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Jim Harbaugh: Alex Smith should be cleared this week

Don't call it a quarterback controversy in San Francisco. Just don't ask 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh for a clear answer about who he's going to start this week against the New Orleans Saints.

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"We don't have a controversy. A controversy is argument with two opposing points of view. We have two quarterbacks with hot hands," Harbaugh said on KNBR-AM on Wednesday morning.

It looks like he'll have two available quarterbacks for the game, as well. Harbaugh says he believes Alex Smith will be cleared for contact by the end of the week. A line of thinking developed that Harbaugh would use Smith's injury as a way to not really "choose" Colin Kaepernick over Smith. That won't be the case, but Harbaugh will keep his decision close to the vest.

"I will not announce the starting QB on the Murph and Mac Show today," Harbaugh said.

When a coach doesn't announce a starter, it usually means the talented upstart is going to pass the incumbent. Otherwise, why not just say you are sticking with your guy?

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Then again, the 49ers successfully made everyone believe Smith was going to start last week. The Bears weren't prepared for Kaepernick. Harbaugh's refusal to name a starter could just be a case of a coach looking for an edge.

No matter who Harbaugh chooses, Saints-49ers could be the most intriguing game of Week 12. We might be witnessing a changing of the guard at quarterback for one of the Super Bowl favorites.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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