The handwriting was on the wall when Trent Dilfer, not Alex Smith, was the No. 1 quarterback in team drills yesterday. For the last week and a half, Smith had circled the Wednesday practice on his calendar. If he was able to practice that day, he would play against the Giants. Well, he didn't. And he was watching from the periphery again today while Dilfer led practice. So afterward, Mike Nolan made the announcement - Dilfer will start against New York, a team he once beat in the Super Bowl.
Smith, of course, is disappointed. He made a Herculean effort to repair his injured right shoulder and Nolan said that he is healthy enough to be in uniform on Sunday. But Nolan said he sensed that Smith wasn't quite at full confidence regarding his shoulder. The coach couldn't quite put his finger on what is was that told him that. A coach just knows.
Said Smith: "There is a fine line for going out there and being competitive and trying to play. .... It's tough because I'm competitive and I think I can do it. But to not have practiced for a couple of weeks and go out there and not be 100 percent confident in your arm and what it can do - it probably wouldn't be the best thing for this team in the big picture."
-- Matt Barrows