|49ers coach Jim Harbaugh on Wednesday officially named Colin Kaepernick the team's starting QB. (US Presswire)|
It's official. Colin Kaepernick has supplanted Alex Smith as the San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback.
Coach Jim Harbaugh, as expected, confirmed what had long been assumed Wednesday.
"The rationale is that we have two quarterbacks that we feel great about as the starting quarterback," Harbaugh said. "Both have earned it, both deserve it, Alex over of a long period of time, Colin by virtue of the last few games. We believe Colin has the hot hand and we'll go with Colin."
When told of Harbaugh's comments, Kaepernick demmured.
"I don't know if it's a hot hand," he said. "Whatever you want to call it, I'm just happy I get to go back out there. ... It's a great chance to lead this team and show we're a great team and we can go into the playoffs."
The 49ers turned in a pair of impressive performances the last two weeks with Kaepernick in the starting role. First came a 32-7 shellacking of Chicago on Monday Night Football in which Kaepernick completed 16 of 23 passes for 243 yards and two TDs.
Kaepernick's play in his first career start drew high praise from Harbaugh the next day.
“It was A-plus, plus. He did a great job," Harbaugh said. "Decision-making, everything he did was in the high 90s, A-plus. In terms of how he executed and operated, same things we talked about after the game.”
Then came Sunday's 31-21 win in New Orleans against the Saints, who had won five of six games heading in. Kaepernick's play wasn't at the same level as it was against the Bears, but he still completed 16 of 25 passes for 231 yards with a TD and his first career INT. He added 27 yards rushing on six carries, including a 7-yard TD.
"Winning effort in a very, very tough environment," Harbaugh said. "And I thought he made some outstanding plays, as did so many guys on our team."
Kaepernick hasn't talked with Smith yet about the announcement, but noted that Smith has been very helpful and supportive.
"He's helped me a lot," Kaepernick said of Smith. "He helped me a lot last year going through our playbook and how we were going to read different plays, different progressions and things like that. He's been a great help to getting me to where I am right now."
Follow 49ers reporter Kyle Bonagura on Twitter @CBS49ers and @KyleBonagura.