Saturday, March 8, 2014
By HOWARD ULMAN The Associated Press
(Continued from page 1)
WHO: San Francisco 49ers (9-3-1) at Patriots (10-3)
WHEN: 8:20 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Gillette Stadium
Now, San Francisco Coach Jim Harbaugh has chosen Kaepernick over Smith to lead the offense down the stretch. At 9-3-1, a win Sunday would clinch the NFC West title if the Seattle Seahawks lose. The 49ers would still clinch a playoff spot if both win.
"I really don't want to compare it to any other situation, but I think it was a unique situation here," Harbaugh said of the quarterback changes. "Two guys that we believe in, believe can win games for us, and picking one. It's who do you think can give us the best chance for this game?"
Smith and Bledsoe were upset to lose their jobs after being hurt.
"I want to play as bad as I ever wanted anything," Bledsoe said at the time. "I mean, it's the Super Bowl. It's what you play for."
But Brady had gone 13-3 in his starts, so he got the call and the Patriots won the championship. Now Kaepernick is 3-1 as a starter. And that's what counts, not the feelings of the quarterbacks.
So the considerations in deciding who should play -- the recovered veteran or the promising second-year pro -- are simple.
"To win. There are no other considerations," Belichick said.
THE PATRIOTS re-signed Deion Branch for their battered corps of wide receivers.
They signed him for the second time this season after Donte' Stallworth joined Julian Edelman on injured reserve. Stallworth hurt his ankle in Monday night's 42-14 win over the Houston Texans. Edelman suffered a foot injury in the previous game.