Troy Smith earns starting nod for 49ers

Former Ohio State Heisman trophy-winning quarterback Troy Smith will get the third start of his career — and his first since the 2007 season — when his San Francisco 49ers take on the Denver Broncos on Sunday in London. Cut by the Baltimore Ravens after the last day of training camp on Aug. 20, Smith was claimed off the waivers by San Francisco. He spent the team’s first seven games as the third-string quarterback. “The way that you prepare as a professional athlete, you have to be prepared when your number is called,” Smith told local media in San Francisco after practice Wednesday. “And that’s exactly where I’m at.” Smith faces the difficult task of turning around San Francisco’s 1-6 start. Starting quarterback Alex Smith separated his non-throwing shoulder when he was sacked in the third quarter of last Sunday’s 23-20 loss at Carolina. Backup David Carr took his place and threw a costly interception. “I think Troy Smith gives us a good opportunity to win this game,” coach Mike Singletary told media in a press conference Wednesday. “He’s been studying since we got here and he’s been getting with the coaches as much as he possibly could. He has enough of the offense to play.” Joining the 49ers this offseason, Smith reunited with former OSU and high school teammate Ted Ginn, who was acquired by the 49ers in an offseason trade with the Miami Dolphins. Ginn was one of Smith’s favorite targets in his 2006 Heisman campaign and was on the receiving end of nine of Smith’s 30 touchdown passes. “We just did so much together for so many years and had great success,” Ginn said. “He’s always been big brother and I’ve been little brother. It’s not really going to ever change, no matter how old we get.” Smith said he is prepared to play and knows that things can’t get worse for the struggling 49ers. “I think the easiest way to get through to your teammates is to show that you know exactly what your job is, what everyone expects of you and to go out there and execute,” Smith said. “We have a tremendous group of guys around us and we can do nothing but get better.” Smith has made two starts in his four-year NFL career. He took over for an injured Kyle Boller and went 1-1 in the last two games of the 2007 season. In those contests, he completed 32 of 60 passes, throwing for two touchdowns and no interceptions. Singletary hopes Smith can bring some stability to a 49ers team that has been viewed as a disappointment in the shaky NFC West. “The No. 1 thing I like about him … is leadership,” Singletary said. “That is his ability to get everybody on the same page.” Although Ginn is excited to join his Buckeye counterpart in the huddle, he said that it will take time for Smith to shake off the rust. “It’ll take some time,” Ginn told Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area. “We can’t expect him to go in and be a Tom Brady. We just want him to go in and be Troy Smith, enjoy his time and make a difference.”

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