Nov 28, 2012 4:21 PM by Andrew Masuda

Kaepernick to start for 49ers at St. Louis Sunday

San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh announced Wednesday Colin Kaepernick, not Alex Smith, will start at quarterback at St. Louis against the Rams on Sunday.

In his two NFL starts in a span of seven days, as well as his other brief moments in relief of Alex Smith, Kaepernick has completed 48 of 74 passes for 680 yards and three touchdowns. He had one interception and was sacked six times. He has a 102.3 passer rating.

"Colin, we believe, has the hot hand," Harbaugh said.

If Kaepernick leads the 49ers to victory Sunday, he'll make franchise history. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no 49ers quarterback since the 1970 merger has won his first three starts with the team.

Smith had started 28 consecutive games for the 49ers before he suffered a concussion Nov. 11 in the team's 24-24 tie with St. Louis.

Smith had been playing some of his best football before being injured, completing 25 of 27 passes for 304 yards and four touchdowns with no turnovers in his two previous games. He leads the NFL with a 70.0 completion percentage and is third in the league with an average gain of 7.98 yards per pass attempt.

In recent weeks, Harbaugh has vowed to go with the "hot hand" as his quarterback. Now, he has two who fit that mold. Kaepernick has won back-to-back games in his first two NFL starts -- the first was Nov. 19, a Monday night game against the Bears, when Smith was not yet medically cleared to play after his concussion.

Smith, the 2005 No. 1 overall draft pick, hardly looked happy on the sideline Sunday, when the 49ers defeated the Saints 31-21 in New Orleans. Last week, he said the 49ers have a good problem with him and Kaepernick both able to lead the team to victory, and he plans to remain positive regarding what's best for the team.

The NFC West-leading Niners (8-2-1) own the second-best record in the conference behind Atlanta.



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