San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith already cleared his first hurdle toward returning to the field after sustaining a concussion Sunday in the 49ers' 24-24 tie with the Rams. Coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday that Smith got a good night of sleep and that his symptoms were "good."
The first step in getting cleared to return after a concussion is the absence of symptoms. For Smith, the problems included blurred vision following a successful quarterback sneak on fourth-and-1 from the Rams' 47-yard line in the second quarter. Smith continued through the drive, throwing a touchdown pass before leaving the game for good.
Once symptoms abate, a concussed player must undergo a series of tests from an independent neurologist.
Smith, apparently clear-eyed and clear-headed, was scheduled for a neurology appointment Monday. Should Smith pass the tests, he would need to engage in a non-contact practice and then a contact practice before he would be cleared to play in a game.
The 49ers do not plan to update the media on Smith's progress.
Backup Colin Kaepernick replaced Smith on Sunday, and he drew praise from Harbaugh for his performance. After starting 2-for-7, the second-year quarterback settled down to lead two fourth-quarter scoring drives. He attacked the Rams' defense with his arm and his legs, gaining 66 yards on eight carries, including a 7-yard touchdown run. He wound up completing 11 of 17 passes for 117 yards.
"He can make plays with his feet; he has a very strong throwing arm," Harbaugh said. "I thought both of those things showed up yesterday. It was a positive the way Colin handled himself. He was confident; he was not scared at all."
It was the first time Kaepernick was thrust into an injury-replacement role with his team trailing.
"It was a new situation for him, and I thought he handled himself well," Harbaugh said. When asked about the backup's on-field decisions, Harbaugh said, "He made some good ones. Like any quarterback, there are a couple he would like to have back. But, overall, a solid performance."