Mike Nolan refused to answer questions during his Monday press conference about whether the 49ers are to blame for the forearm issues that have sidelined quarterback Alex Smith. The Smith camp believes that the team overworked Smith's forearm in mid October as he attempted to come back from a shoulder separation. Smith was intent on returning for the 49ers' Oct. 21 game against the Giants but was set back when the forearm became so week that he had trouble gripping the football. The condition has not improved and the muscles in his right arm are noticeably smaller than those in the left arm.
"I respect your question," Nolan said when asked about how the forearm injury occurred. "I don't respect your source. It would be like me pretending to be your doctor."
The source that Nolan was referring to is Smith's agent, Tom Condon, who spoke to ESPN this weekend about Smith's condition. Smith will fly to Birmingham Ala. today and meet with noted orthopedist Dr. James Andrews Tuesday for a second opinion. The 49ers have called Smith's forearm issues a strain. Smith is seeking a more definitive diagnosis.
In other news from the press conference ...
* Nolan continued to defend his decision to go for a field goal on fourth and 10 that brought the 49ers within four points of the lead in yesterday's game, rather than try for a first down and a possible tie. "We've got a very exceptional and very unique on-side kick." The 49ers are 0-3 on their most recent on-side attempts.
* Nolan said he talked to John York after Sunday's loss. "He's been very supportive. He understands what's going on ..."
* Nolan said he thought this year's coaching staff is better than last year's, despite the fact that last year's had Norv Turner as offensive coordinator. When asked whether Turner's replacement, Jim Hostler, would be around next year, Nolan said: "I'm not going to say Jim's not (going to be back)."
* Nolan said he has not heard from Baylor University or Mike Singletary about the coaching vacancy at Baylor. Singletary is reportedly the frontrunner for the job.
-- Matt Barrows