Alex Smith will begin his first NFL season on the San Francisco bench.
After struggling in both of his preseason starts, Smith was told Tuesday by coach Mike Nolan that Tim Rattay would open the season at quarterback against St. Louis.
"I know how this works," said Smith, the top overall pick in this year's draft. "This is a team game. This isn't all about me. I think the team wants to win now. We expect to win now, and as of right now, this looks like the right decision. Hopefully, I keep getting better and keep pushing it. Who knows what happens in the future, but right now, I understand it."
While Smith looked befuddled, going 5-for-16 for 43 yards without a touchdown pass in the first two games, Rattay was 13-of-19 for 194 yards and three TDs.
All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates agreed to a six-year contract, but still will miss three games, including the season opener against Dallas, for missing a team-imposed deadline for reporting to training camp on the weekend. Terms were not announced. "I think I got Antonio Gates money," Gates said. "I think that was fair enough for me and it's a good situation for me to be here long term."
Stephen Davis went through his first full-padded practice in more than 10 months as the team's first-string running back.
Sean Landeta, the leading punter in NFL history, rejoined the Eagles after two years with the Rams. Landeta, 43, ranks first in the NFL with 1,367 career punts going into his 21st season. Last year he averaged 32.5 net yards per punt in 10 games with the Rams with an average return of 15.5 yards - worst in the NFL among starting punters.
Coach Mike Tice says running back Michael Bennett's sore neck most likely will keep him out of the opener against Tampa Bay. Bennett, however, said he should be ready to go by next weekend's preseason finale.