Jim Harbaugh told the media he’ll probably make an announcement on Sunday’s starting quarterback on Wednesday. Translation: Harbaugh may tell us in a couple days that Colin Kaepernick will start in St. Louis, unless he thinks a little more uncertainty will hinder the St. Louis Rams’ ability to prepare for the 49ers’ offense.
Harbaugh maintained that the reason for a Wednesday announcement would be to protect his players from an endless stream of QB-related questions — questions Alex Smith faced after yesterday’s win over the Saints and questions both quarterbacks will continue to face as long as this drags out.
It’s not only the quarterbacks who face these questions. Donte Whitner told Mike Florio on Friday that the team was preparing as if Kaepernick would start in New Orleans, and Joe Staley had this to say on 95.7 FM “The Game” on Monday afternoon when Greg Papa and John Lund asked the quarterback situation.
“Alex is one of my best friends. I’d love to have him out there. He knows how I feel. But at the end of the day it’s a business. We’re paid to play a position. I’m paid to pay left tackle regardless of who I’m out there with. My job is to be the best left tackle I can be. I don’t think it’s going to create division within the team, but it’s a situation we’ve got to kind of deal with.”
It’s comments like these that cause Harbaugh to weigh the pros and cons of keeping opposing teams off balance. Staley didn’t break from Harbaugh’s “The team, the team, the team” mantra, since all he did was throw a little support to a friend during a tough time, a friend for whom he’s blocked for several seasons. However, the 49ers can’t go dark and shield every player from mid-week interviews, and as the Kaepernick-or-Smith question has become national news, questions about the subject will arise each time a player steps to the podium in Santa Clara, faces reporters in the locker room or answers questions from radio hosts.
Harbaugh can insist that no outside forces are tearing his locker room apart, and it’s hard to call the 49ers a sinking ship with their 8-2-1 record and a 2.5-game lead in the NFC West. But as quotes like these surface and the media is left to pick them apart and blow them out of proportion, controlling the message behind closed doors becomes a little more difficult.