San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh left the door open for a quarterback controversy Monday night following the Niners' emphatic win over the Chicago Bears when asked about the often-ignored rule that a player doesn't lose his job to an injury.
"We'll make that determination as we go," Harbaugh said, according to Yahoo Sports reporter Michael Silver. "But, there's no rule."
Colin Kaepernick put the 49ers' quarterback position in question after his performance against the Bears. The second-year pro threw for 234 yards and two touchdowns with a 133.1 passer rating. All of this against a Bears defense that is no worse than the second-best in the NFL.
Kaepernick didn't look like a first-time starter and didn't rely on the athleticism that allowed him to rush for three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in college. The 49ers scored 20 points in the first 23 minutes and Kaepernick was 7-of-8 passing during the first two drives. The offense surpassed the 30-point plateau just once this season with Alex Smith, who was out with a concussion, under center.
Harbaugh didn't quell the conversation by saying they will go with the hot-hand. Several players raved about Kaepernick postgame.
"It's no secret, bro -- that dude can play ball," Michael Crabtree said. "It was too much for them. Colin's a baller.
"That's one dude I know I don't have to worry about."
Smith's concussion symptoms worsened as the week wore on and he couldn't pass a final contact test. Doctors made the decision, but Smith seemed better Monday night.
"I feel better," Smith told the San Francisco Chronicle after the game. "I'm kind of in the middle of it."
Kaepernick can physically make plays that Smith cannot and adds a read-option element to the offense with his speed. No one expected such a polished all-around game from him, however, especially against the Bears. Harbaugh has been Smith's strongest supporter since taking over the program, but he sounded open to a change.
A quarterback controversy with a 7-2-1 team coming off a trip to the NFC Championship. Marlo Stanfield would say, "Sounds like one of them good problems."
Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.