SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -The San Francisco 49ers moved quickly Tuesday to refute the latest report on the perceived rift between Mike Nolan and Alex Smith, insisting the third-year coach and his franchise quarterback still can work together if both return to the team next year.
Smith criticized Nolan in comments to the San Jose Mercury News on Monday, just a few hours before Smith decided to undergo season-ending surgery on his separated right shoulder. Smith, who was injured Sept. 30 and hasn't played in a month, said Nolan had tried to ``undermine'' him in the locker room, telling players Smith was using his injuries as an excuse for poor play.
In a statement issued by the 49ers on Tuesday, Smith said the article ``does not reflect how I truly feel.''
Smith and Nolan already had a lengthy public conflict about the quarterback's injury after Smith returned to the lineup in late October. Both insisted the quarterback's arm was fine as he struggled through three games - but Smith then changed his story, acknowledging the injury affected his throws and implying Nolan hadn't understood his concerns.
The coach and quarterback insisted they had patched the lines of communication in recent weeks, but then Smith essentially claimed Monday that Nolan had attempted to turn his teammates against him.
``I can see how an article like this can be very damaging, but I know my relationships with coach Nolan and my teammates are stronger than that,'' Smith said in Tuesday's statement. ``I met with coach Nolan (on Tuesday), and I never intended this to be a distraction for the team or their preparation for the upcoming game. My focus now is to concentrate on getting healthy so I can return and continue to help my team.''
Smith will undergo surgery to strengthen his right shoulder Thursday in Alabama by Dr. James Andrews, the noted orthopedist. Backup Trent Dilfer also is unlikely to play for the 49ers (3-10) Saturday against Cincinnati because of a concussion, likely leaving third-stringer Shaun Hill as the starter.
Nolan knows his job security is in question because of the 49ers' miserable season, which includes 10 losses in the last 11 games. His quarterback's lingering injury and the resulting misunderstandings have been nettlesome, prompting him to trade criticism through the media with Tom Condon, Smith's powerful agent who believes the team mishandled his client.
``It is a difficult time for Alex,'' Nolan said in Tuesday's statement. ``He has not had to deal with an injury that will require surgery before. The relationship Alex and I have developed over the past three years is stronger than a negative news story.''

Recent NFL Discussions

Football and Basketball Newsletters on Wed, Jan 2017 by Blade
Public buries sports books on Tue, Jan 2017 by Timmy1961
Pick Wiz Play 1/15 on Mon, Jan 2017 by Michael Cash
2nd half play ne/hou on Mon, Jan 2017 by Strakey

Top NFL Public Bets

NFL Top Stories

Thumbnail Updated NFL MVP Odds Heading into Championship Sunday, Matt Ryan is a clear favorite to take home this season's NFL MVP Award.
Thumbnail Championship Sunday Vegas Spreads How do Las Vegas oddsmakers view this weekend's championship games in the NFL?
Thumbnail Updated Super Bowl LI Betting Odds And then there were four. What are the odds of the four remaining teams to win this year's Super Bowl?
Thumbnail Pats Open as 6-Point Faves vs. Steelers The Patriots will host the Steelers in the 2017 AFC Championship Game and have opened as nearly touchdown favorites for next Sunday's...
Thumbnail Falcons open as favorites vs. Pack The Falcons will host the Packers in the 2017 NFC Championship Game, where Atlanta has opened as a small favorite.
Advertisement

NFL Team Pages