Posted at 3:12 a.m., Friday, December 7, 2007
NFL: 49ers' Smith throwing but might not play in '07
Associated PressSANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Alex Smith increased his throwing activity yesterday but it's still uncertain when or if the third-year quarterback will play again this season with the San Francisco 49ers.
Smith plans to throw again today for the third consecutive day after a two-week layoff to rest his injured throwing shoulder and forearm. He'll then be examined and re-evaluated by team doctors before his next course of action is determined.
"Right now, we're just trying to get the shoulder right, get my arm right and then from there make that decision," Smith said yesterday. "We picked it up a little bit today, and I'll throw a little bit tomorrow and then continue to talk with doctors and devise a plan."
Smith suffered a Grade 3 separation of his right shoulder Sept. 30 and then developed a problem with his right forearm after returning to action in late October.
After conferring with orthopedic specialist Dr. James Andrews in mid-November, Smith and the 49ers decided rest was necessary. Smith hadn't thrown a football since Nov. 18 before he made a handful of light throws at the beginning of Wednesday's practice.
In light rain yesterday, Smith threw early in practice during individual sessions and also threw some short routes to running backs. He didn't attempt any throws down the field and was held out once the 49ers went to group and team drills.
After Smith experienced constant pain following his return in October, which adversely affected his play in three consecutive poor performances, the 49ers aren't about to rush him onto the field with four games remaining in the season. Smith might not play again this year, and surgery is a consideration if his shoulder has not sufficiently healed.
Smith's injuries were reassessed at the beginning of this week with team doctors giving him the green light to begin throwing gradually to test his arm and shoulder.
"They're just going to start him slow and then progressively feel him out every day and see how he's doing and see where it goes from there," 49ers coach Mike Nolan said.
Backup Trent Dilfer will make his fourth consecutive start at quarterback for the 49ers on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. Dilfer has started five games in place of Smith this season and played all but three plays of another after Smith was injured on the opening series of San Francisco's September game against Seattle.
Nolan recently said Dilfer, during his two starts in November, played two of the best games he has seen by a San Francisco quarterback since he took over as the team's coach in 2005.
Though Smith says he still would like to play this season, the 49ers seem more inclined to go with Dilfer the rest of the year as the days pass and Smith's status remains unresolved.
"All the talk about his shoulder and this and that, it's really difficult to commit to anything past today when you really don't know what it is," Nolan said. "Right now, as a healthy quarterback and what Trent gives us, without question he gives us our best chance to win. As was evident when Alex was not healthy, he did not."