Whether Alex Smith can play this coming Monday night against the Chicago Bears is uncertain.
The 49ers’ starting quarterback will have to undergo tests and evaluations this week following the concussion he suffered Sunday in the 24-24 tie with the St. Louis Rams.
But what isn’t uncertain anymore is the ability of young quarterback Colin Kaepernick to step in and play effectively if needed.
Though Kaepernick, in his second year, had some rough spots, he also showed off his incredible running ability and a strong arm and some good decision-making as he helped the 49ers come back against the Rams, and led them into position for the tying field goal at the end of a regulation and what would have been a winning field goal in overtime (missed by David Akers).
Kaepernick completed 11-of-17 passes for 117 yards without an interception and ran eight times for 66 yards and a touchdown.
Coach Jim Harbaugh said he thought Kaepernick did a “very good job.”
“If I had to rate Colin, I’d give him a B-plus,” tight end Vernon Davis told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. “I think he went out there and he did a spectacular job, just taking over for Alex. He made plays, I mean, he was on it. He was cued in. He was focused. And he wanted to help this team win.”
Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis agreed. He saw a talented quarterback who brought an extra dimension to the game.
“I knew he was very athletic,” the Rams linebacker told Mark Purdy of the Bay Area News Group. “When you play against athletic quarterbacks, they have opportunities to scramble and improvise. It can get a little hairy at times. The kid did a good job.”
Still, Kaepernick started out rough, then got better. He had some ups after some early downs.
“Obviously, there’s a lot of room for improvement,” Kaepernick told reporters. “And a lot of things I would do differently.”
But as the 6-2-1 49ers begin work this week on preparing for the Bears, they now know that Kaepernick may be able to be effective if Smith can’t go. In his second season, Kaepernick got a passing grade in his first extended work, coming in as he did to play more than a half.
After Sunday’s game, the 49ers said they didn’t believe Smith’s condition was serious, and that he might be able to play against Chicago.
“He seems all right,” Kaepernick told Purdy of Smith. “Obviously a little shaken up. But he seems OK.”
Smith was playing well until he was pulled from the game after telling coaches his vision was blurred. He had completed 7-of-8 passes for 72 yards and a touchdown, but took some hard hits early in the game.
Kevin Lynch of the San Francisco Chronicle reports Smith will be tested by an independent neurologist and must be cleared by the doctor before he can resume practice.