The San Francisco 49ers conducted their practice today (reminder that it's eight hours later in London) and in the post-practice media session, head coach Mike Singletary announced that Troy Smith will be the starting quarterback this Sunday when the 49ers face the Denver Broncos. Additionally, Singletary indicated the team would not go with a emergency third QB, which means Nate Davis will not be elevated from the practice squad at this time. And finally, Alex Smith will miss approximately two to three weeks with a shoulder sprain (Singletary and Smith transcripts after the jump). Thanks to Ninjames for including a mention of this in the Nuggets and tanghmilton for posting a FanPost on the topic.
This is certainly a lot to digest as a season filled with a crazy amount of twists and turns has taken one more turn. Let's cut to the chase in regards to Troy Smith. I know there are some folks that won't be crazy about this decision thinking that either Smith isn't good enough or that the team shouldn't cut bait on Carr this quickly. My thought is this: While the team does appear to be moving past Carr rather quickly, I would argue given his long history in the NFL there really isn't much upside with him. He's been beaten down so badly in this league that I don't think he'll ever be more than a backup. I realize I am one of the many people who gave Alex Smith chance after chance. I just view Carr as a QB who peaked in 2004 with Houston and never really got back to that point.
So why is Smith a better option? Well, simply put, he has upside. It's entirely possible that Troy Smith will never make it as a starting QB in the NFL. However, he has some of the necessary tools to at least be worth a shot. Here's his scouting report from ESPN.com:
He is a short, compact-built player with a strong enough arm to make all the throws. Smith is very tough competitive player and an exceptional athlete. He has enough talent and physical tools to potentially contribute as a return man or at another skill position. As a passer, his lack of ideal height is a major concern and he is best throwing on the roll-out. Smith is an ideal backup signal-caller because of his innate leadership and playmaking abilities but hasn't been able to get on the field to contribute thus far.
Additionally, here's a few thoughts from FFToolbox from his draft year:
An outstanding athlete, Smith also beat all the combine quarterbacks in both the vertical jump and the broad jump. Smith's arm is also one of his great strengths-literally. It is both strong and very accurate, as he proved both throughout his senior season and at OSU's pro day.
Smith attempted thirteen passes the last two years and 89 for his career. Additionally, Maiocco tweeted that his week of practice will actually be his first time practicing 49ers plays. I'd suspect that even with his studying of the playbook it might be pared down a little bit to simplify things on the field on Sunday.
One interesting note is that we'll get to see the re-pairing of Smith with his former Ohio State running mate, WR Ted Ginn Jr. Ginn struggles hauling in passes, but maybe they can rekindle some of their OSU chemistry. That might be asking a bit much, but it's just one more storyline to keep an eye on this Sunday. If nothing else, the 49ers got a little bit more interesting. David Carr can obviously throw a football better than many of us ever will, but at this point in the season, I just don't see the upside there. This has nothing to do with his two quarters of playing time. I think Smith just provides some kind of upside the 49ers don't have with Carr.
Head Coach Mike Singletary
Press Conference - October 27, 2010
San Francisco 49ers
Listen to Audio I Media Center
"As far as injuries are concerned, I'll get right into that. [QB] Alex Smith, shoulder sprain, looking at two to three weeks. [CB] Tarell Brown, back sprain, doubtful. [G] Chilo [Rachal], stinger, day-to-day. [RB Anthony] Dixon, hamstring strain, day-to-day. Staley, stinger, day-to-day. Taylor Mays, stinger, day-to-day. [C Eric] Heitmann and Alex Smith right now are the only ones out for the game. Everybody else, day-to-day. In terms of the quarterback situation, I will get to that now. The starting quarterback this week will be Troy Smith. I've talked to David Carr about it and he understands. We had a couple of conversations about it. That's a personal thing between he and I and I'm going to leave it there. Troy Smith is our starting quarterback this week."
On Troy Smith:
"I think the bottom line is, I think for where we are, I think Troy Smith gives us a good opportunity to win the game."
On whether Troy Smith knows enough of the offense:
"He's been studying since he's been here and getting with the coaches as much as he possibly could. He has enough of the offense to play."
On whether he will make a move with QB Nate Davis:
"Right now, just wanted to make that move this week. Nate Davis is something that we'll look at later."
On whether Troy Smith gives another threat with his running ability:
"Right now, I just think Troy Smith was a situation that overall, I just felt he gave us the best chance of winning the game. As far as all of the other intangibles or what have you, just felt it was better to go with him right now."
On what it is about Troy Smith that he likes and gives:
"I would say that probably the number one thing I like about him, and it's a current theme with anyone that I talk to, whether it's here, whether it's Baltimore, whether it's Ohio State, whether it's former teammates, and that is leadership. That is his ability to get everybody on the same page."
On what he didn't see from David Carr and whether it is to see if Troy Smith can do any better:
"I just think right now, as I look at where we are as a football team, as I look at our offense, I just feel that Troy Smith was a good choice for us right now overall."
On whether it helps Troy Smith to play at a neutral venue in London and not as much pressure from fans:
"From my perspective, it doesn't really matter. I don't really think about it one way or the other. For the quarterback, whether it's a backup quarterback or whatever, I just think for us, making the decision that we made to go with Troy Smith, we would have done the same thing if we were in San Francisco."
On whether Alex Smith has a grade two separation:
"Don't know. All I know is it's a separation and it's going to be two to three weeks, that's all I know."
On whether there are any other lineup changes for the upcoming game:
"Not at this time, no."
On Chilo Rachal's injury and whether it is more than a stinger:
"Don't really know, just have to continue to look at it and monitor it. If it continues to be a reoccurring thing, maybe get it checked out a little further. But as of right now, stinger is the prognosis."
On Alex Smith's shoulder history and whether to be cautious with bringing him back:
"On that note, I'm just going to listen to the trainers and the doctors and let them kind of dictate that."
On whether he is planning on having an emergency quarterback on Sunday other than David Carr:
On how the players have adjusted to the time and everything else coming out early to London:
"I think the players have adjusted fine. I think the biggest thing is coming out early. I think it was a good decision. I think it's something that will serve them well. The first couple of days I'm sure was a bit of a struggle for them getting acclimated, but I think in the end it will prove wise."
On whether the coaching staff was able to conduct a normal Tuesday here as they would in Santa Clara:
"Yes, the accommodations have been great."
On whether the coaches have done any sightseeing:
"We have been in the building working on the game plan getting ready for Denver, that's it."
On whether he let the players out:
"Oh yeah, have to let them out, yes."
On whether the arrival of the Denver game film was late:
"It came a little later than normal, but nothing that caused a problem."
On whether he sticks with the same lineup on the offensive line if they are all healthy:
On whether there will be any changes on who would be available for backup:
"Not at this time."
On whether there are any other lineup changes:
On whether the team is preparing for a home game as if they were playing in San Francisco:
"I just think that we're just excited to play a football game on Sunday. Whether it's in San Francisco or here, you can say home and hopefully it feels like home, but it will be at Wembley."
On how nice is it to be away from all the pressures of back home and whether it is nice to get away and relax a little bit:
"I think when you look at where we are right now as a team, it is nice to be able to get away, come here and be able to sort of regroup as a team internally. As a staff and as a team we spend a lot more time together to really get prepared for this game and then have the bye after that, and then looking to regroup for the next half of the season."
On whether this situation being here in London supports that mentality of a team and family atmosphere more so than a regular home game:
"Very much so. Yes the players are here and they can go and do some things or whatever, but many of them choose to stay here and just kind of walk around the facility and get to know each other and talk about things and really take the time to do some things that you really wouldn't get to do if you were at home or really wouldn't have the time to do. That's coaches and players."
On when you watch the tape of the Raiders vs. Broncos, can you take some things away from that game or is it more of a case of you can't believe what happened:
"You almost have to just throw it out. It's an amazing game, I don't think I have ever seen anything like that, you've got to be kidding me. Absolutely amazing, everything just fell their way, not that they didn't force some of those things, I mean the Raiders really got after them, but the bottom line is I don't think I've ever seen a game like that where so many things fell for the other team and not the other one."
On whether that game makes you feel better and think, well it could be worse:
On what were the guidelines as far as family members coming over and staying at the team hotel:
"Basically, if you're married - if you are at home, you'd be with your family. So if you're married, your wife can come, and if you have a kid, they can come too. I don't think taking the players away from their homes as well as their families and then bringing them across the world and tell them, ‘you can't stay with their family,' that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. So I think we try to keep some things as consistent as can be."
On whether you know how many players brought their families over:
"That I don't know, but I do know a lot of them did."
On whether it is your dream to get the team back to the days of WR Jerry Rice and QB Joe Montana in terms of success:
"The one thing I don't do is spend much time thinking about what was. I spend a lot of time thinking about the possibilities ahead of us. I talked to the team this morning and one of the things that I told them, and that I will tell you, is this is our finest hour as a team, and as a staff. When things are going very well, it's very easy to be a great coach, very easy to be a great player, but when things are not going the way you want them to go, it's tougher, and not only that, but its giving us an opportunity to really look at where we are, and be able to understand it for what it is. It's also important that as a team, you know some teams may not be playing very well. Some teams may not have a very good record right now, and for whatever reason there's not a lot that they can do about it. We can, and when you lose close games, on one end of it, it looks like wow, you know, what's the reason that you can't win the close ones, but there are always two sides to every coin. There's a reason why you're close, and we just have to get to that point to where we win those."
On why LB NaVorro Bowman has been in the game more over LB Takeo Spikes in certain situations:
"I think it's so much easier after a particular point to ask that kind of a question, not that it's a bad question, but it's an easy question to ask. You know, ‘why don't you have that guy in?' At the same time, you have guys that are talented and you want to get them on the field. Obviously, we as a coaching staff feel he has prepared for those situations, and we have several rookies that are playing, whether they are on the offensive line, defensive backfield, and linebackers, whatever it might be and as a staff you know going into it that there are some things that you are going to have to absorb. I still have the thought process in my mind of Takeo Spikes. Takeo is playing well, doing a good job, but at the same time we want to have Takeo for the entire season, and hopefully into the playoffs, so we have to do everything that we can to make sure that we protect him, just like we have to do a better job of protecting [RB] Frank Gore. So that's why."
On speaking with Spikes in regards to keeping him fresh:
"A lot of it. A lot of that, I think talking about that in the off season and early part of this season, and really making a decision after the Kansas City game to sit him down and say, ‘you know what, we want to have you for the duration of the season, we want to have you fresh.' The same thing we do during the game we do during practice, and at first Takeo really wasn't excited about it, but when he looks at the film and sees himself play he really appreciates it."
On how limited he thinks the offensive playbook will be for QB Troy Smith with the short time he has had to learn the team:
"I don't know, I think we'll know more after today's practice, and tomorrow. It's one thing when you are sitting down and you are looking at different plays or whatever. You say, ‘sure I got it,' and then you go out on the field and you have to do it fast, and you have to do it under pressure, and maybe you forget to make a call here or there. As a staff you have to look at that and that's why we practice, to kind of figure that out. We'll go from there, but I do know that however limited it'll be, it will be a situation that we put him in the best situation to win."
On whether Troy Smith has ever taken first team reps as a 49er:
QB Troy Smith
October 27, 2010
San Francisco 49ers
Listen to Audio I Media Center
On the easiest way to get through to his teammates:
"I think the easiest way to get through to your teammates if you're serious about what's going on is to know exactly what your job is, know exactly what everybody expects of you, and go out and execute."
On whether it is hard to be a leader on the team since he hasn't been around very long:
"I wouldn't say it's harder, but at the same time you've got to respect your boundaries. I believe in that totally. I believe in not stepping on anybody's toes. I believe in fitting in and getting in where you fit in, knowing and learning your niche and then making the best out of it. As far as you being a man, you learn how to reason with the guys and go along with the flow."
On his relationship with the guys on the team:
"With any great team, it's more than just lip service, you've got to do a little something. I totally understand what that's all about. I think we've got a tremendous group of guys around us and we can do nothing but get better."
On getting up to speed on the offense:
"I wouldn't say that it's a crash course. Throughout my career, this is what I've done, learned new offenses. They do a tremendous job here of getting guys in position to make plays, now I just have to go out and execute the offense."
On whether he was surprised by the move:
"No, I can't say that I am because the way that you prepare as a professional athlete, you have to be prepared when your number's called, and that's exactly what I'm going to do."
On whether he feels the playbook will be different for him because of his mobility:
"I wouldn't say that. [Offensive coordinator] Coach Mike Johnson, [quarterbacks coach] Jason Michael, everybody within the offensive staff does an incredible job with getting the game plans and stuff ready for whomever's going to be the quarterback. We're going to throw the ball, I know that."
On his relationship with WR Ted Ginn and if they retained that from their time at Ohio State:
"There's no doubt about it. The thing about it is, it's not just my brother Ted Ginn, it's about the other receiver that's going to be out there also. We've got tremendous playmakers everywhere and it's my job and my duty to get everybody the ball."
On whether the terminology of the Ravens playbook is similar to the 49ers:
"Well, as soon as I became a 49er, everything about the Ravens is out the door. This team here is a special unit and I definitely have to immerse myself in any and everything that's going on here. So, I've been learning the 49ers playbook to become a 49er."
On whether the digit system remains the same:
"I wouldn't say that. Some of the things are different, and along the lines of being a quarterback, all of that stuff is fine tuning and knowing exactly what you're job is. I've got to pay attention to what's going on here."
On whether playing in front of a big crowd brings you back to your college days and your thoughts on that:
"I wouldn't say that it will bring me back to my college days, but it will bring up some great times back in the day. Hopefully everybody is going to be adjusted to the time zone and getting over here and making things happen, but a big crowd, there will be nothing wrong with that."
On whether you see this as a chance to take over the starting QB job permanently:
"Well, I'm not thinking about that. We came over here, one job, one mindset, and that's getting out of here with a win. Anything else is not in my thought process."
On whether you get a lot of encouragement from your teammates:
"Oh without a doubt, and that's why I say we have a special group here. I haven't even been here that long and everybody has received me pretty well. I'm talking about the quarterbacks to everybody on the defensive side of the ball, so it's been a fun time."
On whether it helps to play at a neutral venue rather than a true home game where there is more pressure from the fans:
"I believe it could, but I don't think about it that way. Football is football, and anyway you cut it up, it's going to be 11 guys on offense, 11 guys on defense and you have to keep it that way."
On when you first heard that you would be starting:
"I have been studying so much all I know was it was a couple days ago."
On Monday then was when you knew:
"You know everything is the exact opposite here, so I'm still trying to get used to being on the left side of the street, so everything's good."
On how much of Denver's defense have you seen so far and what do you take from it:
"Oh a tremendous amount. Very very athletic. Any team in the NFL can lineup and beat you on Sunday, so we are preparing the same way. You know not taking anything for granted that they are doing and looking at the ins and outs of everything that they have going on."
On what you can take away from your games that you started in Baltimore:
"You are trying to get me back in Baltimore stuff and I am trying to stay a 49er. You know throughout the course of the week, your preparation, I think, is what makes you comfortable with all the things you have going on. You know I continue to prepare like a mad man to get ready for this game because this team is that important to me as a teammate."
On whether this week is more about the mental side rather than the physical side and how you are able to balance the two:
"Well obviously my coaching staff has done an incredible job with putting together the game plan and the regiment throughout the course of the week, so it's all solely on them. I'm going to buy into what they have going on for me and we'll move on."
On whether you had a lot of say on putting together the game plan:
"Well with it going into my 4th year, I'm still a young guy, so to speak, so my main thing is being humble. You know having it and maintaining humility. I think that the coaches do an extremely good job with studying film and getting the game plan together, so anything that they're putting together, I'm going to do nothing but try to execute."