The 49ers are yet to say which Smith will be their starting quarterback on Sunday, but St. Louis Rams’ coach Steve Spagnuolo isn’t fretting over the upcoming announcement.
He’s faced this situation before.
When his team played at Candlestick Park in Week 10 the 49ers were deciding whether to start Alex Smith or Troy Smith. And just last week Spagnuolo wasn’t sure if Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback Matt Cassel would be healthy enough to start less than two weeks after he underwent an emergency appendectomy.
In his mind, offenses don’t change much based on who is leading them on Sunday. So regardless of which Smith is under center for the 49ers, his game plan will remain the same.
“You’re really defending the system,” Spagnuolo said in his Wednesday conference call with the Bay Area media. “We’ll have to prepare for both in some regards with their slight differences, but there are a lot of other things that football team does offensively really well, and I think they do it well with either quarterback.”
It was Troy Smith who got the nod in that Week 10 matchup with St. Louis, and the fourth-year signal caller had the best game of his career throwing for 356 yards and one touchdown.
After that game however, teams seemed to key in on Troy Smith’s strengths and he was unable to duplicate those numbers in his next three starts. Still, the Rams haven’t forgotten what happened on Nov. 14.
Safety O.J. Atogwe, whose fourth-quarter, pass-interference penalty set up a 49ers’ go-ahead touchdown, believes his team will be better prepared for Troy Smith this time around if he gets the start again on Sunday.
“We will definitely be more familiar with him and the types of things he’s good at,” Atogwe said during his conference call. “I think that will help us in our preparation, just knowing what type of quarterback he is.”
While facing a different quarterback is only a possibility for the Rams this weekend, they know they will line up against a different running back than they saw in Week 10. During that game Frank Gore was the focal point of the 49ers’ offense, but he has since been placed on injured reserve.
But as Spagnuolo said, he doesn’t prepare for individuals, he just focuses on his opponent’s scheme.
“There are still two good running backs there,” he said. “One of them I am very familiar with and have a lot of respect for (Brian Westbrook, who was with the Philadelphia Eagles when Spagnuolo was the New York Giants’ defensive coordinator), and I know the rookie has done a nice job too, (Anthony) Dixon.”
Tags: Alex Smith, Troy Smith
Posted in Game Preview | 22 Comments »