Troy Smith will remain 49ers' starting QB, Singletary says

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers are 2-0 during the Troy Smith era, and coach Mike Singletary isn't about to mess with a good thing.

Singletary said Monday that Smith will remain the team's starting quarterback this week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers even though Alex Smith is healthy and cleared to play for the first time since separating his left shoulder Oct. 24.

It wasn't a very difficult decision. Troy Smith has directed the 49ers to their first winning streak of the season after having one of the most prolific games by a San Francisco quarterback in the past six years.

Troy Smith passed for a career-high 356 yards Sunday to spark a 23-20 overtime victory against the St. Louis Rams, guiding the 49ers on a dramatic touchdown drive in the final minutes of regulation to keep San Francisco's postseason hopes alive.

"He's had a big part in us winning these last two games, and you want to keep that going and see how much is there," Singletary said. "Our team understands that I'm going to go with the guy that is winning right now, the guy that has the hot hand and has made the difference in the past two weeks."

Troy Smith has made a big difference since leapfrogging veteran backup David Carr to take over as the starter during San Francisco's Oct. 31 game against Denver in London. Smith had been San Francisco's No. 3 quarterback to that point and had rarely even taken any snaps with the offense in practice since joining the 49ers in September.

But he led a comeback 24-16 victory over the Broncos, then played a starring role against the Rams as the 49ers improved to 3-6 and remained two games out of first place in the weak NFC West.

Smith passed for more yards in a game than any San Francisco quarterback since 2004.

Smith had at least 60 yards passing to five different receivers, the first time that has happened in franchise history. And he produced in the clutch, completing passes on third and 32 and fourth and 18 during a 76-yard touchdown drive that put San Francisco ahead 20-17 with 2:10 to play in regulation.

"Hopefully, the guys see that as a quarterback I'll be there for them for four quarters until we get a win," Smith said. "You want to give guys the chance to showcase their talents and abilities. We're going to attack it the same way we always do, and I'm going to continue to prepare and do the things I need to do to win."

Singletary recently said that Alex Smith likely would be the team's starter when healthy. But Troy Smith has clearly been an upgrade over Alex, who had a 75.0 passer rating and nine interceptions while going 1-6 in his seven starts. Troy Smith hasn't committed a turnover in his two starts while throwing for 552 yards and compiling a 116.6 passer rating.

Alex Smith took his latest setback in stride. His six-year career with the 49ers has been plagued by turmoil, inconsistency and injuries since he was the No. 1 overall selection of the 2005 NFL draft.

"It's frustrating, but I wasn't surprised by it," Alex Smith said. "He's done a great job the past two weeks and we've won, so I was ready for anything. I'm going to prepare like I always have. When my number gets called, I'll be ready for this team."

Notes: OT Joe Staley will miss four to six weeks after suffering a fractured left fibula against the Rams. Singletary said the 49ers will not place Staley, the team's starter at left tackle, on injured reserve with the hope he can return at the end of the season for a possible playoff run. ... Swing lineman Adam Snyder and OT Barry Sims are the top candidates to replace Staley. Snyder started at right guard Sunday but left the game with a right shoulder injury and did not return. Snyder had a MRI exam and his shoulder was heavily bandaged in the locker room Monday, but Singletary expects him to be available to play against Tampa Bay.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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