A week ago, the 49ers had two quarterbacks on even footing for the starting job. Today both of them are nursing injuries. Recently minted starter Shaun Hill took one pass today in team drills then gave way to back-ups Damon Huard and Nate Davis for the rest of practice. Mike Singletary said Hill strained his lower back while pushing himself in practice Tuesday. Alex Smith already has been ruled out with a sprained thumb suffered while making a tackle in Saturday's preseason win over Oakland. He has not practiced this week and has been ruled out for Saturday's game against the Cowboys.
Jogging off the field after practice, Hill gave a thumb's up signal and said, "I'll be fine." Asked if he'd play Saturday, he said "definitely." Singletary, however, called his situation day to day. "I'm assuming he's going to play, but I don't know that," Singletary said. The third preseason game is generally considered the most important, and the 49ers ended their months-long quarterback competition this week with that in mind. If Hill can't play, either Huard or Davis, a fifth-round draft pick, would start. Singletary said he has not which back-up would play under that scenario.
Hill missed a start at the end of the 2007 season when he suffered three fractures to the transverse processes, which are part of the vertebrae, in his lower back during a win over Tampa Bay. Chris Weinke had to start the final game in Cleveland that season.
The 49ers have attempted fewer passes (45) than any other team this preseason, and Smith and Hill have split the first-team snaps through two games. Hill said he has spoken with Singletary about the need to work on timing with his receivers. Still, Singletary said he wasn't worried about the situation. "We're going to go to Dallas and we're going to play football," he said. "I'm not going to worry about who's not ready to go and who's hurt and all those things. No. We're going to go, and we should execute just fine."
Hill took one pass -- which was nearly intercepted by Manny Lawson -- at the beginning of team drills, then watched the rest of practice. Singletary said he had "no idea" how the injury happened. "It showed up yesterday," he said. "(Hill) pushed himself in practice, got some treatment yesterday. Today it was still there. He probably could have pushed himself (today). I told him, you don't need to do that. Let the other guys get the reps."
-- Matt Barrows