Though 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh continues to claim Smith has yet to lose his job and he's merely playing the hot hand, Kaepernick is now making his third straight start and second since Smith was cleared to return after suffering a concussion against the Rams. Smith, one of the league's top performing quarterbacks this season before he went down, will continue to watch from the sidelines while teams lacking talent at the quarterback, like division rivals the Arizona Cardinals, look on with great jealousy.
Statistically Kaepernick has given the 49ers enough offensive punch to win and is 2-0 in his first two NFL starts. Last week he went 16-25 against the Saints in New Orleans and helped his team to a 31-21 win. He may need to continue to play mistake and loss-free to remain in the starting lineup, a huge burden to carry that no other quarterback in the league currently faces.
Last week the Rams disposed of the floundering Cardinals 31-17 on the road to snap a five-game winless streak and temporarily right what was a sinking ship. They are still two games under .500 and will need to win out for a chance at a playoff berth. Unlike Kaepernick's former two opponents, the Rams have seen him in person already and know what to expect and how to defend against him.
The Rams can keep Kaepernick, Frank Gore and the rest of the 49ers offense off the field if Steven Jackson continues to rush the ball with authority. He put up 101 yards against the 49ers in either earlier draw, and racked up a season-high 139 yards against the Cardinals last week. He will need to crack the NFL's fourth-highest rated defense against the run to surpass 100 yards again and give his team a legitimate shot at winning.
Today's featured early Sunday NFL Football game between the San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams kicks off at 1pm EST / 10am PST in high definition on Fox via cable/satellite or free over the air. Though not free, you can watch the official online live streaming version via NFL Sunday Ticket here. My prediction is the 49ers continue their dominating ways and walk out of St. Louis with a comfortable 27-16 win.