Alex Smith put the best possible face on an ugly situation -- for him - during a group media session before the 49ers' practice. As expected, Smith was asked how he feels about not starting Thursday against Chicago and whether he's thought about starting the season on the bench. "I'm not thinking about that now," Smith said. "When the time comes, I'll deal with it. It's (sitting) is part of the game, too." Asked whether he still considers himself in the running for the starting job," Smith said, "They haven't said otherwise, so absolutely," he replied. Is that realistic? No. But what else can he say at this point?
J.T. O'Sullivan isn't presuming anything, either. "I'm just worried about this week," he said. "I'm really just trying to worry about the preparation for the game this week. It's a short week. We're kind of crunched for time and we're just trying to get ready for Chicago," O'Sullivan said. These answers, of course, aren't all that revealing and one sideline observer - ok, it was Maiocco - noted today it was as if we're in "Groundhog Day." But don't think that Nolan isn't interested in what his quarterbacks have to say. This lengthy competition is designed to see how his quarterbacks play on the field, sure, but also how they react to outside pressure. Declaring O'Sullivan the Day 1 starter certainly would relieve some of the tension surrounding the team right now. Nolan, however, is interested to see how players react when the tension level is high.
As was the case yesterday, Nolan won't speak to the media until the afternoon practice is completed at 3:45 p.m.
Back-up kickers don't usually get a lot of attention and they almost never get any locker room applause. But Ricky Schmitt got both after the team went over the film from Saturday's Green Bay game, particularly the play in which Schmitt blasted return man Jordy Nelson 10 yards out of bounds.
What did special teams coach Al Everest say?
"He was joking around, saying I was on steroids," Schmitt said.
Are you on steroids?
"Look at me..."
Conclusion: Schmitt is not on steroids.
-- Matt Barrows