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NFL Notes: 49ers change QBs

The San Francisco 49ers are going back to Troy Smith as their starting quarterback while leaving open the possibility they might switch to Alex Smith at any time.

Coach Mike Singletary said Thursday that Troy Smith will start Sunday’s pivotal NFC West game against the St. Louis Rams in place of Alex Smith, who started San Francisco’s last two games.

The coach also said he wouldn’t hesitate to change quarterbacks during the game if the situation calls for it.

The 49ers have changed quarterbacks after each of their last two defeats in an attempt to salvage a losing season. At 5-9, San Francisco still has an opportunity to capture the NFC West title and end a seven-year playoff drought by winning its final two games against St. Louis and Arizona.

McNabb’s agent fires back at Shanahans

The simmering feud between Donovan McNabb and Mike Shanahan and his brother continued with a statement from the quarterback’s agent.

Fletcher Smith took aim directly at the Washington coach and Kyle Shanahan, the Redskins’ offensive coordinator, for the way they have handled the benching of his client.

Smith said that the comments made by the Shanahans – “both Mike and more specifically Kyle” – have made the quarterback’s relationship with Washington difficult to maintain.

According to Smith, Kyle Shanahan said that McNabb “will never take another snap for me again” after McNabb drove the Redskins down the field for the potential game-tying drive against Tampa Bay on Dec. 12.

Around the league

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson did some running in practice for the first time this week and interim coach Leslie Frazier said he has improved dramatically over the last several days. He added Peterson’s playing status for Monday night’s game with the Eagles remains a game-time decision. If he cannot play, rookie Toby Gerhart will get the bulk of the work. … Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield has been fined $7,500 for a hit on Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler during the Bears’ 40-14 victory over Minnesota on Dec. 20. … Indianapolis running back Joseph Addai expects to return Sunday at Oakland after missing the past eight games with a nerve injury in his left shoulder. Linebacker Clint Session also is likely to play after missing the past seven games with a broken arm and a dislocated elbow.

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