49ers Blog and Q&A

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

June 5, 2009
Hill gets first swing at p.m. practice

Remember how Alex Smith led off this morning's team practices? Well, it was Shaun Hill's turn this afternoon to lead the first-string offense. Hill did not have a very pretty practice. Almost every afternoon in Santa Clara, the wind comes billowing in from the north, and the 49ers' offense was facing that wind all afternoon. After a couple of particularly ragged plays, Singletary halted practice, huddled everyone together and demanded better. On the very next play, Hill was picked off by Allen Rossum on an attempt to Vernon Davis. (Hill did not seem particularly happy with Davis' route). On the play after that, Hill threw a wobbly incompletion in Josh Morgan's direction.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what makes the 49ers' quarterback decision so tough. Everyone knows that Hill excels in game situations, that he's good at directing an offense and that he has command of a game-day huddle. The problem is that there won't be any games until mid August. Between now and then, all the 49ers have to evaluate the QB battle is practices and - as was the case today - Hill does not always look good in practice.

Alex Smith had the longest completion of the afternoon, an into-the-wind wobbler to Morgan over Rossum that went about 30 yards. Nate Davis also got in on the action, throwing a couple of short passes. Even his big arm was not immune to the wind. His sideline pass - about 20 yards - to Dominique Zeigler did not have its usual spiral, but he still connected with the skinny wideout. Zeigler was the afternoon starter in place of Jason Hill, who has a sore hamstring.

Safety Reggie Smith went down in a heap during individual drills. He appeared to be having trouble with his left groin (not that I was staring). Lewis Baker took over second-team strong safety duties in his absence.

-- 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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