Last week injuries to his top two quarterback kept Oakland Head Coach Tom Cable from announcing a starter until gameday.
This week, the Broncos have the luxury of knowing who will be under center to begin Sunday’s game in London.
With No. 1 quarterback Alex Smith out with an injury, San Francisco Head Coach Mike Singletary has picked Troy Smith to lead his team. Singletary decided on the former Heisman Trophy winner who has spent the season as the No. 3 quarterback rather than backup David Carr.
“I just feel that (Troy Smith) gives a chance to win football games, I really do,” Singletary said in a Wednesday morning conference call. “So, I am excited about the opportunity for him and for us.”
Smith, who has not started a game since he was a rookie with Baltimore in 2007, completed 34-of-63 passes for 388 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions this preseason. He was sacked nine times.
At Ohio State, Smith was known as a dual-threat quarterback adept at using his mobility to create big plays. He rushed for 1,168 yards during his career.
Watching Smith’s limited action as a pro, Head Coach Josh McDaniels has been impressed with his ability as a pocket passer and game manager.
“He can also do a lot of good things from the pocket with his arm,” McDaniels said. “He ran an offense in Baltimore that was, I would say, not a simple one to deal with and handle and he did a nice job with that. I’m sure he’s looking forward to the opportunity to get in there and go.”
Smith will be charged with leading an offense that includes proven playmakers in tight end Vernon Davis and running back Frank Gore. With Alex Smith — another quarterback capable of making plays with his legs — starting the first seven games, the 49ers scored the second-fewest points per game in the league en route to a 1-6 start.
While it’s nice to know before Sunday who the quarterback will be, Mario Haggan said ultimately, the Broncos gameplan remains the same.
“It doesn’t change much for us,” Haggan said. “We still have to go out and set edges and put pressure on him and make him make some bad throws.”
The Broncos pass defense — which currently ranks No. 10 in the NFL — could also get a boost this weekend from the possible returns of safety Brian Dawkins and cornerback Andre’ Goodman from injury. Both participated fully on Wednesday — the second consecutive session they were back on the Dove Valley practice field.
Robert Ayers (foot), Perrish Cox (concussion), Darcel McBath (ankle), Eddie Royal (groin), Kevin Vickerson (groin) and Wesley Woodyard (hamstring) all missed Wednesday’s session.
McDaniels said Tuesday that Ayers, McBath and Woodyard will not travel with the team to London.
However, the head coach did not rule out the others and said those decisions will be made in advance of Thursday’s flight across the Atlantic based on if the players have a realistic chance of playing Sunday.
“We’re going to go through today,” McDaniels said, “and make sure we make a good decision on whether or not it’s worth their time (to travel to London) or if it would be better served for them to just stay here and rehab.”
For the 49ers, Alex Smith (shoulder) and center Eric Heitmann (neck) have already been declared out. Linebacker Ahmad Brooks (knee), cornerback Tarrell Brown (back) and Davis (ankle) missed Wednesday’s workout in London. Cornerback Nate Clements (ankle) and running back Anthony Dixon (hamstring) were limited during the practice.
- Eric Detweiler, DenverBroncos.com
Below are some photos from today’s workout: