Quarterback updates are all the rage at 49ers headquarters these days. On Thursday, offensive coordinator Greg Roman offered the latest news on Alex Smith, saying he hopes the signal-caller will finally be cleared for contact on Friday.
Smith wore a black jersey designated for non-contact players during the Thanksgiving practice session, before Roman briefed reporters on the latest developments between Smith and Colin Kaepernick.
“No decision has been made,” Roman said. “We’re hopeful that Alex gets cleared tomorrow, physically. We’re confident in both quarterbacks to be on the field. We’re always going to weigh all the information as we have it and make the best decision for the team at the time. We have ultimate confidence in either.”
Roman said he was impressed with Kaepernick, who went 16 of 23 for 243 yards and two touchdowns in his first NFL start on “Monday Night Football” in a 32-7 win over the vaunted Chicago Bears. But it sounds like the 49ers coaching staff is in no rush to name a starter, as Smith goes through a battery of tests to ensure he’s physically fit to take the field.
“It’s a great situation to be in,” Roman said. “What’s happened up to this point is history. It’s all about going down to New Orleans and trying to find a way to get the win.”
As everyone waits to hear a decision from the 49ers, the team is busy preparing for its Week 12 road matchup against New Orleans. The Saints started out the season on an 0-4 skid before winning five of its last six to reach the .500 mark.
Much of the team’s turnaround has to do with its defense, as the Saints gave up an average of 32.5 points per game during the first four games of the season and 23.8 since. Regardless of who’s under center, New Orleans will be tasked with trying to slow down the top-ranked 49ers rushing attack, which averages 165.3 yards per game.
During a conference call on Wednesday, Saints coach Joe Vitt said the 49ers are on pace to break the NFL record for most runs of at least 10 yards over the course of a season. Roman attributed the success to a team-wide effort.
“We’ve all learned as coaches over the years, no matter what you draw up, it’s the players getting it done that matters,” Roman said. “I think our offensive line, our wide receivers, have been a big, key part of those extended runs down the field.
“I think when you look at our receivers, relative to most in the league, I think they work better than anybody down the field blocking.”
Roman also continued to praise the tight ends and fullback Bruce Miller for their non-stop efforts in the blocking department, while giving credit for Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter for finishing runs.
“It’s a big game,” Gore said. “The Saints, they’re playing great ball. They’ve got the same guys, great quarterback who leads the team and it’s going to be a good game.”
Gore may be taking notes from the mauling offensive line, as he laid an impressive block on Bears linebacker Lance Briggs on Monday night, leveling him to the Candlestick turf.
“I respect him and he respects me,” Gore said of Briggs. “He’s been doing a great job at his position for a long time and he’s a great player. We talked after the game and he just told me to keep running hard and keep working hard and to stay healthy.”
Gore also weighed in on the quarterbacks situation.
“Whatever coach says, goes,” Gore said. “We’ve got two great quarterbacks on the team and we’re happy that we have two good quarterbacks.”
Tags: Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore, Greg Roman
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