Colin Kaepernick Earns Another Start, but What Does It Mean?

Bleacher ReportCorrespondent INovember 22, 2012

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

According to Sports Illustrated, Colin Kaepernick will start at quarterback in the 49ers' upcoming game against the New Orleans Saints In explaining his decision to start Kaepernick over Alex Smith, coach Jim Harbaugh indicated that the decision was not based on the health of Smith, who sustained a concussion nearly two weeks ago against the St. Louis Rams.  

So what does all of this mean? It means Harbaugh was serious in Monday's post-game (via Yahoo Sports) interview when he said he'd go with the guy who had the hot hand.  After carving up one of the best defenses in the league, Kaepernick now has a chance to shred one of the worst down in the Superdome.  

This should be particularly interesting, because if Kaepernick continues to put up exceptional numbers in the starting role, Smith's future with the team comes into serious question.  The 49ers are already up against the salary cap and only have Kaepernick under contract through the end of next season.  The team also has several players that will be free agents at the end of this year and next, so is it realistic to pay two starting quarterbacks big money? Absolutely not. 

That being said, if Kaepernick struggles, it could result in Smith's return to a starting role.  Part of the issue on Monday night's game was that Chicago hardly had any game film on Kaepernick, making it difficult for them to prepare defensively.  The Bears may have been expecting Kaepernick to run more (remember the 49ers/Jets game?) or for the 49ers to just pound the rock with running back Frank Gore. It was only after Kaepernick torched the Bears through the air in the first half that they began to respect the pass.  

So will the 49ers vs. Saints game turn into a shootout or a blowout? It's unlikely to be a low-scoring affair, especially with Saints quarterback Drew Brees on the other side.