Here is the opening to my Monday column on the 49ers’ victory over the New Orleans Saints:

NEW ORLEANS — Jim Harbaugh is an excellent dancer. If they held a dance contest in the NFL, he’d win. He can do the jig, the Lindy Hop and the boogaloo. He was dancing up a storm after the 49ers defeated the Saints 31-21 on Sunday, dancing around every question about who will start next game at quarterback for his team.

“We’ll address that at a later date,” Harbaugh said.

To read the full column, please click here.

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  1. Alex

    Lowell, a couple questions -

    Did you ask Alex Boone about getting kicked in the head? I was shocked to see that. “Kill the head and the body will die.” Disgusting to see that in a game.

    I can’t personally think of any reason to play Alex at this point other than it would cause a revolt in the locker room. Do you get the sense that the players are behind a change if it should happen?

    Finally, watching this game was like watching the 49ers back when Steve was QB. It’s like the training wheels have been removed from the offense. Did you know the ball can travel more than 5 yards in the air? I was starting to think that would be a penalty.

    November 25th, 2012 11:15 pm

  2. chewie

    My favorite line:
    ” He saw what Kaepernick did against the Saints, a good team playing for its playoff life, a good team playing in a giant room so loud it sounded like the inside of a nightmare.”

    A nightmare only for Alex Smith.

    November 25th, 2012 11:24 pm

  3. mendozaline

    A pass that Smith couldn’t throw with a rocket launcher attached to his arm? More sturm und drang, like Mozart’s Synphony 25, than his String Quartets. But other than that quibble, a good column.

    November 26th, 2012 12:35 am

  4. KezarMike

    Great column Lowell. Excellent take on this on 49erswebzone by the way. It would seem to me that a coach’s “contract” with his players is that he will do whatever he can for the team to be successful and the first/PRIMARY part of this contract is that the player who demonstrates that he is the best at each position will be the one who gets to play. A player must be able to depend on this, if nothing else, as he goes about making a career of being a pro football player, whether he is a first round pick or an undrafted free agent.

    November 26th, 2012 3:46 am

  5. KezarMike

    Also add that this scene is almost unprecedented in NFL annals. A QB who is completing 70% of his passes, 5th leading passer in the league, and his team in first place. BUT …. an injury allowed another player to demonstrate that he is a BETTER and more dynamic player and so he should get the starting position. I do believe that if Alex had followed up those last five fantastic minutes against New Orleans with his A game against the Giants and taken the 49ers into the SB …… then he would have bought himself this year as the starter pretty much no matter what. But ….. he didn’t and so the team wanted a player who was MORE effective, and thus the pursuit of Manning and now the turn to Kaep. As I wrote to you in an email about 3 years ago, I felt Alex’s ceiling was “Kerry Collins” and that isn’t good enough if a team wants to be GREAT. Kaep? As the saying goes, he could be something REAL special. Exciting to contemplate him as possibly the next great 49er QB.

    November 26th, 2012 3:54 am

  6. KezarMike

    Lastly, I’ll restate briefly in my own way what was said in 49erswebzone about Alex. I’ve always admired the way Alex Smith has gone about his career. A real “never give up” kind of guy who I remember stating that he wanted to the first No.1 overall pick who failed with the team that drafted him and then stayed and suceeded with that team. Besides his great attitude and hard work, he also is athletic and has a good arm. He’s just not ……. great. Neither was Jeff Kemp or Matt Cavanaugh, too guys who were also pretty good and probably could have started many games if things had worked out for them. But none of them could you see in the Hall of Fame. Kaep? Maybe he can be a great one, looks like he’s got the physical tools, the maturity, the hard work attirude and the quiet confidence needed. There’s Luck, Griffin, Dalton, Newton, and other real good young QBs in the league with no ceiling to their potential. Now we have one too. (and also I’ll add that Alex is one of the nicest guys I’ve seen on any Bay Area team in the 47 years I’ve been following sports). *Greetings from Chiang Mai, Thailand by the way, where at least one person is still obsessed with the 49ers and Giants (wear my cap here).

    November 26th, 2012 4:03 am

  7. Streetglide

    Unless Colin is injured, he is the QB. Smith will end up in Arizona or in the AFC somewhere. Alex did his best and maybe his career was star-crossed, but he isn’t anywhere near the QB that Colin is.

    November 26th, 2012 6:10 am

  8. Eric Janssen

    Yeah I’ll ditto Alex’s question: ‘Do you get the sense that the players are behind a change if it should happen?’- anybody want a SB ring?
    Also, you got’s remember that Harbaugh’s a freak. In a good way. Like the Kaptain. Freaks need love too. Bless Alex, but he ain’t no freak.

    November 26th, 2012 8:02 am

  9. Shane

    wow. you’d think from reading all this that Kaepernick put up a lot more than 231 yards and 17 points on the board on offense…

    this team was one fluky play away from the super bowl, and as yesterday shows, this team wins on smashmouth defense not dynamic offense.

    Does anyone really think Kaepernick waltzes in here in week 10 and takes them to the Super Bowl as a second year QB in his first handful of starts?

    Doesn’t that just sound a little too good to be true?

    this team wins with Alex Smith. they generate consistent offense with Smith, and they don’t turn the ball over. i wouldn’t pull the trigger on Kaep right now. I”d give Alex a chance to finish and get to the big game and open it next year if he doesn’t get it done.

    November 26th, 2012 8:30 am

  10. Dennis

    It wouldn’t surprise me if Harbaugh went back to Alex for the Ram game. If Kaepernick was his starting QB he would not be afraid to say so. But Kaepernick will take over on a permanent basis sooner or later. He does look better than Smith out there. Just escaping the rush, forget about the passing. He doesn’t seem to take a sack and that gives the team a lot of confidence.

    November 26th, 2012 8:40 am

  11. NoName

    Lowell, you are right on with your assessment of the QB situation. There is a reason why Alex Smith did not get a long term contract. Scott Tolzien will do fine(and cheap) as a backup behind Kaepernick. Alex Smith will have a descent end to his career, and will have to adjust to a different offensive coordinator, blah, blah, blah, and the other team will have to deal with the excuses of having Alex adjust to another offensive playcaller/system, while the Niners will move on and win 2 or 3 SBs in the next 4 years. I think tying the Rams was probably the last straw that broke the Camel’s back. The first half of that game is a joke, offense on life support. A tie vs a team that you expect to pound into submission. It is indeed time to move on to No. 7.

    November 26th, 2012 9:37 am

  12. Dr. Feelgood

    Who wants a predictable coach? Singletary was predictable. Nolan was predictable. Harbaugh- he dances. He can do them all, minuet to hip hop.
    I can sympathize with the beat writers, but as a season ticket holder I want maximum bang for my buck. The Niners are now back to being great entertainment value. I like that. JH can say whatever he wants or say nothing. The only thing that matters to me is the game.

    November 26th, 2012 9:45 am

  13. lameduck

    I wonder if James and Jenkins will be active against the Rams since Hunter/Williams were dinged. That would be similar logic the CK / Smith situation. Let the next guy in line step up.

    I don’t think that Harbaugh can make a bad decision on the QB issue. I’m not sure that’s the most important thing in beating the Rams who last time out coached us. He has to deal with Fischer who’s team is starting to believe in itself.

    I wonder what the Niners have to do to beat the Rams. I’m pretty sure the most important part of the plan isn’t which QB we’re starting based on the last game. On the other hand it would change the Rams game plan.

    I think if he played Smith on Sunday and the Niners lost, it would be devastating to Smith and Harbaugh publicly. Lest we forget the defense is what beat the Saints on Sunday.

    November 26th, 2012 10:24 am

  14. Bob In Portland

    No problem with Kaepernick starting. The schadenfraude is just ugly, though.

    November 26th, 2012 10:30 am

  15. Mark M

    I haven’t been this excited about the team for a long long time. It’s been difficult to jump fully on board with Harbaugh and Co. while they propped up Smith for so long. But this is the true fresh start I’ve been waiting for since he arrived. And we flat out look like the best team in football as a result of this change. Knocking out the Saints by 10 points in NO, holding them to 21 points in a dome, getting a lead on a team and allowing our pass rush to go full out…..what a great recipe for an impressive win in a very hostile environment.

    November 26th, 2012 10:32 am

  16. Brandon Conway

    “Kaepernick led the Niners to a win and did things Alex Smith never allowed himself to dream of doing. Smith would be embarrassed to have fantasies about stuff Kaepernick does routinely.”

    Really Lowell? Really? This is garbage writing. Just garbage. By this notion most of the QBs in NFL history would be embarrassed to have fantasies about winning a playoff game like Smith did last season. Kaepernick included.

    The complete lack of tact you and the world show towards Smith is absurd.

    November 26th, 2012 11:00 am

  17. Tommy CostaRica

    Lowell you didn’t mention anything in your column about Alex on the sidelines with his helmet on. I found this disturbing. What’s wrong with a baseball cap and a clipboard? They kept showing him on the telecast because he shouldn’t be wearing his helmet. This leads me to the question of if the Pebble Beach Pro Am was to start today who would be Harbaugh’s caddy?

    November 26th, 2012 3:02 pm

  18. glenellen

    This is the way I, for one, see it.
    49ers (Smith) had bad results in past two NY Giants games. Not happy about the Ram game either. The 49ers could very well face NY Giants again in the playoffs, or another high power offense like Atlanta.
    Rams = Kaep
    Dolphins = Alex
    Patriots= Kaep
    Seattle= Kaep
    Ariz= Alex
    This will keep Kaep fresh and throw Alex a bone.

    November 26th, 2012 4:36 pm

  19. Bob In Portland

    Tommy CostaRica, I heard somewhere Smith was wearing his helmet in order to hear the plays being called in to the huddle. Wanted to stay involved. Nothing wrong with that.

    November 26th, 2012 5:42 pm

  20. Johnc

    Kaepernick is the man. He played better than his stats considering all the drops and penalties. Love the way he extends the play and throws downfield. Now the offence is explosive and can come back when the Niners trail. Opposing defenses can’t crowd up anymore looking for the 5 yard dinks and dunks that Alex threw bloating his completion percentage.
    Now that was funny about Harbaugh dance moves. I had this image of Jack Nicholson as the manical Joker character holding an umbrella ..dancing with the devil in the pale moonlight….

    November 26th, 2012 7:45 pm

  21. Johnc

    typo…maniacal…meant to say

    November 26th, 2012 7:49 pm

  22. B-Rad

    How many Super Bowl contending teams can you think of that would
    have much of a chance if they lost their starting QB from here on out?
    I can think of one.

    November 26th, 2012 9:07 pm

  23. SFFranciscan

    So the logic, if I’ve understood you, is that two games in November (Kaepernick was mediocre against the Rams, remember) proves greatness?

    If Kaepernick does not lead “his” team to the NFC Championship this decision by Harbaugh was a mistake. No coach in NFL history has ever benched the third-rated QB in the league in week 12. So let’s see how the gamble plays out. Though don’t kid yourself–it is a gamble. But for those of you who have buried Smith (many times), now you need to be honest: only a Super Bowl appearance validates Harbaugh here. Anything less, and this was just a foolish, impulsive decision. Bill Walsh, George Seifert, they never would have done this, not three quarters through the season. Perhaps Harbaugh is a cut above.

    Still, from here on, don’t expect anyone on the 49ers to believe that nonsense about “THE TEAM, THE TEAM, THE TEAM!”

    Loyalty? Over two decades ago Jim Harbaugh was livid with Ditka for playing the same sort of mind games on him…and it ended badly for everyone. Troy Aikman, Kurt Warner, Steve Young, Dan Marino (all much better players than Harbaugh)…they’re appalled.

    Lowell, are they wrong? Why? Kaepernick’s better than Smith? You won’t know that until January. And if he isn’t, do let us know.

    November 26th, 2012 9:27 pm

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