Aldon Smith's high-flying defense gave Colin Kaepernick all kinds of extra chances in his first career NFL start.
And Kaepernick looked little like a backup in delivering on nearly every one of those opportunities under the lights on football's big stage.
The strong-armed Kaepernick passed for 243 yards and two touchdowns in place of the concussed Alex Smith, Aldon Smith had 5½ sacks, and the 49ers whipped the Chicago Bears 32-7 on Monday night in a highly anticipated NFC showdown that hardly lived up to the hype.
"I wanted to come out and show what I'm capable of and show that I can be a starter," Kaepernick said. "That's what I've been trying to prove since I've been here."
Kaepernick threw touchdown passes to Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree, and Kendall Hunter ran for a 14-yard score as San Francisco (7-2-1) jumped out to a big lead by scoring on each of its first four possessions.
After Kaepernick's stellar night on national TV, there's certain to be chatter of a quarterback controversy for the NFC West-leading Niners. And anyone who knows coach Jim Harbaugh knows he's all about competition at every spot on the field.
"I usually tend to go with the hot hand, and we've got two quarterbacks with hot hands," he said. "We'll make that decision when we have to make it."
Kaepernick certainly isn't counting on it.
"I don't think one game can be called a hot hand," he said.
Ravens' Reed has suspension overturned
Baltimore safety Ed Reed avoided a one-game suspension for late hits after an appeal. He instead will be fined $50,000.
Reed was suspended for one game without pay on Monday by NFL vice president of football operations Merton Hanks for his third violation in three seasons of the rule prohibiting helmet-to-helmet hits against defenseless players. The third violation occurred in Sunday night's game at Pittsburgh: Reed's hit to the head of receiver Emmanuel Sanders.
Reed appealed the ruling in phone session Tuesday morning with NFL hearing officer Ted Cottrell. The NFL Players Association represented Reed, who also participated.
Hours later, Cottrell reduced the penalty.
In a letter to Reed, Cottrell wrote: "I have determined that your actions were egregious and warrant significant discipline. However, I do not believe that your actions were so egregious as to subject you to a one-game suspension without pay."
Around the league
Steelers • Pittsburgh brought back veteran wide receiver Plaxico Burress on Tuesday to provide depth at a position decimated by injuries. He hasn't played since the end of the 2011 season as a member of the New York Jets, but the Steelers (6-4) are in need of healthy bodies at wide receiver after Jerricho Cotchery fractured his ribs late in Sunday night's 13-10 loss to Baltimore. Antonio Brown has missed the last two games due to an ankle injury. The 6-foot-5 Burress spent his first five seasons in the NFL with the Steelers. Also, coach Mike Tomlin said 37-year-old Charlie Batch will start at quarterback on Sunday in Cleveland. Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich are both out indefinitely with rib injuries.
Redskins • Linebacker London Fletcher did not practice Tuesday because of a sprained right ankle and has little time to recover before Thursday's Thanksgiving game against the Dallas. Fletcher, 37, has never missed a game in his 15-year NFL career and has appeared in 234 in a row, tying him with Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive back Ronde Barber for the longest active streak.
Raiders • Oakland waived linebacker Aaron Curry two weeks after activating him to the 53-man roster. Curry played two games after being activated from the physically unable to perform list. He committed two personal fouls in his first game and was only on the field for three defensive and five special teams snaps last week against New Orleans. Curry, the fourth overall pick by Seattle in 2009, was acquired in a midseason trade last year for a seventh-round pick in 2012 and a conditional fifth-rounder in 2013.
Week 12 schedule
Houston at Detroit, 10:30 a.m., Ch. 2
Washington at Dallas, 2:15 p.m., Ch. 13
New England at N.Y. Jets, 6:20 p.m., Ch. 5
Denver at Kansas City, 11 a.m., Ch. 2
Minnesota at Chicago, 11 a.m., Ch. 13
Oakland at Cincinnati, 11 a.m.
Pittsburgh at Cleveland, 11 a.m.
Buffalo at Indianapolis, 11 a.m.
Tennessee at Jacksonville, 11 a.m.
Atlanta at Tampa Bay, 11 a.m.
Seattle at Miami, 11 a.m.
Baltimore at San Diego, 2:05 p.m.
St. Louis at Arizona, 2:25 p.m.
San Francisco at New Orleans, 2:25 p.m., Ch. 13
Green Bay at N.Y. Giants, 6:20 p.m., Ch. 5
Carolina at Philadelphia, 6:30 p.m., ESPN