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Troy Smith looking to entrench himself as starter for 49ers

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Troy Smith is approaching this week as if he will remain the San Francisco 49ers' starting quarterback for at least one more Sunday.

Smith hadn't received word Monday from coach Mike Singletary as the team returned from its bye week to get back to work heading into Sunday's home game against the St. Louis Rams. Singletary said last week Smith likely would get another shot.

"I prepare for the worst and hope for the best," said Smith, who rallied the 49ers past Denver in London on Oct. 31. "I would like to believe so, but the way that I deal with certain situations, especially something that's tender and special as this is, those who are patient, patience is a virtue.

"Good things come to those who are patient and people who wait," he said. "I've been in situations before speaking out prior to a decision being made and it did nothing but fire back on me. My lips are sealed. Studying, studying."

Injured regular starter Alex Smith is planning to win his job back once he is fully healthy.

He stayed in town last week to rehabilitate his separated, non-throwing left shoulder and said he has not been medically cleared to play. Smith has yet to throw a pass and said until he takes his first hit in a game, it will be tough to gauge how well he has healed. He was injured against Carolina on Oct. 24 and sat out the team's win over Denver.

Singletary has indicated it could be several weeks before Alex Smith is ready to play. While he was at team headquarters last week, Troy Smith headed home for some family time in Cleveland -- and he didn't do much physically in terms of football. Though he did receive a series of faxes from the team so he could study up on the game plan for the Rams.

"Got to keep rolling and make sure my ink cartridges are filled up and everything's cool," Troy Smith said.

In the 24-16 victory over the Broncos, he ran for a late touchdown and hit Michael Crabtree on a 28-yard score with 7:23 left. Frank Gore added another TD on a 3-yard run with 3:47 remaining.

Smith, the 2006 Heisman Trophy winner from Ohio State, was 12 for 19 for 196 yards after a slow start. Singletary praised him for sticking to the game plan and not trying to do too much, which has led to interceptions for Alex Smith this season.

"I try to stay even keel because you never want to put yourself in a situation where you get into an extreme high or an extreme low," Troy Smith said.

The 49ers (2-6), a popular choice to win the NFC West before the season, have won two of three following an 0-5 start.

"This team does have some momentum coming behind it, especially with Troy out there starting," linebacker Takeo Spikes said.

Still, Alex Smith is ready to regain his No. 1 spot -- and, he hopes, as soon as possible. The 2005 No. 1 overall draft pick out of Utah has completed 143 of 242 passes for 1,554 yards and nine touchdowns with nine interceptions and 13 sacks. His 75.0 quarterback rating is below average.

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He was examined by a doctor Monday and planned to increase his rehab to a new level this week and perhaps test the arm. Playing Sunday is out.

Smith hasn't brought up the topic of starting again with Singletary, but he expects to be the guy again.

"I've been focused on getting better and we'll deal with that when it comes," he said. "That's my expectation, that's my mindset. It's not my choice, though, it's not my decision. If it happens, I'll be ready, no question."

Notes: The 49ers released FB Jehuu Caulcrick and LB Eric Bakhtiari from the practice squad and signed RB DeShawn Wynn and WR Lance Long.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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