Report: Alex Smith to return as starting QB

After Sunday's 34-16 loss to the Packers, 49ers coach Mike Singletary says the starting quarterback issue remains a "week-to-week thing." But according to Jason LaCanfora of, Alex Smith will return as the starter.

UPDATE: Jason LaCanfora of reported via Twitter Monday night that Alex Smith will return as 49ers starting quarterback. LaCanfora said coach Mike Singletary made the decision after meeting with his coaching staff.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Twelve games into the season and the San Francisco 49ers are still undecided about a starting quarterback.

Hard to believe? Coach Mike Singletary said Monday that he's unsure whether to start Troy Smith or Alex Smith on Sunday in what is now the 49ers' make-or-break game against the Seattle Seahawks.

"We have to re-visit it every week," Singletary said, "and of course today we're spending time looking at the film and really making sure that we're accurate on the things that we see.

"The thing that I've said all along is I want to go with the quarterback that I feel gives us the best chance to win. And that's a week-to-week thing.''

Singletary has been tepid in his recent postgame reviews of Troy Smith, who is 3-2 since taking over for Alex Smith in Week 8 but has failed to complete even half his passes the past two games: 11 for 23 two weeks ago against the Arizona Cardinals and 10 of 25 in Sunday's 34-16 loss to the Green Bay Packers that dropped the Niners' record to 4-8. After the game, Singletary told reporters it was a "close call" whether to let Troy Smith stay in the game.

The decision on a starter is critical because a loss to the Seahawks (6-6) could eliminate the 49ers from the NFC West race.

On Monday, Singletary said Troy Smith "did decent. I thought he did OK. Decent performance."

The 49ers' four longest plays against the Packers, however, were Smith passes: 66, 25 and 20 yards to Vernon Davis and 39 yards to Michael Crabtree.

In the Niners' season-opening game at Seattle, a 31-6 loss on Sept. 12, Alex Smith was 26 of 45 passing for 225 yards and three interceptions. He sustained a separation in his left, non-throwing shoulder Oct. 24 at Carolina but stayed on the sidelines after Troy Smith led the team to two consecutive victories.

Tight end Vernon Davis said there's a difference between the two Smiths, so knowing the starter is important.

"You have to be on the same page," he said. "That guy has to know how fast you are, how you adjust to deep balls, where you want your deep ball thrown. All that comes into consideration when different quarterbacks are coming in and out. Alex seems to be a lot more careful than Troy as far as throwing the deep balls, but they're two different quarterbacks, two different styles."

Singletary won't commit to either one, at least not yet. Asked if he was leaning toward Troy Smith, he said, "Right now, I'm leaning toward Seattle and really focusing in on them. As far as the quarterback situation, we'll get together as a staff and we'll make that decision. But right now we're putting everything that we have into Seattle."

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