Alex Smith will be watching Shaun Hill take the lion's share of the practice repetitions with the first-string offense as the season begins. Today he watched with a plastic cast on his right hand. Smith sprained the thumb while tackling Raiders linebacker Ricky Brown Saturday following an interception. If he does not practice, as expected, this week, he will not play in Saturday's game in Dallas. Nate Davis took the back-up reps today.
Both quarterbacks spoke after practice. As expected, Hill struck a tone of gratitude. "It's been quite a ride," the long-time back-up said. "I almost made it through my whole sixth season without taking a snap and now here I am ready to start for one of the most storied franchises in the NFL." Smith's tone was one of resolve. "It's nothing you ever want to hear," he said. "It's not fun, but at the same time, this doesn't change anything for me." Both players said the new dynamic wouldn't affect their friendship. In fact, Smith said a resolution will probably ease tension. "I think the hard part is probably over," he said.
Some more injury news ... Patrick Willis, Parys Haralson and Tarell Brown were all back at practice. Both Brown and Dre Bly were practicing with the first-team defense at various times. I'll try to get clarification on where that competition stands tomorrow. ... WR Arnaz Battle has a tight hamstring and did not practice. ... David Baas (foot) and Adam Snyder (knee) were working out on an adjacent field. Both have a chance to be on the field for the preseason finale in San Diego.
-- Matt Barrows