Niners QB Smith given starting nod vs. Raiders

Alex Smith will start at quarterback for the 49ers when they host the Raiders in a preseason game Saturday.

Niners coach Mike Singletary made the announcement after practice Friday. He also said his evaluation of the competition between Smith and Shaun Hill is coming along.

“I think we are definitely closer than a week ago,” Singletary said about naming a starting QB. “Hopefully soon here, we will have an idea.”

“It is not like one is running away with it or anything like that. It is just one of those things where you get to a point and you have to make a decision and go with your gut.”

Smith completed 5 of 7 passes for 33 yards and one touchdown in a 17-16 victory over the Broncos last week, and Hill, who started, hit both of his attempts for 41 yards.

In a new offensive scheme, Singletary is stressing ball protection as one of the determining factors in who will win the competition and is looking for Smith to play mistake-free football in his start.

“I just think it is important for him to go into the game and do the things we are looking for — taking care of the football, make sure we are getting the football out and avoiding costly mistakes,” Singletary said.

Although Smith has winning the starting job on his mind, he’s trying to stay focused on the Raiders.

“I’m not thinking about what will happen a week from now or two weeks from now,” Smith said. “I’m thinking about what is going to happen (Saturday) night.”

The game is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. ET on Saturday, and NFL Network will show it on tape delay at 10 p.m. ET on Sunday.

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