49ers Undecided on Starting QB

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) - Coach Mike Singletary might wait until Thursday before deciding on a starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers' exhibition opener against Denver.

Shaun Hill or Alex Smith? Alex Smith or Shaun Hill? The two have been fairly even through the first 10 days of training camp, and both should get plenty of chances against the Broncos on Friday night.

"We'll talk about it prior to the game, figure it out," Singletary said Monday. "We're in no rush to do that."

Singletary plans to keep the competition and evaluation process going through the third preseason game Aug. 29 at Dallas, naming a starter soon after that game. No surprise, both QBs have said they expect to win the job.

Their performances in the exhibition games will factor into the decision.

"That's part of it. Hopefully, as we said before, by the third preseason game I think we'll have a pretty decent idea," Singletary said. "There's no guarantee we'll name someone then but hopefully at that time we will. I think the preseason games play a big role. We're going against somebody totally different. We just have to continue to see how they respond, how the team responds to them, how they respond to the pass rush, all those little things."

Hill went 5-3 last season after being named the starter midway through the year. Smith missed all the 2008 season after re-injuring his surgically repaired right shoulder in practice three days before the season opener. He was placed on injured reserve.

Smith completed 20 straight passes spanning two practices Saturday.

"Both quarterbacks have done a tremendous job," center Eric Heitmann said. "For us, we see completions. They both have a commanding presence in the huddle. That's another situation as an offensive unit where we have two guys back there who are great players. We'd be fortunate to have either one of them starting for us."

Friday's game also will mark a reunion between Singletary and the man he replaced last October, Mike Nolan. Nolan is Denver's new defensive coordinator and the two Mikes still keep in touch.

"The most important thing I learned from Coach Nolan is the work ethic," Singletary said. "I don't have to guess if there was any other team in the last 20 or 30 years that was in as bad of shape as this team was when Mike and I came here together. I saw Mike come in, roll up his sleeves and go to work trying to bring a structure to this organization and trying to bring about a mental toughness, trying to bring about character and all of those things. Mike will always be a great friend."


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