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
"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
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
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
"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
"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