If you're wondering where the San Francisco 49ers get their swagger, look no further than their head coach.

What Jim Harbaugh pulled off two months ago in the privacy of his office ranks as a bigger risk than any fourth-and-1 gamble the NFC champions might dial up in Sunday's Super Bowl against the Baltimore Ravens.

Harbaugh's faith in his backup quarterback has been repaid in full as Colin Kaepernick approaches his 10th NFL start.

"I could stand here and say I knew it all the time, but that's not the case at all,'' said 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who conferred with Harbaugh before Kaepernick was tabbed as the starter only days after Alex Smith was cleared to return from a concussion.

A dejected Smith said he didn't do anything to lose his job, and the numbers bear him out.

In the eight quarters before he suffered a concussion against St. Louis, Smith had completed 32 of 35 passes for 385 yards and five touchdowns.

Not exactly a midseason malaise.

"I applaud Jim Harbaugh for making the decision when he did, because it wasn't an easy decision,'' Fox analyst Troy Aikman said. "The easy thing to do would have been to go back to Alex Smith, and it wouldn't necessarily have been the wrong decision because Alex was playing really good football.''

The 49ers were 6-2-1 under Smith, who led them to the NFC title game a year ago, but Harbaugh wanted more.

"Jim went all in … that's his nature,'' ESPN analyst Steve Young said.