Back in training camp, the San Francisco 49ers made the rather curious decision to name J.T. O'Sullivan their starting quarterback despite the fact he had never really done anything in the NFL to warrant such a position. It raised a few eyebrows because they not only had a former No. 1 overall pick on the roster (Alex Smith), but also because Shaun Hill played well in his limited action a season ago. And while three games when the team had nothing to play for isn't exactly a large sampling of data to examine, it's still more than O'Sullivan had accomplished in his career.
Nonetheless, the 49ers gave the job to O'Sullivan, and for a couple of games, it looked like it wasn't going to completely backfire on them. Mike Martz was delirious in his praise of the journeyman signal-caller, while the team won two of its first three games. Then, all of a sudden, O'Sullivan started to play like a guy who had played for eight teams in six years, turning the ball over at an alarming rate, while the 49ers dropped five games in a row.
This, of course, led to O'Sullivan taking a seat on the bench, and Hill taking over under center.
During Hill's five games this season (four starts) he's posted a passer rating better than 96.0 in every game but one (a 29-24 loss at Arizona which very easily could have been a win), including yesterday's 28-of-39 performance where he threw a pair of touchdowns and completed passes to ten different receivers.
Overall, in his eight starts for the 49ers over the past two seasons, the 28-year-old Hill has completed 65 percent of his passes (151-of-234), thrown for 1,680 yards (7.2 yards per pass attempt) and thrown 14 touchdowns to only five interceptions. That's good enough for a 96.8 passer rating. And, of course, more importantly, the 49ers are 5-3 in said starts. By comparison, over the past two seasons in games started by Smith and O'Sullivan, the team is 5-16. Just stating the facts.
I'm not sure Hill is the team's long-term answer at the position, and they'll probably address it in the offseason, whether it be through the draft or free agency. Still, it's looking now like the Mike Nolan/Martz decision to start O'Sullivan was absolutely the wrong one. Especially since they, allegedly, made up a report of an injury to Hill for the sole purpose of keeping O'Sullivan on the field.
It seems that, in the end, the only thing Hill had working against him in training camp was the fact he never played for Mike Martz in a previous offense.
Shaun Hill Proves It Should Have Been His Job From the Beginning originally appeared on NFL FanHouse on Mon, 08 Dec 2008 13:25:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.