Niners notebook

Ken Dorsey has been the 49ers' best quarterback this season, but obviously rookie Alex Smith is the player the 49ers are counting upon to be the future at that position. And that's why the Niners are going back to Smith, the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft, as their QB for the remainder of the season.

"We didn't draft Alex to be our savior, we drafted Alex for him to be the best quarterback on our football team and would execute our offense in a way that we'd be good," coach Mike Nolan said. "That's just how I look at the quarterback position."

The change at quarterback comes at a time when two-time Pro Bowl center Jeremy Newberry finally decided to cut his season short and have surgery. Newberry missed one game with a painful condition in which he has virtually no cartilage remaining in his knee. He also has had problems with two dislocated shoulders.

The thinking is that Newberry can have the surgery now and be ready for next season. Also, it'll give the 49ers' younger linemen a chance to get on the field. Eric Heitmann moves from right guard to center, while rookie David Baas is scheduled to play right guard. When the 49ers play the Cardinals on Sunday at Monster Park, it'll be Baas' first career start.

Baas, the 49ers' second-round draft, will get his first career start Sunday against the Cardinals. Baas was expected to be a starter at the beginning of the season, but he missed almost all of training camp with a torn hamstring, setting back his development.

--- After playing impressively in his debut at left tackle a week earlier, rookie left tackle Adam Snyder struggled early in Sunday's game against the Titans.

Snyder was called for a false start before the first play of the game, then defensive end Travis LaBoy got around him to for a big hit on quarterback Ken Dorsey on the next play. Snyder surrendered a sack two plays later. But Snyder settled down as the game went on.

"I started out real rough," Snyder said. "I needed to get my head back in it. I felt I got a handle on it after the first quarter."

--- The 49ers need to start making some plays, and nobody knows that better than linebacker Julian Peterson, who holds himself accountable.

Peterson missed a tackle on a screen pass that went for Chris Brown's 41-yard touchdown. He also failed on a opportunity to intercept a pass and return it for a touchdown. Peterson thought he had a great chance to make the interception, but instead he gave up a 12-yard completion on the play.

"I got to make plays like that," Peterson said. "My teammates depend on me to make plays like that."

--- Even after kicker Jose Cortez missed a 34-yard field-goal attempt in the first quarter at Tennessee, Nolan said he would stick with him as long as regular kicker Joe Nedney is out with a groin strain.

"I wouldn't say it was deflating, but it got my attention," Nolan said of Cortez's miss. "He's got a strong leg, and he certainly kicked off well. The field goal was a disappointment that he missed it."

--- Dorsey has shown that he has the potential to be a solid NFL backup, based on his hard-luck performances in recent weeks. Dorsey has compiled a passer rating of 66.9. One of his interceptions Sunday came on a pass that bounced off TE Billy Bajema's chest. The other one came on a deep ball on which WR Brandon Lloyd fell down.

--- Newberry has been placed on injured reserve, bringing his season to an end. Newberry has battled a painful knee injury that required pain-killing injections to play in games. He has not practiced since the first week of the regular season.

--- Eric Heitmann will take over as the starter in place of Newberry, who will finish the season on injured reserve. Heitmann started 10 games at right guard and one game at center when Newberry was given a rest a couple of weeks ago.


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