SAN FRANCISCO -- Tight end Vernon Davis, one of Alex Smith's staunchest supporters, thrived Monday night behind the starting debut of quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
In the 49ers' 32-7 rout of the Chicago Bears, Davis caught six passes for 83 yards, including his first touchdown reception since a Week 3 loss at Minnesota. Davis had only nine catches for 101 yards over the 49ers' previous four games.
"Colin is the man," Davis said to open his postgame news conference. "He did a great job. I'm very proud of him. He stepped up today and did great things to help us win."
Davis declined to thrust himself into the debate as to who should start at quarterback going forward.
"That's up to the coaches," Davis said. "I can't choose sides. I'm here to support either one of them."
Davis' final catch, an 11-year reception in the fourth quarter, served as a strong endorsement of Kaepernick's skills.
"The ball he threw was one ball that Tom Brady throws," Davis said. "It was in the second window, right on the money. We've run that play many times and usually the tight end doesn't get the ball." Former 49ers quarterback Steve Young both praised and questioned the NFL's modern-day concussion protocol shortly before the 49ers and Bears took the field without their concussion-laden starting quarterbacks. Both the 49ers' Smith and the Bears' Jay Cutler did not suit up because of Nov. 11 concussions.
"Fifteen years ago, neither quarterback sits out," said Young, working field-side as an ESPN analyst. "It's different now, and for the better. They're probably on the cusp of feeling better and not quite there. ... Concussions are always hard (to diagnose). It's not a bad arm or bad knee."
Young's 49ers career ended in 1999 after he sustained a concussion on a sack against the Arizona Cardinals. As encouraged as Young is by the NFL's serious approach to concussions, he believes flaws exist in the post-concussion review, specifically the use of independent neurologists who are not familiar with the "football context" of players.
"Independent doctors don't want to take the risk. They have nothing to gain," Young said. —'Independent' sounds great but I don't think it's practical." Jason Campbell, who started in place of Cutler, expects the Bears to encounter the 49ers again in the playoffs. "Their team is one we will probably see again, so we need to really use this tape and be hard on ourselves and try to find a way," said Campbell, who was 14 of 22 for 107 yards with a 52.7 rating. Michael Crabtree has five touchdown catches in six appearances on "Monday Night Football." Before Monday night's meeting, the 49ers have outscored the Bears 239-42 in their past seven meetings at Candlestick Park, dating back to a 41-0 win by the 49ers in 1987. The Bears' last win in San Francisco was 26-10 in 1985. Tarell Brown's second-quarter interception was his first since last season's playoff opener against the New Orleans Saints. Bears left guard Chilo Rachal, who played the past four seasons with the 49ers, drew two holding penalties, as well as a fourth-quarter safety when he recovered a Campbell fumble in the end zone. Other inactives for the 49ers were running backs Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James, wide receiver A.J. Jenkins, safety Trenton Robinson, guard Joe Looney and nose tackle Ian Williams. A concussion also kept defensive end Shea McClellin from suiting up for the Bears, whose other inactives were wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher, cornerback D.J. Moore, guard Edwin Williams, defensive tackle Matt Toeaina and defensive end Cheta Ozougwu.
For more on the 49ers, see Cam Inman's Hot Read blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/49ers. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/CamInman.