SANTA CLARA -- A day after decidedly winning his staring debut, Colin Kaepernick stated he wants to keep playing and wants no part of a 49ers quarterback controversy with incumbent starter Alex Smith.
"I don't want there to be a controversy," Kaepernick said in an ESPN Radio interview. "I just want to do whatever's best for this team, whatever is going to help us win games."
Kaepernick, last year's second-round draft pick out of Nevada, passed for 243 yards and two touchdowns in the 49ers' 32-7 win over the Chicago Bears on "Monday Night Football."
Smith failed to receive medical clearance from a Nov. 11 concussion, and if post-concussion symptoms persist, Kaepernick assuredly will start Sunday's visit to the New Orleans Saints. But if Smith is cleared to play and reclaims his starting job, don't expect Kaepernick to be flashing the smile he wore throughout Monday's breakout start.
"Obviously I'd be disappointed. I want to play," Kaepernick said. "But at the same time, that's their decision. If they think that's best for the team, that's what we're going to go with."
Coach Jim Harbaugh, in his post-game press conference, wouldn't commit to either quarterback for the 49ers' next game. He said he tends to ride the "hot hand" and insisted that both Smith and Kaepernick fit that "hot hand" criteria.
Kaepernick sounded unsure of that rationale when asked by ESPN Radio's Scott Van Pelt and Ryan Russillo.
"I really don't
Harbaugh was scheduled to adderss the media Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. in a conference call. No other media access was granted on what was the players' day off.
Steve Young, perhaps the foremost expert on quarterback controversies, worked Monday's game as an ESPN analyst and said Tuesday on "SportsCenter" that Smith should be the 49ers' unquestioned starter.
"It's got to be Alex Smith," Young said. "He's got the body of work. This is a team that can go to the Super Bowl. He's got a body of work over many years, but especially over the last year and a half, with a lot of trust from his teammates.
"I understand the excitement for Colin and it's well deserved after yesterday," Young continued. "I know that feeling. It happened to me. But when it comes down to crunch time, is this the time to play with that. Jim Harbaugh's got to make the challenge. But for my money, you've got to have Alex Smith be the quarterback.
"Colin Kaepernick, let him nip at the heels, give him a few more reps, make him eager, make a little more creative tension in the locker room and on the field. But you've got to declare Alex Smith the starter or else you're going to create all kinds of things you don't want that are going to take your team away from the Super Bowl."
ESPN's Trent Dilfer credited Harbaugh for creating any semblance of a quarterback controversy with that post-game, hot-hand comment.
Here is Dilfer's interpretation of it on ESPN Radio:
"Jim got stuck. Jim has proven in his year and half as head coach -- I'm a Bay Area guy so I watched a lot of his stuff at Stanford -- Jim has proven to be not very good in those settings. He's a very smart football guy, he's a tremendous person, I count him as a friend, but it's embarrassing sometimes watching him in a postgame press conference.
"I think he got stuck and just fumbled the ball," Dilfer continued. "He knows, he knows a starter in this league and as a backup in this league, he knows that when a head coach creates a quarterback controversy -- which is what he did last night, nobody to blame but himself -- how that trickles down into your town and becomes a distraction, now you have to deal with damage control, the push back he's going to get from Alex, who's going to go in there today and say, 'What the hell are you doing? What is going on here' -- and Jim has been Alex's No. 1 advocate for the last two years.
"I started doing the math after I read the postgame and I said, 'He just blew it. He just made a mistake.' He went up there, he didn't know what to say and 'hot hand' came into his brain, some cliché term and he said it, everyone in those seats said, ' No way, he just did that.'"