So what does it mean that Colin Kaepernick finished the San Francisco 49ers' game Sunday against the New York Giants? Are the 49ers grooming him to eventually replace Alex Smith? Was Smith's sprained middle finger hurting more than he let on? Or were the 49ers simply protecting Smith after he was sacked four times?
More than likely it's the latter. As is his pattern, coach Jim Harbaugh once again supported Smith even after the quarterback's three-interception performance in the 49ers' 26-3 shellacking at the hands of the Giants.
"We've just been using Colin as an added weapon. We feel like we're getting plenty of everything from Alex," Harbaugh said.
Smith, meanwhile, was thankful for the short week, with the 49ers scheduled to play Thursday against the Seahawks. Smith is prone to mulling his mistakes, and on Monday, the three interceptions were still on his mind.
When asked if he moves on quickly from a loss, Smith said, "Definitely not right away. That's not me, no."
But now with a division game on tap for Thursday, Smith has no choice. He indicated that he might learn from his Giants experience and not try to force throws even though the team is down.
"You are just making matters worse," Smith said. "Make good decisions. That's what I'm kicking myself for."
Even though Smith didn't play well, he isn't getting a challenge from Kaepernick at this stage. Even in garbage minutes, Kaepernick still proved raw, nearly throwing an interception to Prince Amukamara and then taking a sack, the Giants' sixth of the day, on fourth down.