Niners notebook

Rookie quarterback Alex Smith will remain No. 1 on the depth chart, 49ers coach Mike Nolan said after backup Tim Rattay led the club to a 21-13 victory over the Raiders in both teams' exhibition opener. But Nolan was not so definitive about whom would be the starter if the 49ers played their regular-season opener this week.

When asked about which quarterback tops the depth chart, Nolan answered, "Alex right now. But if this were the regular season, I can't answer what it would be like."

Smith, the top overall pick in the draft, did not get much protection during his 18 snaps of action in his debut. He completed just 3 of 9 passes for 25 yards and was sacked once.

Rattay fared much better against the Raiders' second defense. He completed 6 of 8 passes for 103 yards and two touchdowns. Smith and Rattay both played with the 49ers' No. 1 offense, minus four injured starters on the offensive line.

"It's good to play again," Rattay said. "There are a lot of things where I can get better, so I just need to keep practicing hard."

Meanwhile, Smith also knows he has a lot of room for improvement and a lot to learn in his first summer of professional football.

"The tempo and speed of the game were the big things," Smith said about his debut. "And the way the play clock runs is a little different (than college)."

Smith still appears to be in the driver's seat for the starting job when the 49ers open the regular season Sept. 11 against the Rams. However, because of Rattay's NFL experience, he gives the team a good security blanket in case Nolan decides Smith would benefit more from watching from the sideline.

For this week, at least, Smith continues to handle the snaps with the first-team offense, while Rattay runs with the No. 2 group and Ken Dorsey takes care of business with the third-stringers.

Dorsey has struggled recently in practice, and his spot on the roster looks extremely vulnerable. The 49ers like the promise of fourth-stringer Cody Pickett, a second-year player. They believe he has a chance to be a fine player in two or three years. The club entered training camp expecting to keep him around. However, it is unlikely that they will hold onto four quarterbacks this season.

RECEIVER RASHAUN WOODS, THE 49ers' top pick in the 2004 draft, did not play in the exhibition opener because of a groin strain. Although he has not done much to earn a roster spot his first two seasons with the club, he is virtually guaranteed to stay on the team because of salary-cap ramifications. If the 49ers release him, they would be prepared to absorb a cap hit of nearly $2.5 million.

THE 49ERS EXPECT TO get some of their injured players back. Left tackle Jonas Jennings, who missed the exhibition opener after surgery on his right hand, is expected to be ready for Saturday's game against the Broncos. Left guard Justin Smiley (calf) is also expected back soon, and center Jeremy Newberry (knee) hopes to take part in limited practices within the next week or two.

Smiley twice had fluid drained from his left calf and probably would have been able to play in the exhibition opener if it were a regular-season game. Smiley sustained a deep bruise during an intersquad scrimmage when defensive tackle Anthony Adams inadvertently fell on him from behind.

As for the status of Newberry, Nolan said on Monday,"It's still wait and see. As (doctors) told him, it's going to hurt, but if it doesn't swell up then you can play with the hurt and that's the same thoughts he's expressed back to me as well. If it's just a matter of pain, he'll be ready to go. But if it swells up and locks up, then obviously it's not.

"He hasn't really talked so much about it locking up as much as he's said, ‘Look coach, it's just pain. I'll be ready to go.' And it's not one of those things either that you can relieve the pain with a shot, that kind of stuff, that a lot of players will do just for a game because it's more of a bone on bone issue. So (in) about another week I'll start pressing for answers because these last couple preseason games I would like to see if we could get something out of him. If it goes further because his injury is such, we'll do what we have to do. As long as there is light at the end of the tunnel, that's what needs to be expressed to me from the medical staff.

"(Newberry) says he feels good, but he's getting a little bit of swelling from time to time and it might be the workload, it might not. They're certainly not going way too fast. The thing with Jeremy is he wants to go. We could be doing something in here and he could go out on his own and do a little extra because he wants lift and do things like that. It might be a little too much but we're still a week away. I'm anxious to know."

BELIEVE IT OR NOT, controversial receiver Terrell Owens has some support in the 49ers' locker room. Linebacker Jamie Winborn said Owens has a point about his contract.

"I think they need to pay him," Winborn said of the Eagles, who have stated they will not give Owens a new contract. "There's no question he should be one of the top-paid guys in the NFL. There's such thing as a team but that man needs to get his money."

Said linebacker Julian Peterson, "It's a big thing between him and management. He figured he did so much for their organization and I guess he felt like he'd been back-stabbed. You don't want to make T.O. too pissed off because he'll find a way to make his point."

ROOKIE DERRICK JOHNSON SAW it unfold before his eyes. It was a cornerback's dream come true. Johnson intercepted a pass and returned it 87 yards down the sideline for a touchdown against the Raiders.

"I used really good technique and made a good break," Johnson said.

Johnson recorded two interceptions in his first exhibition game. His second came when he picked off Andrew Walter's desperation pass on the final play of the game.

CORNERBACK RANDY DREW, WHO had missed almost all of training camp with a stress fracture in his foot, has been waived.

FREE SAFETY MIKE RUMPH looked fine in his debut at a new position after converting from cornerback. Rumph made two tackles in the exhibition opener, coming up to make an open-field tackle of fullback Zack Crockett on one play.

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