Printed on: November 21, 2012

Kaepernick, Smith shine for Niners


ASSOCIATED PRESS

SAN FRANCISCO -- Aldon Smith's high-flying defense gave Colin Kaepernick all kinds of extra chances in his first career NFL start.

And the Kaepernick looked little like a backup in delivering on nearly every one of those opportunities under the lights on football's big stage.

The strong-armed Kaepernick passed for 243 yards and two touchdowns in place of the injured Alex Smith, Aldon Smith had 5? sacks, and the 49ers whipped the Chicago Bears 32-7 on Monday night in a highly anticipated NFC showdown that hardly lived up to the hype.

"I wanted to come out and show what I'm capable of and show that I can be a starter," Kaepernick said. "That's what I've been trying to prove since I've been here."

With Aldon Smith wreaking havoc on the other side of the ball, Kaepernick threw touchdown passes to Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree, and Kendall Hunter ran for a 14-yard score as San Francisco (7-2-1) jumped out to a big lead by scoring on each of its first four possessions.

Jason Campbell, the other quarterback in this matchup of backups for division leaders, threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall in the third quarter, but was sacked six times and threw two interceptions in his first start since October 2011 for Oakland.

He faced fierce pressure all night, playing for the Bears (7-3) while starter Jay Cutler recovers from a concussion suffered eight days earlier -- just like Alex Smith.

After Kaepernick's stellar night on national TV, there's certain to be chatter of a quarterback controversy for the NFC West-leading Niners. And anyone who knows coach Jim Harbaugh knows he's all about competition -- at every spot on the field.

"I usually tend to go with the hot hand, and we've got two quarterbacks with hot hands," he said. "We'll make that decision when we have to make it."

Kaepernick certainly isn't counting on it.

"I don't think one game can be called a hot hand," he said.

Around the NFL

Broncos lose McGahee to ACL tear: The lockers of the running backs who might take Willis McGahee's spot in the Broncos lineup are conveniently lined up, four in a row.

Lance Ball. Knowshon Moreno. Jeremiah Johnson. Ronnie Hillman.

Barring an unlikely free agent signing, some combination of those four will be asked to fill in for the foreseeable future for Denver's leading rusher, McGahee, who tore a ligament in his right knee and will be out for what's expected to be a six-to-eight week stint.

"We've all got to step up and do our part," Hillman said. "Anyone can be an option."

Coach John Fox said McGahee's injury, suffered in the second quarter of Denver's 30-23 victory over San Diego on Sunday, will not require surgery and that the Broncos had no immediate plans to put the 10th-year veteran on injured reserve. Asked about reports that McGahee had also fractured his leg, Fox said, "I don't want to get into too much of the exacts, other than he will not be on IR."

Harbaugh undergoing follow-up evaluation on heart: San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh had an appointment Tuesday for a follow-up evaluation with doctors after undergoing a minor procedure last Thursday for an irregular heartbeat.

The 49ers canceled Harbaugh's scheduled media conference call minutes before it was to begin Tuesday afternoon, a day after San Francisco's 32-7 victory over the Chicago Bears, but gave no indication that there is anything of further concern with Harbaugh's health in addition to what he went through last week. The team released a schedule with Harbaugh set for his usual Wednesday news conference.

Harbaugh, the reigning NFL Coach of the Year who turns 49 next month, was candid about the "cardiovert" -- or shocking of the heart to treat an irregular heartbeat -- he had done at Stanford Hospital. He has had the condition for most of his life, he said.

Ravens S Reed wins appeal, avoids suspension: Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed avoided a one-game suspension for late hits after an appeal. He instead will be fined $50,000.

Reed was suspended for one game without pay on Monday by NFL vice president of football operations Merton Hanks for his third violation in three seasons of the rule prohibiting helmet-to-helmet hits against defenseless players. The third violation occurred in Sunday night's game at Pittsburgh: Reed's hit to the head of receiver Emmanuel Sanders.

Reed appealed the ruling in phone session Tuesday morning with NFL hearing officer Ted Cottrell. The NFL Players Association represented Reed, who also participated.

Redskins LB Fletcher's streak in danger once again: London Fletcher's consecutive games streak is in danger once again.

The Washington Redskins linebacker did not practice Tuesday because of a sprained right ankle and has little time to recover before Thursday's Thanksgiving game against the Dallas Cowboys.

"A short week doesn't help," Fletcher said. "That's my main concern, that I have three less days to try to give myself some time to heal, things like that. The only thing I can do is get as much treatment as possible, let the training staff do their thing and see how I feel in pregame and whether I'm able to go or not. That'll pretty much be the deal."