Colin Kaepernick safe for now as 49ers' QB

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty ImagesRiding the hot hand: Niners coach Jim Harbaugh likes the way Colin Kaepernick handled himself in “tough circumstances” Sunday

Jim Harbaugh watched how Colin Kaepernick handled himself when things didn’t go right for the 49ers, and that told the coach plenty more about his second-year quarterback with all of three NFL starts to his name.

Enough that Harbaugh is sticking with Kaepernick under center — for now, anyway — as his team gears up for Sunday’s home game against the Miami Dolphins at Candlestick Park.

“Just a winning quarterback performance in tough circumstances,” Harbaugh said Monday. “In the evaluation, I thought Colin played well, did a lot of really good things, made some good decisions. … I thought some real positives to take away from his performance.”

Yet Alex Smith isn’t out of this mix yet, either. Another sub-par performance by Kaepernick could have Harbaugh going back to the 2005 No. 1 overall draft pick for the final December push toward the playoffs. The reigning NFL coach of the year is leaving every option open down the stretch.

A day after a 16-13 overtime loss at St. Louis, Harbaugh accepted the blame for the fourth-quarter pitch that was fumbled by Kaepernick and led to Janoris Jenkins’ 2-yard fumble return for a touchdown and ensuing 2-point conversion that tied the game. Harbaugh didn’t call the play, but relayed it through the headset to Kaepernick.

“Responsibility-taking starts with me on that option play that resulted in the nightmare scenario,” Harbaugh said. “Position of the game that where I should not let that play be called. So I take responsibility for that.”

At 8-3-1, the Niners are prepared for a challenge from the Seahawks (7-5) in the NFC West after Seattle won in overtime at Chicago on Sunday. The teams play at Seattle in the second-to-last game on Dec. 23.

Everybody around San Francisco is looking for a strong finish by a team that has set its sights on the Super Bowl.

After this week’s home game with Miami (5-7), San Francisco also must travel to New England in another daunting road task. The 49ers are certainly frustrated with the way their two games against the Rams wound up after a 24-24 tie on Nov. 11.

“We expect to execute,” left tackle Joe Staley said. “We didn’t execute. Late in the season we shouldn’t be having games like this.”

49ersJim HarbaughNFLSan Francisco 49erssports

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