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Colin Kaepernick to start for 49ers, per Donte Whitner

We first heard reports Wednesday night that the San Francisco 49ers would start Colin Kaepernick at quarterback this week against the New Orleans Saints. It took a few days of the 49ers trying to cover up the decision, but the news finally is confirmed.

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Niners safety Donte Whitner said Friday on the "Dan Patrick Show" that Kaepernick would get the nod. It's hardly a surprising decision at this point. Alex Smith hasn't been taking first-team reps in practice this week, and he hasn't been officially cleared for contact, although that is expected to come before game time.

Smith should back up Kaepernick on Sunday at the Superdome. The larger question is if Smith will have a chance to start again this season.

We believe the bold move to Kaepernick was the right one. He has a higher ceiling than Smith, and the 49ers should see if Kaepernick can handle the role. The team always could go back to Smith in time for the playoffs. Smith has handled tough situations before, but this one is rough.

Smith is getting the hook just at the point when he's playing his best football. Smith is being passed by a quarterback who simply has more tools (speed, arm strength) in his arsenal.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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