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Kaepernick has chance to make case as the 'hot hand'

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Kaepernick has chance to make case as the 'hot hand'

Programming note: After the final gun at tonight's Bears-49ers game at Candlestick Park, change the channel to 49ers Postgame Live for analysis and interviews, only on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area!

So this is why the 49ers traded up in the second round to select ultra-intriguing quarterback Colin Kaepernick.His time has come as the team's starting quarterback.And it has come for Kaepernick without a full week of first-team practice repetitions to prepare for a game against the No. 5 defense in the league.And it's a game that could ultimately determine whether the 49ers get a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs. The 49ers are 6-2-1, while the Chicago Bears are 7-2.The 49ers have not announced Alex Smith is out of Monday night's game against the Bears, but one source confirmed the ESPN report that Alex Smith did not receive final clearance to return to action after sustaining a concussion Nov. 11 against the St. Louis Rams.RELATED: Report -- Alex Smith not cleared to play vs. Bears
Smith returned to practice Wednesday and handled about the same number of practice snaps that he would on a normal week, according to 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman and others.This game could have huge implications on the future of the franchise. Coach Jim Harbaugh believes in sticking with the "hot hand." And for most of this season, that hand has belonged to Smith.With Smith starting and finishing games, the 49ers are 20-6 since the beginning of last season, including a 1-1 record in the playoffs.Smith, 28, is having his best NFL season with a passer rating of 104.1, which ranks third behind Aaron Rodgers (107.3) and Peyton Manning (106.2).RELATED: Alex Smith career stats 2012 game logs Splits
Surprisingly, Smith is also third in the NFL in average per pass attempt at 7.97 yards. That also ranks third in the NFL behind Manning (8.0) and Cam Newton (7.98). Smith has improved nearly a full yard per attempt from a year ago.But where Smith ranks at the bottom of the league is yards passing. His 1,731 yards is No. 29 in the NFL, and 217 pass attempts is 31st among all quarterbacks.Kaepernick, 25, has made no secret of his mindset that he wants to be the starter. On Monday, he will apparently get his chance to prove he is a better option for the 49ers than Smith.RELATED: Colin Kaepernick career stats 2012 game logs
Kaepernick saw his most extensive NFL playing time last week against the St. Louis Rams. He entered in the second quarter with the 49ers trailing 14-7. Kaepernick overcame a slow start to complete 11 of 17 passes for 117 yards. He rushed for 66 yards on eight carries -- five of which came on scrambles."There were just a couple reads I wish I could have back, opportunities for big plays," Kaepernick said.Said Roman, "There's definitely some plays in there that he could have played better on. He knows it. There's some really good plays that he made, off the cuff, that you can't coach. He did a good job. I thought he was very poised. He was very prepared mentally, physically and emotionally."If Smith had remained healthy and kept performing at the same level, Kaepernick would not have received the opportunity he is expected to get Monday night.But at some point before his initial contract expired, Kaepernick would have been given an extended look. Kaepernick and Smith are both signed to the 49ers through the 2014 season.Now, that look comes under the stress of a game that could be viewed as a playoff-simulator as the 49ers and Bears jockey for position in the postseason.
Smith signed a three-year, 24 million contract with the 49ers in the offseason. The structure of the contract makes is easy for the 49ers to make a quarterback switch without taking much of a financial hit.Smith's second-year base salary of 7.5 million is fully guaranteed only if Smith remains on the 49ers' roster on April 1, 2013. Smith received no signing bonus, and only 1 million of his 2013 salary is full guaranteed.In essence, that means nothing is guaranteed for Smith or Kaepernick.

What they're saying: Happy Thanksgiving 2017

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Twitter/@49ers

What they're saying: Happy Thanksgiving 2017

Bay Area sports teams and your favorite players have plenty to be thankful for this year. 

Check out how the teams and players are celebrating Thanksgiving in 2017.

Shanahan: Garoppolo's best football will come next season

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USATSI

Shanahan: Garoppolo's best football will come next season

SANTA CLARA – The two quarterbacks who finish this season with the 49ers are probably going to be the same two quarterbacks the organization carry on their 2018 roster.

So every decision coach Kyle Shanahan makes with C.J. Beathard and Jimmy Garoppolo is being made to consider what is best for those two players.

Shanahan made the expected announcement this week that Beathard will make his fifth consecutive start on Sunday when the 49ers face the Seattle Seahawks at Levi’s Stadium.

Beathard is coming off his best game as a pro. He was a major contributor to the 49ers’ first victory of the season, throwing for 288 yards, throwing two touchdowns and rushing for a score in a 31-21 victory over the New York Giants. His performance seemingly did enough to earn him another start.

Meanwhile, Garoppolo pulled up to 49ers headquarters on Oct. 31 with no prior knowledge of Shanahan’s offensive system. Even as a rookie, Beathard has five more months of experience in the 49ers’ offense than Garoppolo, a four-year professional who made just two starts during his time with the New England Patriots.

“We’ve had C.J. in there for some time,” Shanahan said. “He’s getting more used to it, and I’m getting more used to him. The players are getting more used to him around him. It’s been nice to add a few things each week for him.”

General manager John Lynch reiterated this week he considers Garoppolo the 49ers’ quarterback of the future. Garoppolo is not under contract for next season. If the 49ers are unable to work out a multi-year extension, the club would be expected to designate him as their franchise player to retain him for the 2018 season.

Garoppolo is likely to get some playing time in the final six games of the season, but the 49ers have every reason to take their time in order to give him the best chance at success. On the first three days of the bye week, Garoppolo had a chance to go back to the beginning and learn the basics of the scheme in meetings with quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello and Shanahan.

Shanahan’s scheme is complex with unique verbiage and an abundance of adjustments that are required on any given play. Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan took a step backward in his first season in Shanahan's scheme. The next year, Ryan was a runaway MVP winner with a career-high 38 touchdowns and a career-low seven interceptions.

It took Ryan a full season of experience with Shanahan to fully grasp his responsibilities, so it is unreasonable to believe Garoppolo would be able to do much more than just function if he gets onto the field for extended action.

“Jimmy gets more and more ready each week,” Shanahan said. “Is Jimmy going to be the best he can? To me, that’s impossible. He just hasn’t been here long enough, and I think he’ll get an opportunity to be better each week.

“I don’t think we’re going to see Jimmy’s best football, to be fair to him, until next year because that’s what guys need. But C.J. did play his best football last week, which definitely, to me, made the decision easier.”