SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) -Alex Smith spoke by telephone with Dr. James Andrews on Thursday, and the quarterback came away optimistic about his prospects for recovery from a separated right shoulder.
Smith was hurt on the third play of San Francisco's 23-3 loss to Seattle last week, but he remains cautiously optimistic he could be back for the 49ers' trip to face the New York Giants in two weeks - even if his coaches aren't as certain.
``That would be the goal,'' Smith said. ``They're going to err to be cautious and safe, but right now you're thinking of pushing it as fast as you can.''
Smith doesn't expect to need surgery, either now or after the season - though he got a scare while driving to work Wednesday morning when he heard about an erroneous ESPN report claiming he would have season-ending surgery.
``It looked good on the MRI,'' Smith said after the 49ers forwarded results of his exam to Andrews, the noted orthopedic surgeon. ``Those (torn) ligaments will start scarring down and get the swelling out of there and speed up the healing process.''
Smith's ability to play might come down to pain tolerance when the ligaments have healed, and Smith prides himself on his pain threshold. A cortisone shot won't help this injury, but pain medication could get him back in the lineup quickly.
``I leave that up to the medical staff,'' Nolan said. ``I really just want to know when he's ready to go. If they say he can tolerate it, then he goes.''

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