Veteran Trent Dilfer will make his sixth start of the season Sunday when the 49ers face the Minnesota Vikings. Smith was cleared to begin light throwing as part of his rehabilitation from shoulder and forearm problems. It does not appear likely Smith will play again this season.
As for the future, Nolan said if Smith can get healthy, he still is seen as the team's quarterback of the future.
"It's really difficult to commit to anything past today when you really don't know what it (the injury situation) is," Nolan said. "If everyone is healthy and everyone is playing well, he's the guy. But that's not the way it is today.
"If everyone's at the top of their game? Shoot, yeah, we drafted him (Smith) to be the guy."
Smith has not been healthy since he sustained a separated throwing shoulder Sept. 30 against the Seattle Seahawks. He tried unsuccessfully to play three games, but was clearly not healthy. The 49ers have a 7-5 record in the 12 games before Smith's injury.
The club is just 1-8 in games this season with Dilfer at quarterback. Neither quarterback has been impressive this season. Dilfer is 33rd in the NFL with a passer rating of 58.4, ranking ahead of only Smith (57.2) among qualifying quarterbacks.
Nolan has been supportive of Dilfer, who has mostly struggled since being pushed into the starting lineup. Those close to Smith are disappointed with how Nolan handled Smith's injury, as well as some of his comments since. Nolan has said that Dilfer had two starts in a row that were better than any performance Smith had during his 30 career starts.
"When I say Trent gives us our best chance to win, it's because right now as a healthy quarterback, without question he gives us our best chance to win," Nolan said. "When Alex was not healthy, he did not. So it's not a knock on anybody."