Redskins

After another big win, 49ers QBs still in limbo

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After another big win, 49ers QBs still in limbo

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Jim Harbaugh has watched each of his two quarterbacks lead the San Francisco 49ers to big wins in hostile, road environments - Alex Smith in the season opener at Green Bay's Lambeau Field back in September among others, and Colin Kaepernick on Sunday at the New Orleans Superdome.

Which one gets the ball on Sunday when the 49ers travel to St. Louis? Harbaugh is still mum on that, though he did say Monday he will formally announce his starting quarterback by mid-week so the players don't have to face constant questions about what they know about the situation.

Kaepernick said he was told late Saturday in a team meeting ahead of Sunday's start against the Saints.

Then, on Monday, Harbaugh offered this for thought: Yes, he's keeping everybody guessing again. Sort of.

``Alex Smith is our starting quarterback. He has not done anything to lose that job,'' Harbaugh said. ``In fact, he's playing at a very high level. Also, Colin Kaepernick, you can't categorize him as a backup quarterback, because he's started games and played very well in those games.''

Clearly, Harbaugh is growing tired of all the talk about his quarterback situation, even if much of the drama is of his own creation - and he refuses to categorize it as a ``controversy'' with two capable guys in the mix each week. He said again Monday that anything is possible this week, even using both quarterbacks in the game.

``The guys will be hammered,'' Harbaugh said. ``You go to Colin, you go to Alex, `Should you be the starter?' He's got no good answer for you. He says, `Yes, I should be the starter' - we're talking either one - and you look like you're just building up yourself. If you say no, then they hammer you because you don't think you should be the starter. Then the people, so-called subject matter experts, who talk about, ``You should be making a fuss about it or a stink about it, you shouldn't be that accommodating,'' it sends a completely wrong message, to me, for young athletes out there, or high school quarterbacks, where their coach is trying to tell them it's about the team and all of us working together. So that one gets me upset. That's not what our two guys are about.''

The NFC West-leading Niners (8-2-1) now own the second-best record in the NFC behind Atlanta as they head to face the Rams in a game that will mean plenty for both teams after their 24-24 tie Nov. 11.

In recent weeks, Harbaugh has vowed to go with the ``hot hand'' as his quarterback. Now, he has two guys who fit that mold, yet Kaepernick has won back-to-back games in his first two NFL starts - the first last Monday night against the Bears before Smith was medically cleared from his concussion.

For now, Harbaugh seems to be playing both sides. He wouldn't say when asked whether he has already made a decision for Sunday.

``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,'' Harbaugh said. ``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 football the last three football games.''

Smith, the 2005 No. 1 overall draft pick, hardly looked happy on the sideline Sunday. Last week, he said the 49ers have a good problem with him and Kaepernick able to lead the team to victory, and he plans to remain positive regarding what's best for the 49ers.

``He's a class act all the way -team player, that's why he has been voted captain by our players,'' Harbaugh said. ``They're great team guys, they're great example guys. We need them both. Both have played extremely well.''

In his two NFL starts last week and his other brief moments in relief, Kaepernick has completed 48 of 74 passes for 680 yards and three touchdowns with one interception and was sacked six times. He has a 102.3 passer rating.

``He's a good athlete and I know that we respected him. You don't really know until you get on him for real,'' Saints defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said Monday. ``I tip my hat to him. We had some people on him who could have finished him and didn't and that's because he's a pretty good athlete and that makes it tough. He's going to make a lot of people miss.''

Smith, meanwhile, has completed 26 of his last 28 passes and sports a 104.1 passer rating with 13 touchdowns.

While so much attention is on the team's quarterback situation, the 49ers' opportunistic defense produced a pair of pick-sixes - by Ahmad Brooks and Donte Whitner - and sacked record-setting Saints quarterback Drew Brees five times Sunday.

Harbaugh will be looking for the same kind of performances Sunday against the Rams. Both teams missed field goals in overtime and left Candlestick Park feeling as if they let the game slip away. It was the NFL's first tie in four years.

Not that Harbaugh is looking back at that frustrating finish.

``Really have a whole new light on unfinished business. I think all this is new business,'' he said. ``The new business is this game, this most important game because it's our next game. It's just that hard focus on that. It's not about unfinished business, it's about new business. New business is getting prepared to travel well, prepare to practice well and prepare to go there and do what it takes to be victorious.''

Notes: WR and return man Kyle Williams said Monday he will miss the rest of the season with a torn ligament in his left knee sustained Sunday. Williams posted on his Twitter account that he has a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the knee. Surgery would be the likely next step. The team didn't release anything on his injury, or that of RB Kendall Hunter. They were hurt on the same play in the third quarter. Harbaugh did say Williams was hurt before contact when his foot stuck in the turf.

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AP Sports Writer Brett Martel in New Orleans contributed to this story.

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Bruce Allen addresses Alex Smith's recovery and the Redskins' future at quarterback

Bruce Allen addresses Alex Smith's recovery and the Redskins' future at quarterback

Alex Smith is "well on his way to a recovery," Bruce Allen told reporters at the Senior Bowl. When that recovery ultimately happens, though, remains unclear.

"We'll see where it goes," Allen said in his first session with the media in quite some time. "We're optimistic. If anyone can come back, it's Alex."

"I appreciate the love and the care, that all of our fans have reached out to him," he added. "It's a tough thing for him and his family, but all the love and the care have helped him quite a bit."

Smith, who's a little more than two months past his devastating leg injury, was seen at Monday's Wizards game at Capital One Arena. He also hung out in the Wizards' locker room, using crutches to get around. He was wearing an external fixator on his right leg.

The fact that Smith was able to be out in public was encouraging from a human perspective. From a football perspective, however, it brought about additional concern regarding his future in the NFL.

But that doubt isn't forcing the 'Skins to make acquiring a signal caller a primary task in the coming months, according to Allen.

"We prioritize every position on the team and we'll see what we get in free agency and the draft," the team president said. "We don't have to make that decision right now."

Colt McCoy is one in-house option for the Burgundy and Gold, and he'll be healthy enough to participate in the offseason programs, per Allen. McCoy broke his leg a few weeks after Smith, but his break was much less severe.

In looking back on the trade to get Smith from the Chiefs last January, Allen referred to it as a "no-brainer" and recalled that all decision makers were "unanimous" in their interest in Smith. 

Yet, while it's wholly unfair to criticize the trade now considering how unexpected last season's events were, Smith's health has put the Redskins in a very difficult spot.

The main thing off the field, of course, is hoping and ensuring that he's able to live his life how he wants to. 

On the field, meanwhile, the Redskins need to do something under center. Allen can say that every position is of equal priority, but the simple truth is that this franchise's every step will be tied to Smith's injury as well as finding a new option as long as he's sidelined.

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The Arena Football League is expanding to Atlantic City with Monumental's third team

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The Arena Football League is expanding to Atlantic City with Monumental's third team

Arena Football is officially expanding to Atlantic City N.J., the League announced Tuesday. 

The expansion franchise, owned by Ted Leonsis' Monumental Sports & Entertainment, expected to be placed at the historic Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall, will begin its inaugural season in April.

Sports gambling's recent emergence has to be appealing to this venue and location for obvious reasons. Seven casinos now have sports books on their properties. DraftKings, an Arena League partner, operates one at Resorts Casino Hotel.

“We are thrilled that Atlantic City will be the next great arena football town,” said Leonsis in an official release. “Arena Football is a game that’s tailor-made for an integrated sports betting experience, and Atlantic City is a perfect fit to help realize our vision for the AFL as the next frontier in sports betting and gaming.

“We are excited about this announcement and about future expansion of the league to come.”

Atlantic City is now the fifth active franchise in the Arena League, joining the Phialdelphia Soul, Albany (New York) Empire and the MSE-owned Baltimore Brigade and Washington Valor. 

Fans are invited to submit team name ideas at AtlanticCityAFL.com. The final choices will then be available for a fan vote at a later date.

The reigning champion Washington Valor greeted the brand new team shortly after the announcement. 

The 2019 regular season schedule will feature 12 games. Atlantic City is in the process of searching for its first head coach.