The 49ers' quarterback kerfuffle did little to alter their standing in the Associated Press Pro32 NFL Power Rankings.

After their 31-21 win at New Orleans, led by second-year QB Colin Kaepernick and not longtime starter Alex Smith, the 49ers remained second in the poll but received three-first place votes, two more than last week.

The Houston Texans retained the No. 1 spot in the survey, released Tuesday, receiving seven first-place votes from the panel of 12 media members.

The Atlanta Falcons remained third, and the New England Patriots moved up three spots to fourth and garnered the two other first-place votes.

The Denver Broncos dropped a spot to fifth, and the Green Bay Packers fell four places to ninth.

Here are the voters' comments on the 49ers after Week 12, as provided by the AP (voter affiliation and ranking in parentheses):

Chris Berman (ESPN, 1) -- 49ers have "hot hand" BOTH sides of the ball.

Clifton Brown (Sporting News, 2) -- Defense is dynamite, and Colin Kaepernick adds new dimension.

Cris Collinsworth (NBC Sports, 4) -- Comment unavailable

Rich Gannon (CBS Sports/SiriusXM NFL Radio, 5) -- May be awhile before we see Alex Smith again.

Bob Glauber (Newsday, 2) -- Another strong effort from Colin Kaepernick, and Jim Harbaugh may have no choice but to keep him in the starting lineup over Alex Smith. Not an easy call either way.


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Rick Gosselin (Dallas Morning News, 3) -- Aldon Smith is on a pace to set the NFL record for sacks with 24. He has 16½ through 11 games. Michael Strahan holds the record with 22½.

Clark Judge (CBSSports.com, 1) -- Jim Harbaugh hasn't made up his mind whom he's playing next -- Seattle or St. Louis.

Ira Kaufman (Tampa Tribune, 3) -- That change under center looks permanent -- for now.

Pat Kirwan (SiriusXM NFL Radio/CBSSports.com, 1) -- Harbaugh makes the move to a second-year quarterback with no road experience, and they just keep winning. Aldon Smith looks unblockable coming off the edge.

John Lynch (Fox Sports, 3) -- It looks like the job is Colin Kaepernick's to keep. Hard to argue as Kaepernick and the Niners went into New Orleans against a smoking hot Saints team and handled them with room to spare.

Alex Marvez (Foxsports.com, 3) -- Yes, Colin Kaepernick and the defense were outstanding in a 31-21 road win over New Orleans. But let's not forget about an offensive line that didn't allow a sack and paved the way for 144 yards rushing.

Dan Pompei (Chicago Tribune, 3) -- Colin Kaepernick could be the spark that ignites the 49ers in the home stretch.