Around the NFC West: Decisions, decisions

Around the NFC West: Nov. 23, 2012

Good morning. We're heading toward the first Sunday since Week 6 featuring all four NFC West teams in action. That will be fun.

I'll be heading to New Orleans for the first of four San Francisco 49ers road games over the next five weeks. It's going to be a pivotal stretch for the 49ers and a compelling one given changing dynamics at quarterback.

After returning from New Orleans, I'll be off to Chicago to cover the Seattle Seahawks and Chicago Bears in Week 13.

We've been overdosing on 49ers coverage around here and that's going to continue while their quarterback situation plays out.

Coach Jim Harbaugh has yet to announce Colin Kaepernick or Alex Smith as the 49ers' starter. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman denied an ESPN report saying Smith has gained clearance to return from a concussion suffered in Week 10.

For the record, there is no "final test" to pass for a player to automatically return from a concussion. Team doctors and an independent doctor clear players based on a range of factors. Those factors do include cognitive testing, but it is possible for a player to pass that testing while still concussed. Doctors make judgment calls based on test results and all the other information they've gathered while monitoring players.

Back in a bit with my Week 12 predictions and, later, our "Final Word" item looking at NFC West games Sunday.