There's no way Jim Harbaugh turns this team over to the youngster while Alex Smith is still playing as well as he is. After all, Smith does rank No. 3 in the NFL with a 104.1 passer rating and was on a near-legendary streak of excellence before getting knocked out in Week 11.
Counting the game against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 8 and the first quarter of the team's game against the St. Louis Rams in Week 10, Smith completed 25-of-27 passes for 304 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions—good for a passer rating of 153.2.
Saying all that, there's no way the 49ers can keep Kaepernick on the bench all game, right?
He's clearly a player who must be utilized, as he can do things with the football that Smith couldn't do on his best day.
With that in mind, let's take a look at a few ways the 49ers can use Kaepernick when Smith returns.
With the incredible array of talent and speed the 49ers have on the roster, the triple-option offense is one this team needs to utilize more often.
Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, Delanie Walker and Mario Manningham are all capable of running the ball effectively on any given play, and all four are excellent receivers.
Furthermore, Colin Kaepernick is always a threat to take it the distance with his own two feet.
The triple-option offense stretches opposing defenses to the max, and Kaepernick should be in the game more often for this purpose.
In the NFL, speed kills, and Colin Kaepernick is one fast quarterback.
I'm positive that Kaepernick would beat Frank Gore and possibly even Kendall Hunter in a 40-yard dash. He's capable of getting to the outside of defenses near the goal line, as we saw against the New York Jets in Week 4.
Furthermore, he's cool under pressure and is developing some nice touch on his red-zone passes, as we saw in Week 11 against the Chicago Bears.
Alex Smith has become an extremely accurate passer, but his arm strength is still just as limited as it ever was.
The team's wide receivers are capable of stretching the field. Guys like Ted Ginn, Kyle Williams and Randy Moss can outflank secondaries multiple times a game, but Smith hasn't been able to hit many deep passes.
Colin Kaepernick, on the other hand, can throw the football a country mile, and he isn't afraid to let 'em rip when he sees single coverage.
Vernon Davis has been mysteriously absent in the 49ers' passing attack since Week 5, but he had a coming-out party on Monday Night Football against the Chicago Bears.
He caught more passes against the Bears than he had in any previous game this season, and his second-quarter touchdown catch was his first since Week 4.
Kaepernick has the arm strength to zip passes into tighter windows than Alex Smith, which is a necessary ingredient to get Davis involved while teams are focused on the talented tight end.
Kaepernick needs more opportunities to get Davis and the team's other speedy receivers involved. If he does, the 49ers will inevitably score more points, putting their opponents in the unenviable position of having to play from behind against Aldon Smith and the team's resurgent pass-rush.