Harbaugh sticks to middle on quarterback

Alex Smith hasn’t been relieved of his starting quarterback job just yet.

At least that’s what 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh would lead you to believe during his press conference on Monday.

When asked, Harbaugh declined to name Smith or Colin Kaepernick as the starter, even after Kaepernick marched the 49ers into the Superdome to pick up a 31-21 win.

He’s right. There is nothing about Smith’s on-field performance that suggests he should lose the job. As far as we know, he missed Sunday’s game as a precaution due to his concussion. But he also hasn’t done anything to guarantee that the job is safely his. Kaepernick has stepped up when called upon and done something to snatch the job from Smith.

It’s time for Harbaugh to stand behind Kaepernick. Smith did an admirable job resurrecting his bleak career and getting the 49ers to this point. But Harbaugh has found someone that is more dynamic and can take the 49ers the rest of the way.

I get why Harbaugh is standing by Smith. He’s been a good guy in his seven seasons with the 49ers. He hasn’t done anything wrong —  except perform poorly for his first five seasons.

But everyone, including Smith, should have expected that something like this might happen when Harbaugh drafted Kaepernick.  Smith wasn’t his choice.

According to The Chronicle’s Eric Branch, Harbaugh ruled out Smith’s concussion as a reason for him not to play.

“I feel good about that now.”

That means it’s strictly a performance-based decision, one that Harbaugh is agonizing over.

In a perfect world, Smith would get his job back, but Kaepernick has performed so well over the last two weeks — against two good teams — that it’s hard to remove him.

During the press conference, Harbaugh was asked what factors he will use when he makes the decision on who will start. Will he consider practice, game-action or the upcoming match-up?

“I think it starts with this week, this game, what gives our team the best chance to win this game, like it would at any position.”

In what may just be a smoke screen, Harbaugh continually referred to Smith as his starting quarterback:

“So in a unique situation, you have two quarterbacks that are playing at a very high level. One’s your captain, your starting quarterback. The other has played great the last three football games.”

No, Harbs, you have one starting quarterback. His name is Colin Kaepernick. Make it official and stop all this drama. Alex had his chance. Unfortunately, he got hurt and somebody came in and did his job better.