49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

November 14, 2007
Trouble in 49erland

Asked yesterday about Alex Smith's health, Mike Nolan said what he's been saying for the last three weeks. "He's fine," Nolan said. Today, however, Smith said he was definitely not fine, revealing for the first time not only lingering problems with his right shoulder and forearm but a disconnect with the coaching staff as well.

Smith will sit out practice today to rest his forearm, which has been sore since the 49ers' bye week. Smith said he probably rushed back too fast from the shoulder injury and put too much pressure on the forearm, which had been in a sling for several days after the shoulder separation. Nolan said he expected Smith to practice tomorrow and to play Sunday against the Rams. Smith's take was a little different. He said he'll make some throws tomorrow and "see how it feels."

The bigger issue continues to be the shoulder itself. Smith said he is still dealing with pain and that the injury certainly has affected his throwing motion. It's also affected his mechanics, which, as many observers have noted, has been off kilter in recent weeks.

"I felt I was making progress," Smith said. "But definitely Monday night I did not feel good as far as throwing the ball. It was not comfortable at all."

And an even bigger issue than that is a sense from Smith that perhaps he rushed -- or was rushed -- back too soon following his Sept. 30 separation. Smith had four weeks off before returning for the Saints game on Oct. 28 and has not looked good since.

"It's really been hard because to continue to have it get reported that you're 100 percent, and that's not really the case," Smith said. "That's been frustrating as well."

Asked whether it would be better for him, and for the 49ers, if he sat out several weeks to give his arm and shoulder time to rest, Smith said it was hard to say.

"I continue to want to be here for this team," he said. " I think there's nothing worse than when things get tough (and you) bow out. I want to continue to be a part of this and get this turned around. So who knows."

We spoke to Smith minutes after speaking with Nolan, who was asked if he could commit to Smith being the long-term starter with the team. He said there's a possibility that every player on the team could be gone next year, including the quarterback. He also said he didn't feel bound to Smith even though Smith was his first-ever draft pick, going No. 1 overall in 2005.

"My responsibility to the organization is winning games," Nolan said.

Other notes:

Nolan said that he's spoken with John and Jed York in recent weeks. "They've been very supportive and it's (job security) not been a concern of mine," Nolan said.

Nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin will be out four weeks with a calf strain. Isaac Sopoaga will take his place in the lineup with Ron Fields also filling in. Atiyyah Ellison - inactive the first nine weeks - will get a long look in practice, Nolan said, but that Ray McDonald will probably be active Sunday instead.

The funeral for Dick Nolan will be held Saturday.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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