SANTA CLARA -- Jim Harbaugh hasn't revealed the 49ers' starting quarterback for Sunday, at least not publicly.
But he has made up his mind, according to a report Wednesday night. Jim Trotter of SI.com reported that Colin Kaepernick will start in New Orleans. Harbaugh reportedly told Kaepernick and Alex Smith on Wednesday and that the decision was not health-related.
Smith sustained a concussion Nov. 11 against the St. Louis Rams, and lingering symptoms kept him out of the Monday night game against the Chicago Bears. Kaepernick stepped in for his starting debut and led a 32-7 victory in stunning fashion.
A 49ers spokesman could not confirm the Sports Illustrated report.
ESPN's Trent Dilfer offered a different version of the 49ers' situation. Dilfer said he spoke with his former teammate, Smith, who stated he was told by Harbaugh that Kaepernick would get first-team snaps in practice and the starter role would be decided later. Trotter, in a tweet, stood by his report.
If Kaepernick starts, it appears he will have the full support of the eighth-year quarterback he would replace.
"Anytime the next guy steps up and plays well, it's good for the team. Let's not get this wrong," Smith said before the SI.com report surfaced. "Now, does it complicate things for me and Colin? I mean, yeah."
Harbaugh, in his noon news conference, offered no timeline on when he would announce which quarterback would start against the Saints.
"There's only one guy who can be under center. It's part of the deal," Smith added. "But this is a good thing for this team. This is a good problem. Those are decisions for Coach."
Although Smith expects to get medical clearance for a Sunday return, he also felt good a week ago before post-concussion symptoms resurfaced after he "tried to push it" all week in practice.
When Kaepernick met with reporters Wednesday afternoon, he said he hadn't been informed yet of who would start but that his relationship with Smith wouldn't be adversely affected.
"We've always been at each other's side. We've always supported each other," Kaepernick said. "So we're going to keep doing that."
With Smith sidelined, Kaepernick threw for 243 yards and two touchdowns to win his first career start.
"To me, it's the opposite of a controversy," Harbaugh said. "A controversy is an argument from opposing points of view. This is coming at it from a team aspect."
Smith wore a black, noncontact jersey in Wednesday's practice session, and he worked in the same capacity last week while unspecified symptoms lingered.
"It just wasn't right," Smith said of his condition. "And doctors didn't end up clearing me."
Smith's focus, he said, was on getting healthy rather than getting his job back from Kaepernick, with whom he has shared many discussions before, during and after Monday's breakout start.
"In my opinion, if you can't be happy for your teammate's success, you're playing the wrong sport. Go play tennis or golf or something," Smith said.
Upon reviewing film, Kaepernick said the "biggest thing" that struck him were his inability to complete more passes, specifically a deep throw to Vernon Davis and some sideline throws.
Immediately after the victory Monday, Harbaugh said he will ride the quarterback with the "hot hand," quickly adding that both Smith and Kaepernick have that quality.
"We feel great about it," Harbaugh said Wednesday. "This isn't one of those situations where you have the aging starting quarterback and everyone is clamoring for the young backup, or you have a struggling guy and they want the next guy, or the young guy is in there struggling and people are clamoring for the backup.
"It's a unique situation. We have two really good guys, two guys we believe in."
For Smith, uncertainty often has accompanied his job since the 49ers selected him first overall in 2005. He said he has been in "a few of these" situations but they're all different.
"It's not easy. It can be complicated," Smith said. "But it's a good problem for the 49ers, it's a good problem for us as a team. There's only one ball, though, and that's what makes it tough."
Kaepernick's first NFL appearance came in an exhibition-opening blowout loss at New Orleans last season, when he got sacked four times in relief of Smith.
"Bad memories," he said. "Hopefully we'll have a better performance."