A long-held canon of coaching holds that no player should forfeit his starting role because of injury. That is, if a first-stringer gets hurt, his place in the line-up is restored upon recovery.
Jim Harbaugh's coaching manual must be missing a page. He is sticking with Colin Kaepernick at quarterback for San Francisco even though Alex Smith has been cleared two weeks after becoming concussed.
Smith is no slouch. Ranked fifth this season among NFL passers, he is 20-6-1 for Harbaugh and, without some special teams boo-boos, might have delivered the 49ers to the latest Super Bowl.
But Kaepernick has a livelier arm, which better suits him for the modern game. The Niners have overly relied on their defence, and Kaepernick brings more balance to an offence heretofore predictable for its lean toward the run.
Protecting a rehabbing player from job loss should not be a rule, but a guideline, Meaning, exceptions should be permissible.
Harbaugh invites flak for his almost comical campaign of deception. Sensitive to Smith's feelings, he refers to both as starters, suggesting that Kaepernick is the short-term regular and his in-house competitor the long-term.
In sports, the only time that matters is now.
No matter how much Harbaugh prevaricates, the goateed guy known as "Kap" in the locker room is the starter.
The coach deserves any benefit of the doubt if only because of the position in which he excelled as a player: quarterback.