34 for 188 yards, one pick and three sacks.

Harbaugh limited Kaepernick to four snaps against the Chiefs. He said he shortened Kaepernick's night based on feel and was hoping to avoid "anything freakish" happening. The 49ers did juggle their offensive line in the first half, with Adam Snyder getting reps at left tackle. The Chiefs were playing their starters extensively.

The plan is for Kaepernick to play more extensively at home against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. The plan for the backups is evolving. McCoy, Tolzien and Daniels have two games to earn the No. 2 role. It's difficult to imagine the team keeping three quarterbacks on its 53-man roster, particularly based on the way each has played to this point.