SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Mike Singletary is keeping mum on his starting quarterback.
The coach has made up his mind on who will get the call for San Francisco's must-win game Sunday at St. Louis. He just isn't saying which guy named Smith will be under center for the 49ers.
Smith 1 or Smith 2? Singletary says it might just be both.
"It depends on how the game goes," Singletary said Tuesday.
He said he has talked to both quarterbacks and insists each will get his share of reps in practice this week to be ready to play.
A little gamesmanship to keep the Rams guessing, perhaps?
"It's something that I don't really want to announce right now," Singletary said. "You know, in all honesty, in terms of an advantage or whatever, I just think the only real advantage that we could have is to go there and play well. All the other stuff is the cat-and-mouse stuff, but I just think that it's important for us to prepare well this week and get ready to go."
At 5-9, if the 49ers win out they can still finish in a three-way tie with St. Louis and Seattle and capture the awful NFC West crown — which would end a seven-year playoff drought for this franchise and make good on team president Jed York's declaration that the Niners would come back from an 0-5 start to reach the postseason.
Singletary's uncertain future very well could hinge on the arm of the Smith he has chosen. Singletary has said in recent weeks that Alex Smith knows the entire playbook and gives the 49ers more options on offense and the best chance to win.
Neither quarterback could shed any light on the situation Tuesday considering neither was available — or even seen for that matter — during the hour-long open locker room period for media.
Tight end Vernon Davis has said previously it is challenging to prepare each week without knowing who will be passing him the ball come game day.
"Singletary calls the shots," Davis said Tuesday. "Whether we like it or not, we have to deal with it. I mean, I've never had a situation like that where we've had to use two quarterbacks in a game. But if you do it, there's nothing I can really say."
Alex Smith has started the past two games — a commanding 40-21 win over Seattle on Dec. 12 and an embarrassing 34-7 loss last Thursday night at San Diego — after a five-game absence.
Troy Smith, the 2006 Heisman Trophy winner at Ohio State who joined the Niners in September, initially filled in after Alex Smith separated his non-throwing left shoulder Oct. 24 at Carolina and then kept the job even after the 2005 No. 1 overall draft pick was healthy again.
Then it was back to Alex Smith.
Yet it was Troy Smith who led the 49ers to a 23-20 overtime win over St. Louis on Nov. 14, throwing for 356 yards and a touchdown on 17-for-28 passing.
Alex Smith was sacked six times against the Chargers and 21 times for 122 lost yards in all this season. He is 179 of 298 for 1,974 yards and 10 touchdowns with 12 interceptions. Alex Smith is set to become a free agent after the season and will certainly be elsewhere in 2011.
The switcheroos are challenging.
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"It's been tough. It's pretty much been like that since I've been here," Davis said. "We've brought in several quarterbacks — using one, using the other. It's definitely difficult, but it's something you have to fight through. We have to fight through adversity and you have to manage to just overcome certain obstacles and fight through it. So that's what we're doing right now."
So, it's anybody's guess what Singletary has in mind, because he has been changing his so often.
Rookie right tackle Anthony Davis wasn't about to stir the pot. He said it doesn't matter who is QB.
"The head coach handles the quarterback situations," he said.
Note: The 49ers signed K Fabrizio Scaccia and OL Dennis Landolt to the practice squad.