Quarterback uncertainty will not swirl around the San Francisco 49ers late into the week.
2012 49ers QB Production
"The biggest reason is so our players aren't all pressured to, 'Who is it?' [and] everyone hammering them for the information," Harbaugh told reporters Monday.
The decision will be more short-term than long-term, with an eye toward Week 13 opponent St. Louis, according to Harbaugh.
Kaepernick is coming off two consecutive impressive starts since Smith suffered a concussion against St. Louis in Week 10. Smith gained medical clearance Saturday. Harbaugh decided to go with Kaepernick against New Orleans on Sunday. After the game, a 31-21 victory for the 49ers, Harbaugh said he wasn't willing to risk further injury to Smith only five days after Smith experienced concussion-related symptoms.
"Alex Smith is our starting quarterback," Harbaugh said Monday. "He has not done anything to lose that job. In fact, he's playing at a very high level. Also, Colin Kaepernick, you can't categorize him as a backup quarterback because he's started games, and played very well in those games.
"So, in a unique situation, you have two quarterbacks that are playing at a very high level. One's your captain. One's your starting quarterback. The other has played great football the last three football games. Both have a hot hand."
Kaepernick has produced six pass plays of at least 30 yards. So has Smith. Kaepernick has done it on 74 attempts. Smith needed 217. Kaepernick also has four rushing touchdowns. Smith has zero. Big-play ability favors keeping Kaepernick in the lineup. Smith has also played well and won.
Ideally, Harbaugh would keep developing Kaepernick without diminishing what Smith can offer the team. However, Smith's return to health changes the situation this week. Harbaugh can no longer cite Smith's concussion as a reason to start Kaepernick.
"Not to delve back into my own personal history," Harbaugh said, "but who's going to start at quarterback this week, my experience has been, both guys were struggling. Myself and somebody else were struggling at the time and it’s like who's struggling less, we'll start them this week. This is a unique situation to my own experience because both have played extremely well."