49ers QB Smith separates right shoulder against Seahawks

Updated: September 30, 2007, 9:53 PM ET
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith separated his right shoulder on the third play of Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks and the 49ers don't know when he'll be able to return.

Smith, who had taken every snap for the 49ers the past two seasons, was driven hard to the ground on a sack by Seattle's Rocky Bernard on San Francisco's first drive. He didn't return to the game.

Alex Smith


"It's frustrating," Smith said. "I came out here to win the game. I prepared all week and I couldn't be out there. It's frustrating."

Smith spent the rest of the half in the locker room, and the 49ers announced he wouldn't return in the third quarter. Coach Mike Nolan said it was unlikely he would be able to play next week against Baltimore. Smith was expected to undergo an MRI on Monday to determine the degree if separation in the shoulder.

"He's so tough. He is truly the toughest kid I've been around," backup Trent Dilfer said. "He's disappointed, obviously. He takes great pride as he should in availability is your best ability. When you can't go, and I've been there, it's devastating."

Dilfer knew as soon as he watched Smith try to throw on the sideline that he would be called on for his first snaps in a regular-season game since playing for Cleveland in 2005.

"It's hard," Dilfer said. "It's like seeing your little brother go down. I feel badly for him. But at the same time, there's really no time for sympathy in this league."

Dilfer struggled in the relief role, going 13-of-33 for 128 yards and two interceptions. He was sacked five times and could only lead San Francisco to one field goal in the 23-3 loss to Seattle.

"He certainly wasn't good enough for us to win the game," Nolan said. "But he's an outstanding leader. I don't lack confidence in him."

The 49ers (2-2) have struggled all season offensively, failing to top 200 total yards in three of their four games. Now they may have to get things going with a backup quarterback who hadn't played in nearly two years.

Next up for the 49ers is a game next week against the Baltimore Ravens, a team that has one of the best defenses in the league. Dilfer played for the Ravens in 2000, helping them win the Super Bowl.

"I approach this deal, every time I go in there in a backup situation like I'm the starter," Dilfer said. "I have the mental reps building up and the mind-set to play for long periods of time. I don't know where this thing is going. We'll find out more tomorrow."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press