SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Colin Kaepernick, who has led the 49ers to wins in his first two NFL starts, has earned a third straight start at quarterback over Alex Smith, coach Jim Harbaugh announced Wednesday.
"The rationale is we have two quarterbacks that we feel great about as a starting quarterback," Harbaugh said. "Both have earned it, both deserve it — Alex over a long period of time, Colin by virtue of the last three games. It tips the scales. Colin we believe has the hot hand. We'll go with Colin. And we'll go with Alex. They're both our guys."
Harbaugh is leaving open every possibility, saying it still could be a week-to-week decision. All Kaepernick knows is he will begin Sunday's game against St. Louis under center.
Kaepernick has completed 48 of 74 passes for 680 yards and three touchdowns with one interception and six sacks. He has a 102.3 passer rating.
"I don't know if it's a hot hand. Whatever you want to call it. I'm just happy I get to go back out there," Kaepernick said.
Smith, the 2005 No. 1 overall pick, was medically cleared from a Nov. 11 concussion but did not play last week.
Suh fined, not suspended: Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who was fined $30,000 but not suspended for unnecessary roughness against Texans quarterback Matt Schaub, did not appear to be remorseful. "A lot of things happen to me. It's part of the game," said Suh, whose foot hit Schaub below the belt. "… It's a crazy play. … I can't do much more about it. I was being dragged to the ground and my foot inadvertently hit the man."
Viking fined $21K: Jared Allen's hit on Lance Louis, which knocked the Bears guard out for the year, earned the Vikings defensive end a $21,000 fine from the NFL, the Associated Press reported. Allen blindsided Louis with a block after an interception, and Louis suffered a torn ACL. Several Bears called the hit dirty. Allen said he never intended to injure Louis.
Jaguars take Babin: Jacksonville claimed two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Babin off waivers from Philadelphia and will pay the remaining $1.69 million of his 2012 salary, essentially taking a low-risk look at someone who could upgrade one of the league's worst pass rushes.
Bengal Calls Raiders cowards: Bengals tackle Andrew Whitworth, who expects to be fined after his ejection along with Lamarr Houston and Tommy Kelly, said Raiders players gouged his eyes during a scrum. "You've got guys that want to make names for themselves and can't, and then they get frustrated," Whitworth said. "… Most of those guys, they are what they are: They're cowards."
Browns: Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden, who suffered a concussion last week, practiced and will likely start this week against Oakland.
Raiders: Linebacker Rolando McClain, the eighth overall pick in 2010 who has been held out of practice for undisclosed reasons, is expected to be released today, ESPN.com reported.