49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

August 13, 2009
Hill gets nod at QB; Gore, Bruce, Willis to sit

Shaun Hill will start tomorrow's preseason opener against Denver - but don't read anything into that, Mike Singletary said. According to Singletary, the quarterback race is too close to call. He said that the plan is to have Alex Smith get some snaps with the first team. How many snaps will each get? Unlike Mike Nolan, who went into preseason games with a specific number of snaps in mind, Singletary kept it vague, saying the flow of the game would dictate how much each guy plays. He also said that the pecking order in the Denver game does not necessarily means Smith will start next week's game against the Raiders.

There won't be a lot of star power on the field for the 49ers. Frank Gore, Isaac Bruce and Patrick Willis will not play, Singletary said. The plan is for Gore to get some preseason carries this summer - he won't do a LaDainian Tomlinson - but Glen Coffee will take the first-teams carries against Denver. Singletary said that the starting wideouts had not been determined but a safe bet would be Josh Morgan and Arnaz Battle. Singletary said Willis (ankle) could be back at practice on Monday or Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Zak Keasey will start at fullback for Moran Norris, who has missed several training-camp practices while dealing with a private matter. Dre Bly, a former Bronco, will start for Tarell Bown (toe) at cornerback, Jeff Ulbrich will start for Willis and tight end J.J. Finley will take Delanie Walker's (concussion) snaps.

Some of you have been asking about the situation at right tackle. Here's what's happening: Marvel Smith has not been cleared to take part in every practice. There's no new injury. He's still working his way back from the back injuries that have sidelined him each of the last two seasons. There's a sense, and Smith agrees, that he may have tried to come back too fast in the past.

Because he has not been cleared for a full practice schedule, Smith has been alternating with rookie Alex Boone as the second-team right tackle. When he is cleared to practice fully, he will have a chance to compete with Adam Snyder for the first-string job. When will he get that clearance? No one knows. Snyder, who thus far in his career has been a jack of all trades on the offensive line, met with Mike Singletary this offseason and asked that he be kept at one position, right tackle. Singletary acquiesed, and so far he's been happy with Snyder's progress.

-- Matt Barrows

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Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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