49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

March 10, 2009
Don't forget Damon

Anyone else get flashbacks when reading what Alex Smith had to say about his QB competition with Shaun Hill today? After all, a year ago at this time we were all preparing for a Hill-Smith duel. A year ago at this time, Smith was coming back from a shoulder injury and Hill was coming off late-season heroics. And a year ago at this time, no one was talking about the No. 3 quarterback.

That no. 3 quarterback, of course, came out of nowhere (well, not exactly ) to win what became a three-way competition in training camp. The lesson: Don't count out Damon Huard. Smith spoke today as if it was going to be a two-man race between him and Hill. When Huard spoke to KJR radio last week, however, it didn't sound as if he had resigned himself to being the No. 3 QB. Said Huard when asked about his role:

Well, I don't think any real role has been defined other than, 'hey you've got a chance to come to camp and compete.' That's kind of where it was left. So you never know how these things unfold. They were kind of in that predicament last year with all the quarterbacks they had. So, I think. I'll just go to camp, put my best foot forward, work hard, learn the system and see where the chips fall. I think the sky's the limit in some ways.

In other words: If J.T. can do it, why not me?

Of course, there are some key differences with last year's three-way competition. A year ago, only J.T. O'Sullivan was familiar with Mike Martz's voluminous playbook. This year, Hill, Smith and Huard are on equal footing - the offense is similar to ones all three have run in the past and it won't be as daunting as Martz's.

Another difference is Smith, who said today that his shoulder feels better than it did at any point last year. The suture that was used to reattach Smith collarbone and shoulder in a December 2007 surgery irritated him throughout 2008. It was that suture that caused a fragment of his shoulder to break just before the season. Both the fragment and the offending suture have been removed, and Smith is now pain free for the first time since September 30, 2007 at about 1:15 p.m. ...

-- Matt Barrows

MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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