Coach Mike Singletary indicated Tuesday that he'll give the team's backup quarterback another chance to lead the team when the Niners return from their bye week to play the St. Louis Rams on Nov. 14.
"Possibly, yes," he said when asked if Troy Smith will start against the Rams. "Right now, yes."
Singletary had no new information about starter Alex Smith, who sustained a separated left shoulder against the Carolina Panthers on Nov. 24. But with Troy Smith having played capably in a 24-16 victory over the Denver Broncos last Sunday, it allows Singletary time to give Alex Smith more time to heal.
"We're just going to pay attention to the trainers and the doctors and let them do their job," Singletary said. "As coaches continue to look at film and look at the body of work of each practice, (we'll) make a decision on what's best for the team and go forward."
The expectations for Troy Smith are high. Singletary said he gave the former Heisman Trophy winner a message after the Broncos win: "I want him to understand that what you did was your job, and I appreciate that. Let's just not be a one-game guy."
The media did not get a chance to speak with either Troy or Alex Smith after meeting with Singletary. But earlier Tuesday, Troy said he hadn't received official word about whether he would start again.
"I don't know," he said, "but I will continue to prepare the same way I always have. You know, that's just been me. I have to be the hardest-working guy in the building. That's what's been etched in stone in my brain."
Although it was clear that Singletary and defensive coordinator Mike Johnson wanted Troy Smith to establish a ground game with running back Frank Gore, Singletary indicated he had no concerns with him as a passer.
"I was comfortable with him as a passer going into the game," he said. "It's not that I had a question about that. It was just a matter of who he was throwing the ball to. But I just think that as a passer he has a good arm. For him, it's just the experience, the whole package, and being able to make sure that he can continue to manage the offense."
WORTH NOTING: Singletary gave the team the rest of the week off, saying that players won't report again until Monday. But he expects them to do some homework. "I want them to make sure they get their DVDs and think about the challenge and the opportunity we have when we get back," he said. "But at the same time, go ahead and enjoy this time. I really wanted them to get away and reconnect with their families and loved ones, but when you come back on Monday, let's be ready to go." … The 49ers made a roster move, putting center Eric Heitmann on injured reserve with a neck injury and claiming rookie linebacker Thaddeus Gibson off waivers from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Heitmann missed most of training camp with a broken fibula, then began having problems with his neck when he came back.