Tag. Troy Smith is it.
According to the NFL Network’s Jason LaCanfora, Smith will be reassume the job as the 49ers starting quarterback two weeks after he was benched in favor of Alex Smith. Niners coach Mike Singletary, not scheduled to meet with the media today, declined comment on LaCanfora’s report through a team spokesman.
If Troy Smith does start Sunday against St. Louis, it will mark the third time the Niners have played hot potato with their starting quarterbacks since mid-November.
Troy Smith threw for 356 yards and led a fourth-quarter comeback against St. Louis in a 23-20 overtime win on Nov. 14. The next day, with Alex Smith medically cleared to play, Singletary officially named Troy Smith the starter.
After three less-than-inspiring starts, however, Troy Smith was benched and Alex Smith has started the past two games, compiling a 66.0 quarterback rating in a 34-7 loss at San Diego last week.
LaCanfora’s tweet heard ’round Santa Clara was delivered just as Niners offensive coordinator Mike Johnson was concluding a bizarre meeting with the media.
On Tuesday, Singletary said he knew who would start at quarterback — he’d even told his quarterbacks — but wasn’t telling the media until later in the week.
Today, Johnson — remember, he’s the offensive coordinator presumably putting together a game plan for a must-win game — insisted that he still didn’t know who would be the starter. At one point he said, referring to Singletary, “I’m sure he’ll let me know.”
“We have not finalized that yet so we’re still trying to figure that out,” Johnson said. “We’re practicing both guys, and that decision will be made later.”
Really? Johnson was asked why he didn’t know who would start when the head coach did.
“Well, I’ve been told to practice both guys and make sure that both guys get reps,” he said. “And then that decision as to how we’re going to use those guys will be done later.”
Huh? Evidently the Niners haven’t cleared up those season-opening communication issues and, if LaCanfora’s report is accurate, they’ve yet to exterminate the information-leaking rat.
But the fact the Singletary and Johnson aren’t comparing press-conference notes, while puzzling, figures to have little impact on Sunday’s game.
Troy Smith has beaten the Niners last two opponents — St. Louis and Arizona — and San Francisco’s quarterbacks have had success in their first starts off the bench.
In his first start of the season, Troy Smith completed 12 of 19 passes for 196 yards with one touchdown (115.2 rating) while leading a fourth-quarter rally in a 24-16 win against the Broncos in London. Alex Smith, in his first action since Oct. 24, replaced Troy Smith and matched a career-high with three touchdowns and had a career-high 130.9 rating in a 40-21 win against Seattle on Dec. 12.