SAN FRANCISCO – Backup quarterback David Carr took a few steps onto the field, helmet on, ready to take over for the beleaguered Alex Smith.
Then Carr was off and Smith returned. That confusing scene followed a heated exchange between Smith and 49ers coach Mike Singletary, who lit into his quarterback after an awful sequence late in San Francisco's 27-24 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night that sent the winless 49ers to 0-5.
Smith fumbled the first play of the fourth quarter that led to Quintin Mikell's 52-yard return for a score. When the Niners got the ball back, Smith threw three straight incompletions.
Singletary was ready to make the switch to Carr when Smith spoke up for himself — after a little pep talk from tight end Vernon Davis encouraging him to do so.
"I really wanted to see what his response would be in a situation like that," Singletary said. "A quarterback who has anything in him is going to have something to say about that."
Singletary and Smith met long after the game ended, though the coach said he was considering a quarterback change before next Sunday's home game against the Oakland Raiders.
"I'm going to keep on going out there until they tell me I'm not," Smith said. "We're 0-5 and what we're doing is not working. We've obviously got to get some things corrected. ... Some things kind of went on on the sideline. Coach Singletary and I talked and I went back in. It's a discussion that was between us."
Both Davis and running back Frank Gore are pulling for Smith to keep his job. Smith responded by leading two late touchdown drives, hitting Davis on a 7-yard score and Gore on a 1-yarder.
"I wanted Alex to stay in the game because I believe in Alex," Davis said. "I think he responded well. He's very courageous."
Still, it has been 31 years since the 49ers have been this bad.
This marks the Niners' first 0-5 start since losing seven in a row to begin a 2-14 season in 1979 under first-year coach Bill Walsh. Two seasons later, the 49ers won their first of three Super Bowls under the late Hall of Fame coach.
No team has rebounded from losing its first five games to make the playoffs.
The 49ers are coming apart in every way in Singletary's second full season in charge. When Smith committed his second of three turnovers and the team's fourth of five overall early in the fourth quarter, Singletary removed his hat and scratched his head on national TV.
"We've got all the tools. We're just killing ourselves, man," Gore said. "I don't want to put it on Alex. I didn't give him any help."
Singletary has been pledging his support of Smith for 10 months, but is now considering all his options. Fans are booing Smith left and right and chanting "We want Carr!" for Carr. Smith threw two interceptions, fumbled and was sacked twice.
When asked if there could be a QB switch this week, Singletary said, "It's possible."
"They're sports fans. We're 0-5. I was frustrated, too. You can't boo yourself," Smith said. "I'm better than that and we're better than that."
The 49ers went 8-8 last season to end a franchise-worst six consecutive losing seasons — but the 2010 team was the popular favorite to win the NFC West.
Now, the Niners will have a tough time even matching last season's .500 finish.
San Francisco still has five remaining games against the division. It's yet to be seen whether Singletary, who fired offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye after three games and replaced him with Mike Johnson, will make more changes. Smith — the No. 1 overall pick out of Utah in the 2005 draft — took over at halftime on Oct. 25 last year at Houston in place of departed Shaun Hill.
"There's no limits. We can go wherever we want to go, we just have to believe and finish strong," Davis said. "We have to get better and find the nasty. Whatever is going on, we have to get to the bottom of it and play."
The 49ers lost their fifth straight Sunday night game and second game in prime time this season.