The 49ers may be without both Alex Smith and Shaun Hill in Saturday's preseason game against Dallas.
Hill strained his back on the first pass he threw Wednesday morning, after Coach Singletary had named him the starting quarterback Monday afternoon. Kevin Lynch reports on his San Francisco Chronicle blog that Hill is now listed as day-to-day, and might not play in Saturday's exhibition game at Dallas.
The 49ers have already scratched Alex Smith from Saturday's line-up. Smith sprained a thumb tackling Raider linebacker Ricky Brown after an interception in Saturday night's game.
If neither Hill nor Smith can play for the 49ers' third preseason game at Dallas -- and the third preseason game is typically the "dress rehearsal" game in which coaches let their starting quarterbacks play the longest -- then Niner fans will get an exceptionally long look at the likes of third-string candidates Nate Davis and Damon Huard.
Coach Singletary sounds optimistic about Hill coming back quickly. "I'm assuming he's going to play," Singletary said in a press conference after practice. "But I don't know that. So I don't even want to think about all the other stuff."
Hill himself sounds even more optimistic, telling Dan Brown of the Mercury News that he will "definitely" play Saturday against the Cowboys.
But it's not Hill's decision, it's the decision of the coaches and medical staff. And the coaches won't take unecessary risks with the guy whom the just named the season's starter.
So we may see a Nate Davis show Saturday. Damon Huard is in his 14th season, and the coaches pretty much know what they've got in him. Davis' potential is more intriguing, and he's taken most of the practice snaps since Hill was excused with the strained back.
Davis led the 49ers on three scoring drives late in Saturday's game against the Raiders, and obtained a quarterback rating of 103.2. We may get a chance see if Davis can do that against NFL starters instead of training camp third-stringers.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who would also spraining his lower back throwing a football one time.