Coach Mike Singletary announced Thursday that QB Shaun Hill will start in the 49ers’ preseason opener Friday night against the Broncos over Alex Smith.
Almost immediately, though, Singletary noted not to read too much into the decision — neither player is winning the competition, and the coach doesn’t know who will start next week. And Smith also will receive work with the first unit against the Broncos.
An interesting exchange during Thursday’s session with reporters came when Singletary was asked how “pleased” he was with the quarterbacks’ performance during camp. Reading in between the lines, Singletary, known to be honest with his answers, eludes to the fact that neither quarterback has distinguished himself as the clear-cut starter.
“If we were really pleased, we would have one,” Singletary said of picking a starter. “We would say, ‘That’s the guy.’ But I am pleased with the progression they are making. They’re continuing to make progress in all the little things they are doing. I am pleased about that. We will be really excited when the time comes to announce who that guy is.”
A few other 49ers notes from Thursday:
- Singletary said he expects LB Patrick Willis, who has been sidelined since the first day of camp with a strained ankle, to return to practice Monday or Tuesday. “He is doing great,” Singletary noted. “He wants to play. He just talked to me about it over there, but it is not happening.”
- RB Frank Gore and WR Isaac Bruce also will be held out by the coaches. Out because of injury are LG David Bass (foot), RB Michael Robinson (groin), CB Tarell Brown (toe), and TE Delanie Walker (concussion). Robinson and Baas are considered day to day.
- Hill, who doesn’t know how much he’ll play Friday, put the starting assignment in perspective. “I agree that there’s no reason to read into this in any way,” Hill said. “Obviously, starting the first preseason game isn’t the final goal. It’s to start every regular-season game and go from there. I’m just excited for the opportunity to get out there and play again.”