San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh said he expects quarterback Alex Smith to be medically cleared to play today, but he declined to announce who will start at New Orleans on Sunday.
Harbaugh said it serves no purpose to his team and organization to let anybody know his plans about using quarterbacks Smith and Colin Kaepernick.
Harbaugh also refutes reports earlier this week that he already has told Smith and Kaepernick that Kaepernick will continue as the team’s starter after making his first NFL start during Monday’s rout of the Chicago Bears.
“We could set our watch here for another 15 minutes and you could keep asking questions and the answers will still be the same,” Harbaugh told reporters. “We feel like there’s no competitive advantage for us to release that information. We just do not get into what the role’s going to be, how we’re going to use them, and the specifics of that. It’s unorthodox. So be it. That’s the way we are going to go about it.”
Smith started 28 consecutive games for the 49ers before he suffered a concussion during the 24-24 tie with St. Louis on Nov. 11.
Smith practiced all of last week in a non-contact black jersey, but the team declared him out Monday for the Bears game. Kaepernick had an auspicious starting debut passing for 243 yards and two touchdowns with a quarterback rating of 133.1 to lead the 49ers to a 32-7 victory.
Smith practiced again in a black jersey Friday, as he has all week.
“Alex went through his final test today and will be cleared tomorrow, if tomorrow again there are no symptoms,” Harbaugh said. “He hasn’t had any symptoms since Tuesday, so that’s a real positive.”
THANKS … NOW WIN
Even while giving away free turkeys, the Chiefs cannot escape the wrath of their suffering fans.
Wide receiver Dexter McCluster, while delivering a free turkey and canned goods to a home on Thanksgiving, got a scolding from an elderly woman.
“She put me in my place,” McCluster said with a grin. “But she’s a sweet lady. She meant well.”
McCluster said he hadn’t even had time to put away the groceries before the woman, who lives alone, let him have it.
“She said, ‘I’m praying for you guys. Hopefully you guys can win a game soon,’ ” McCluster recalled. “I told her we’re working hard. She said, ‘Well, work harder.’ ”
Fan anger has been building all season against the Chiefs, who will be looking for their first home win Sunday when they play host to Denver.
Planes have flown over Arrowhead Stadium before games trailing banners that urge the firing of the coach, quarterback and general manager. Last week, thousands of fans wore black to the game to mourn the loss of the season and encourage owner Clark Hunt to clean house.
“She loves her Chiefs and she wants us to win,” McCluster said. “She told us she’d been praying for us. I told her I would relay her message to the whole team to work harder.”
The rule that negated using video replay to confirm a touchdown by Houston’s Justin Forsett, a former Seahawks back, against Detroit “may be too harsh” and will be re-examined immediately, NFL director of football operations Ray Anderson said. Anderson said a change could come this year though the NFL traditionally resists changing rules during a season. … The Chargers placed left tackle Jared Gaither (groin) on injured reserve, ending an unproductive season for a player expected to shore up a shaky offensive line.