49ers Blog and Q&A

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

August 23, 2008
O'Sullivan turns "scratch and claw" mentality into starting job

J.T. O'Sullivan has been guarded in his comments all summer. Today - one day after he was named the 49ers' starting quarterback - he opened up a bit. Perhaps the most revealing thing O'Sullivan said was his realization early on that disappointment was going to be part of the job. "I looked at other people's careers in the league. When you're sitting at home, you have no other choice. You look at other people's paths in this league and in this position and there's not a whole lot of smooth stories. There just isn't." At that point O'Sullivan said he became resolved to "claw and scratch" to stay in the league. Ironically, Alex Smith is now learning the same lesson. "You have to take all this and use it all as motivation, as a tool," Smith said. "In some way, I'm going to benefit from this and come out the other end. That's the way I'm looking at it." Lots more on this topic in tomorrow's paper...

Speaking of tough interview subjects (O'Sullivan), today I was paid perhaps the greatest compliment of my life. I'm beaming, walking on cloud 9, got a spring in my step. What prompted this happy feeling and all these awful cliches? I got Isaac Bruce, who has been, shall we say, "curt" with the media since arriving here, to utter this sentence: "That's the best question I've had since I've been here." Yes! Nailed it!

Here's the exchange:

MB: Does JT O'Sullivan compare well to the quarterbacks that you've played with in Martz's system?
IB: In what way?
MB: In accuracy. In letting go of the ball early, before you guys make your final moves.
IB: (long pause). That's the best question I've had since I've been here. He does have really good accuracy and he fits well into the scheme of things. (long pause) He's got to be doing things really good to be the leader of a Mike Martz offense."

O'Sullivan ought to be beaming as well.

David Baas is hoping to be cleared for practice on Monday. Wait, scratch that. "Not hoping. I'm expecting it," Baas said. The team's presumptive starter at right guard is ahead of schedule on his recovery from a torn pectoral muscle. If all goes according to plan, Baas will see some action in Friday's preseason finale and will be ready for the start of the regular season.

Baas said he actually feels better now than he did pre-injury. Trainers have been working hard on building his stamina, flexibility and core strength. He's also slimmed down to 327 pounds. What was he before? "I don't want to say. A lot more. I ballooned after the injury." If Baas indeed comes back for the Sept. 7 opener, it raises questions about left guard. Tony Wragge has been having a better preseason than Adam Snyder and could be switched from right guard to Snyder's left guard spot. Snyder was walking around with a plastic boot on his right foot, covering what might be a high-ankle sprain. We'll know more on the condition after Mike Nolan speaks at 3:45 p.m.

Michael Robinson (knee) said he would take part in individual drills today with the hope of gradually working his way to a full practice as the week goes on. There's an outside chance he could play against the Chargers.

It should be noted that undrafted rookie Brian de la Puente played well against Tommie Harris and Anthony Adams in the Bears game. Was it enough to win him a spot on the 53-man? That might be a bit ambitious, but practice squad definitely is a possibility.

-- Matt Barrows

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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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