Niners notebook: Smith seeking second opinion

Alex Smith is in Birmingham, Ala., today to visit face-to-face with noted orthopedist James Andrews and get another medical opinion on what is troubling his right forearm and throwing shoulder. As he does so, there still seems to be a lot of mixed signals when it comes to the health of the 49ers quarterback.

Smith's agent, Tom Condon, was quoted over the weekend as raising concerns about the 49ers' treatment of his client after he sustained a separated right shoulder on Sept. 30.

Smith began lifting weights, designed to strengthen his forearm. However, Smith sustained an injury that only grew worse once he began throwing passes. Smith's right forearm has gotten weaker, not better, in the weeks since.

Coach Mike Nolan said he does not respect Condon's comments. When asked about Smith's forearm during his weekly media conference Monday, Nolan responded, "I respect your question. I don't respect the source. It would be like me trying to pretend to be a doctor. There are all kinds of things going around about this."

Veteran backup quarterback Trent Dilfer started Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams. He is likely to be back in the starting role for this week's game against the Arizona Cardinals.

It is uncertain when or if Smith will be available for action the remainder of this season. When asked if he expects Smith back in the lineup this season, Nolan said, "I'm hopeful. He's getting another opinion. We'll see where it's at."

Dilfer played well enough to win Sunday against the Rams, but he had virtually no support from a 49ers run game that averaged 2.1 yards a carry and a receiving corps that dropped numerous passes.

Receiver Darrell Jackson had a particularly bad game. He dropped two balls, including a potential game-tying touchdown with about two minutes remaining in the game.

"I can't defend him on this game," Nolan said. "He dropped some balls."

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Nolan wasn't second-guessing his decision to kick a field goal down by seven with less than two minutes remaining, but second-year TE Vernon Davis wasn't too thrilled with the idea.

"I think we should've thrown the ball," Davis said. "You never know what happens."
Nolan decided to send out Joe Nedney to kick a 46-yard field goal with 1:51 remaining instead of going for it on fourth-and-10 from the Rams' 28-yard line.

"Because it was fourth down, I had one opportunity to win the game," Nolan said. "At that time, I thought kicking that field goal, I knew with three timeouts that we'd get the ball back, and we'd be playing for the win, rather than overtime. Obviously, I can't tell the future, but I'm happy it worked out like it did, as far as setting up the situation. As far as not accomplishing the victory, I'm not pleased at all."

Dilfer supported his head coach.

"I thought it was the right thing to do," Dilfer said. "We had all three timeouts left, so I think it was the right thing to do in that situation."

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Niners assistant head coach Mike Singletary is believed to be a top candidate for the Baylor head-coaching job after Guy Morriss was fired Sunday. Morris went 18-40 in five seasons.

Singletary, who played for Baylor from 1977-80, interviewed for the job five years ago, but he had no coaching experience at that time. Singletary, a Hall of Fame linebacker with the Chicago Bears, is in his fifth seasons as an assistant coach in the NFL.

Sources indicated that Baylor officials were in the Bay Area on Tuesday to interview Singletary about the position. Singletary has interviewed for five NFL head-coaching vacancies the past two seasons. Coach Mike Nolan said he has yet to hear directly from Baylor officials about contacting Singletary.

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--- WR Jason Hill, a third-round pick from Washington State, was the 49ers' No. 3 receiver for the first half. But Hill left the game with a left groin strain, and his status for this week's game is uncertain.
--- QB Alex Smith's status for the remainder of the season is in doubt because of a forearm condition that has not gotten better since lifted a lot and threw a lot of passes early in his rehabilitation from a separated shoulder last month. Smith is scheduled to visit with Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., to get another opinion.
--- RB Frank Gore rushed for just 32 yards on 15 carries, the fewest yards rushing in any of his 26 career starts. Gore caught five passes for 31 yards.
--- DE Marques Douglas had a strong day in run defense, as he recorded 10 tackles, mostly on Rams RB Steven Jackson. He also recorded half a sack.
--- WR Darrell Jackson had a rough game, as he dropped two passes, including one in the end zone that would've provided the 49ers with a tie late in the game against the Rams. Jackson had just two catches for 36 yards. Jackson is third on the 49ers with 23 catches for 277 yards in 10 games.

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