Smith gets his big chance

Smith gets his big chance


Coach Mike Singletary said he’s closer to a decision at quarterback, which is good news because the 49ers open the regular season in three weeks. Don’t read anything into it, but Alex Smith will get the start Saturday night against the Raiders.

He’s just keeping it fair, Singletary said, as the order will be reversed from the first exhibition game. Shaun Hill started the first game, and Smith also played with the first-team offense. This time, Smith will start, and Hill will see action with the ones.


Regardless of how the competition turns outs, Smith said he feels like he’s in much better position, as far as knowledge of the 49ers’ offense, than he has ever been at this stage of the year. And that’s been apparent on the practice field this summer. He has generally played very well.


But Hill is also performing well. Singletary has said that Hill is less of a mystery. Smith will have to play with poise and consistency in the exhibition games — to remove all doubt that might still exist in Singletary’s mind — if he is going to leapfrog Hill for the starting job Sept. 13 against the Cardinals.


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Patrick Willis, who has not worked any 11-on-11 drills since sustaining an ankle/Achilles’ injury during an Aug. 3 nutcracker drill, will not play in tomorrow’s game. Look for him to be back to full work next week. Parys Haralson (foot) has also been ruled out. Newcomer Eric Green, a cornerback the 49ers signed on the same day the Dolphins released him, will not suit up. Cornerback Tarell Brown is also not expected to play.


However, Frank Gore and Isaac Bruce are likely to see one series of action. Both were held out of the 49ers’ exhibition opener last week against the Broncos. Safety Michael Lewis, who sustained a concussion this week in Napa, will be a game-time decision, Singletary said.


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The Michael Crabtree contract stalemate continues. The sides have agreed on one thing, however: They’ve agreed to disagree. (I know I’ve used that line before, but I can’t come up with anything new to say.)


There does not appear to be any progress. Now that the picks ahead and behind Crabtree have signed, the 49ers believe the market has been set for Crabtree, the No. 10 selection. But Crabtree’s side is looking for a slot-busting contract similar to what the Raiders paid the No. 7 selection, Darrius Heyward-Bey.


When I asked if it becomes unlikely at this stage that Crabtree can make much of a contribution as a rookie, Singletary said he has not thought much about Crabtree’s situation.


This is Day 25 of the impasse, tying him with Ted Kwalick for the second-longest rookie stalemate in club history. Jimmy Webb, a defensive tackle selected in 1975, sat out the first 43 days of camp.


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Green, who played his first four seasons with the Cardinals, said it did not take him long to realize he had made a mistake when spurned the 49ers to sign with the Dolphins in March. Well, Green was released by the Dolphins on Wednesday, and the 49ers were on the phone within an hour to hammer out the details on a one-year contract.


Green will compete for a 49ers roster spot. He said he was not happy with the Dolphins, and did not have much enthusiasm for the game.  But now he said coming to the 49ers is like a rebirth.


“The switch is on. I’m on fire,” Green said.


He said he can be a service to the 49ers because of his knowledge of the NFC West. “I’ve been in the division four years. I know the tendencies (of the receivers). I’ve practiced against two of hte best (Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin) every day for four years, so that has to help a little.”


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