ESPN's Chris Mortensen has reported that San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith was not cleared to play by an independent neurologist. Earlier reports suggested that Smith was on track to playing. Second-year QB Colin Kaepernick will suit up against the Chicago Bears for Monday Night Football. This will be his first career start. This is a vital game considering the 49ers would obviously prefer to have an opening round bye and Chicago currently has a slight edge in the standings.
The 49ers have a tough remaining schedule beyond Chicago too and have by no means locked up a playoff spot. Losing Smith, even though he is not one of the NFL's elite, is still a big blow for a team that heavily relies on a precise and turnover-free offense. Kaepernick is not worth a roster spot, but fantasy owners should certainly keep an eye on him. His ability to run and pass can rack up points quickly. Usually teams play more conservatively with a backup QB, but it's hard to imagine that the 49ers could be any more conservative in their play-calling as such a run-heavy team.