SANTA CLARA (AP) — The San Francisco 49ers are going back to Troy Smith as their starting quarterback while leaving open the possibility they might switch to Alex Smith at any time.
Coach Mike Singletary said Thursday that Troy Smith will start Sunday’s pivotal NFC West game against the St. Louis Rams in place of Alex Smith, who started San Francisco’s last two games.
The coach also said he wouldn’t hesitate to change quarterbacks during the game if the situation calls for it.
“We could possibly use them both,” Singletary said. “The game will dictate it. Even though Troy is going to be the starter, we’re making sure that the game plan is such that we can possibly use both their strengths in this game.”
The 49ers have now changed quarterbacks after each of their last two defeats in an attempt to salvage a losing season. At 5-9, San Francisco still has an opportunity to capture the NFC West title and end a seven-year playoff drought by winning its final two games against St. Louis and Arizona.
Troy Smith, who didn’t join the 49ers until Sept. 6, has remained focused throughout the week on his second chance as San Francisco’s starter. Troy Smith went 3-2 in his five games as a starter earlier this season after taking over for Alex Smith in late October. Troy Smith had a career-high 356 yards passing to lead the 49ers to a 23-20 overtime victory against St. Louis on Nov. 14.
“This is huge for me,” Troy Smith said. “For any player to be able to play in a game of this magnitude, be a part of something special, it’s going to be pretty big for all of us. The knick-knacks and the other little things that are going on around us, we’re definitely channeling that out and worrying about winning this game.”
The 49ers went back to Alex Smith two weeks ago after Troy Smith completed just 10 of 25 passes during a 34-16 loss at Green Bay. Alex Smith had statistically the best game of his career the next week during a 40-21 victory over Seattle, but he and the San Francisco offense could muster only 192 total yards during last week’s 34-7 loss at San Diego.
Alex Smith began this season 1-6 as San Francisco’s starter before separating his left shoulder during a Week 7 loss at Carolina. Selected by the 49ers with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2005 NFL draft, Alex Smith is 18-31 as the team’s starter.
The 49ers have become accustomed this season to change within their offensive unit.
“We’ve been through everything you can go through as an offense really,” wide receiver Michael Crabtree said. “It’s difficult, but you just have to take what they give you and keep going. I’m just trying to stay positive about the whole situation and be ready to play this game Sunday.”
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