SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) -Quarterback Trent Dilfer will start for the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday against the New York Giants, though Alex Smith also will be in uniform.
Coach Mike Nolan made his decision Thursday after watching two days of practice with Dilfer and Smith, who separated his right shoulder on the third play of San Francisco's 23-3 loss to Seattle on Sept. 30. Dilfer, a 14th-year pro, is 24-of-52 for 254 yards with three interceptions and one touchdown pass since then.
Though Smith returned to practice this week and participated in most drills while wearing pads Thursday, Nolan isn't ready to put a key game on the sore shoulders of his former No. 1 overall draft pick.
``I'm not certain that the confidence in Alex, or my confidence in watching him, is where it needs to be,'' Nolan said. ``I know he wants to play in the worst way, but I think he understands what I mean.''
Smith led the 49ers to season-opening victories over Arizona and St. Louis, but his numbers are unimpressive while throwing to a mediocre receiving corps and getting hit regularly behind a struggling offensive line. He's 43-of-84 for 461 yards with one TD pass and one interception while getting sacked 10 times for a 66.6 passer rating.
No matter who's taking the snaps, the offense has failed to gain 200 yards in four of the Niners' five games. San Francisco has scored just 10 points in nearly two full games under Dilfer, who is getting his first playing time since 2005.
``The mind-set is no different, but that uncomfortableness of what's going to happen, I think coach Nolan did the right thing to make a decision,'' Dilfer said. ``You always want to be part of the solution, and I'm very excited about the opportunity. I've established a great rapport with the guys, and I think that shows on the practice field.''
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