49ers Blog and Q&A

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

July 31, 2008
Cliff Notes for the 49ers quarterback conundrum

Training camp is full of minutia. Shaun Hill goes 6 for 9 in the morning practice. Mark Roman tweaks a hammy. Nate Clements takes part in punt-return drills. There's a ton of it every day (actually, every practice) and the Internet is a great way to deliver that information. But all that minutia can be blinding. It's like one of those French paintings that are composed of thousands of tiny drips of paint. Sometimes it's necessary to take a step back and look at the macro.

So let's take a deep breath and look at the quarterback situation. Ok, maybe take ten deep breaths. What have we learned after a week of training camp? Nothing really. Mike Martz the other day was very frank in saying that the quarterback situation has looked rough around the edges because he has been trying to cram so much into the brains of Hill and Alex Smith. Both have looked ragged over the first seven days of training camp. Indeed, the entire offense sometimes looks out of sync, and coaches often have to get the offense back in the huddle - or "reload" in coach-speak - when it doesn't line up correctly. But Martz insists it won't be long before we start seeing a smoother product. The base offense is installed. With more repetitions, Smith and Hill will grow more confident. And we have to defer to Martz on this. He's an expert at offense. He's been through this many times before, and he was right on in the spring when he made a similar prediction.

So what to make of the latest J.T. O'Sullivan development? That's trickier. Here are the facts. According to Mike Nolan, Martz held Hill out of the last half of the Wednesday a.m. practice because he thought his arm needed a rest. Hill also sat out team drills in the p.m. practice and didn't throw a ball today. That O'Sullivan would get a few repetitions during Hill's absence is not surprising. What was surprising is that he took all of the first-team repetitions that Hill would have gotten. Nolan's explanation for this is twofold. First, he said it wouldn't be fair to Hill if Smith started getting more first-team repetitions. Second, he essentially said that because O'Sullivan is in the mix to be the starter this season he ought to be getting some first-team repetitions, too.

That's a little tough to understand. Nolan said today that O'Sullivan has been in the quarterback competition all along. But because there aren't enough repetitions to go around in training camp, Smith and Hill have been getting all the snaps. Which is a little bit like saying there's a third-party candidate in this election, but there was no room to put him on the ballot. If O'Sullivan truly has a shot at winning the starting job, then why did it take until July 30 for him to throw a pass to the first-team receivers in team drills? And what about Smith? If he's in a head-to-head race with Hill, and Hill has to drop out for a couple of days, doesn't that mean Smith surges ahead? Not so, Nolan said. The quarterback who gives the best chance to win games, will be the starter, he said today.

It'll be interesting to see if Hill is back in the lineup tomorrow. He said he would be. In fact, he said his throwing arm didn't hurt at all. "I guess it was just noticeably tired," he said. Which is to say that Hill didn't take himself out of the competition, Martz did. If Hill is running the first-team offense tomorrow, we'll be back to the training-camp status quo. If not, it could mean the new battle is between Smith and O'Sullivan..

-- Matt Barrows

About Comments

Reader comments on Sacbee.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Sacramento Bee. If you see an objectionable comment, click the "report abuse" button below it. We will delete comments containing inappropriate links, obscenities, hate speech, and personal attacks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. See more about comments here.

What You Should Know About Comments on Sacbee.com

Sacbee.com is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)

Here are some rules of the road:

• Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "report abuse" button to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.

• Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.

• Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.

• Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand. If you want to discuss an issue with a specific user, click on his profile name and send him a direct message.

• Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.

• Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.

• Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.

• Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.

You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "report abuse" button to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at feedback@sacbee.com. Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.

If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them, but you may ask our staff to retract one of your comments by sending an email to feedback@sacbee.com. Again, make sure you note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us your profile name.

hide comments
blog comments powered by Disqus


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.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]


May 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  

Monthly Archives

Ask a question

Please use the form below to submit your question. Because there is a 100-word limit for questions, a word counter is located directly beneath the box where you enter the your question.


49ers Question:

Your letter contains of 100 words allowed.  Count words

Your IP Address has been recorded as and will be included with this submission.