Following the franchise’s first regular season tie in 26 seasons, the San Francisco 49ers have no choice to but to “reinvigorate ourselves against a formidable opponent.”
That’s the assessment of Jim Harbaugh, who is moving past Sunday’s 24-24 tie against the St. Louis Rams and on to the next challenge, a Monday night matchup against the Chicago Bears.
The freshness of one of Harbaugh’s players comes into greater focus this week in the days leading up to San Francisco’s third primetime game of 2012.
“Symptoms were positive today,” Harbaugh stressed.
The next step in monitoring Smith’s status for Monday is out of the team’s hands. An independent neurologist will examine the 49ers quarterback on Monday to make the determination if the signal-caller can return to action on Monday.
Meanwhile, Chicago will deal with the same situation as its starter, Jay Cutler, left suffered a concussion early on in a defeat to the Houston Texans.
As for Smith’s concussion, that took place early in San Francisco’s divisional matchup against the Rams. Although Smith took a violent hit to the back of the head and shoulder area from St. Louis linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar on a quarterback run, Harbaugh said that didn’t cause the injury.
“Our doctors were very proactive after that hit,” Harbaugh explained. “Alex had no symptoms after that hit – he was cleared to play.”
Smith, however, suffered another big hit on a fourth down quarterback sneak. Smith stayed in the game for six more plays, completing a 14-yard touchdown to
The 49ers quarterback complained about blurry vision to the team’s medical staff and he was quickly replaced by second-year player
“I think our doctors handled it very well,” Harbaugh said of the trying circumstance that left the team down to Kaepernick and third-year wideout
Harbaugh also felt like his athletic backup turned in a good performance in a tough situation.
“I thought he handled himself pretty well,” Harbaugh said of Kaepernick’s performance (11 of 17 for 117 yards with 66 rushing yards and a 7-yard touchdown run).
Decision-making was also applauded by the 49ers coach.
Considering Kaepernick saw his most extensive and meaningful playing time of his professional career, the young quarterback led the 49ers on a game-tying field goal at the end of regulation and a potential game-winning field goal drive in overtime.
“Overall, I thought he had a solid performance,” the 49ers coach said.
Because of the current status of his starter, Harbaugh will have to wait to see when Smith is cleared for practice before determining how to split up quarterback reps in practice this week.
“Rather than speculate – we’ll let it play out,” Harbaugh added.
The 49ers coach has long said the two quarterbacks can run the full scope of Greg Roman’s offensive attack because of their athletic ability. On Monday, Harbaugh reiterated that the team won’t use two different gameplans depending on Smith’s avaibility.
“There could be some subtle differences, but I wouldn’t call it two plans,” Harbaugh said.
For now, all that matters to the coach is getting reinvigorated for the next challenge. All the reasons for why the 49ers couldn’t win a third consecutive NFC West game are not being dwelled on by the 49ers coach.
“We’re not going to point fingers or come up with a reason to come up with a reason,” Harbaugh said of the tie game against St. Louis.
Even so, Harbaugh couldn’t help but feel odd about the circumstance.
He did, however, reiterate his appreciation for the effort shown by his players in a physical matchup against an improved Rams team.
“It’s a strange feeling, the fact that we didn’t win the game, but you’re proud of your players for how they fought and hung in there,” Harbaugh said. “We all take responsibility for not getting the job done.”
So while there’s only been 14 ties in team history, Harbaugh accepts it for what it is and has moved on.
“As a rule, not many games are going to end in a tie,” he said. “The rules are good, fair for both teams. It just ended up in a tie.”
A victory in San Francisco’s game against Chicago will be critical with both teams in the mix for top NFC playoff seeds.
Harbaugh expects many to be interested in the outcome, too.
“It’s a big game – it’s a huge game,” he said. “Everyone will be crowded in to watch it, see how we respond, see how the Bears respond… The football world will be watching.”