SAN FRANCISCO Overall No. 1 draft pick Alex Smith was promoted to be the San Francisco 49ers' starting quarterback on Tuesday, after just four games as Tim Rattay's backup.
Smith will make his first NFL start on Sunday against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts at Candlestick Park. The former Utah star played in two of the 49ers' first four games, mopping up in losses to Philadelphia and Arizona.
''I feel that Alex gives us the best chance to win, and I believe he's ready,'' San Francisco coach Mike Nolan said. ''Tim has handled everything very well, but at this time in the process, I believe it's time to get Alex in the game. ... At 1-3, we didn't draft Alex to just sit him on the bench. At 1-3, I believe we need to begin to utilize him.''
Rattay completed 57.7 percent of his passes this season for 677 yards, five touchdowns and six interceptions. But the 49ers' offense has struggled, with stark deficiencies in time of possession, total yards (1,989-995) and points (132-76).
The 49ers managed just 168 total yards in last Sunday's 31-14 loss to Arizona in Mexico City.
San Francisco's offense was shut out by the Cardinals, though Smith went 6-of-10 his first NFL completions for 34 yards after Rattay was pulled in the fourth quarter.
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