Last season watching J.T. O'Sullivan take those seven step drops made me cringe thinking there was a 25% chance he was going to throw an interception, get sacked, or fumble the ball. That means every one out of four dropbacks went terribly. Sadly, it was an improvement over the year before when the team went through 4 different starting quarterbacks. And it has been this way for the 49ers at QB ever since they got rid of Jeff Garcia. The struggles at quarterback have been the focal point in the six straight losing seasons the 49ers have suffered.
But it is also what makes us love Shaun Hill. He has posted a career 7-3 mark as a starting quarterback and he has a 90.5 passer rating in the past two seasons. But why is he not penciled in as the 49ers starting quarterback for next season? It is obvious that Mike Singletary and Scot McCloughan have doubts about him, and I will go through each of the ten games Hill has started and give him a grade based on his performance.
1st start: vs. Bengals 5-8 record W20-13
21-28 197 yards 1 TD 0 INT 1 Rushing TD 105.8 QB rating
The Bengals came in with one of the worst defenses in the league, and quite possibly the worst secondary in the league. Darrell Jackson had 8 catches for 86 yards and Vernon Davis had a TD reception, but Hill failed to complete a pass of more then 20 yards. The defense played well and Gore ran the ball 29 times for 138 yards. So it makes me wonder, Gore runs for 138 yards but Hill still can't stretch the defense for more then a 20 yard pass? Hill did a good job of managing the game and he didn't turn the ball over, so he deserves a good grade. Grade: B+
2nd start vs. Tampa Bay (9-5) W 21-19
11-24 123 yards 3TD 1INT 83.9 QB rating
The Bucs replaced their starters by halftime because they had already clinched their division the week before. Gore had another great game with 132 all-purpose yards and a touchdown. Hill was very erratic and completed only 46% of his passes. But, he did come up with 3 touchdowns once they got down in the red zone. He came through when it mattered at the end. Grade: B-
Season Grade: B
He wasn't spectacular, but Hill gave the 49ers a chance to win by managing the game and not turning the ball over. The whole team seemed to respond quite well to him.
1st start @ ARI (5-3) Loss 29-24
19-40 217 yards 2TD and 2 Int 60.1 QB rating
Everyone remembers this Monday Night Football Game where the 49ers were one yard away from upsetting the 1st place Cardinals on national TV. The 49ers were 2-6 at the time and needed to win if they were to have any chance at a playoff spot. Hill struggled at times in the game and he turned the ball over three times. But, he did not get sacked. J.T. O'Sullivan had been sacked 32 times in the previous eight games which led the NFL at the time. Hill led a great drive at the very end of the game but he took way too long to get the snap off and it ended up costing the game. Who can forget Shaun Hill losing his helmet on the play but still going for the first down line. He showed his leadership and determination on that play. Grade C+
2nd start vs. STL (2-8) Win 35-16
15-20 213 yards 2TD 0 INT 1 Rushing TD142.3 QB rating
Hill only needed one half of playing time to torch the Rams for over 200 yards and 3 total TD's. Hill completed a pass to 7 different receivers and Frank Gore had 106 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground. It was the greateast half of 49er football in recent years as they went into halftime up 35-0. Grade: A
3rd start @ DAL(6-4) Loss 35-22
21-33 303 yards 2 TD 1 INT 100.9 QB rating
The 49ers had two drives end up stalling inside the ten yard line and they were forced to kick field goals. This made a big difference because Dallas then scored 29 points unanswered. Hill's numbers look good, but a good chunk of his yards and both TD's came in the 4th quarter when the game was already out of hand. The Cowboys were just a much better team. Grade: B-
4th start @ BUF(6-5) Win 10-3
14-23 161 Yards 1TD 0 Int 96.5 QB rating
Hill did a great job managing the game in the cold weather conditions. He made key third down throws and he did not turn the ball over. The 49ers burned the clock running the ball and the defense played great. The way the team played this game is the vision Singletary has for this team the upcoming season. Power running game and a good defense. It should also be noted that Patrick Willis had 14 tackles and a forced fumble. Grade B+
5th start vs. NYJ(8-4) Win 24-14
28-39 285 yards 2 TD's 1 INT 98.8 QB rating
Shaun Hill was excellent in helping the 49ers pull off their biggest upset of the season. He completed a pass to 10 different receivers and the 49ers had the ball for almost 40 minutes. Hill was efficient all game long and he far outperformed his counterpart Brett Favre. Grade: A-
6th start @ MIA(8-5) Loss 14-9
30-46 233 yards 0 TD 0 INT 77.5 QB rating
The 49ers beat the Dolphins in just about every offensive stat, except the one that matters. The 49ers nearly doubled the amount of plays the Dolphins had, and they gained 24 first downs. But they could not converte once they got inside the red zone. Hill only averaged 5.1 yards per attempt. Frank Gore's absence was missed, but the failures in the red zone was what plagued the team. Grade: C+
7th start @ STL(2-12) W 17-16
18-34 216 yards 2 TD 3 INT 55.5 QB rating
For three and half quarters, the 49ers looked worse then they did the enitre season. The could not get anything going and were down 16-3 to the pitiful Rams. Hill had thrown three picks and was almost benched. Hill threw his first touchdown with 4:03 remaining in the game. Then, Josh Morgan made a spectacular catch on a deep ball with 1:22 to play that looked like it was going intercepted. The 49ers somehow squeezed out a one point victory. Hill would have received an F- if I stopped grading before that first touchdown. Grade: C
8th start vs. WAS(8-7) W 27-24
21-30 245 yards 1 TD 1 INT 91.7 QB rating 1 Rushing TD
Hill completed a pass to 9 different receivers and the 49ers pulled off a last second win vs. the struggling Redskins. Hill led three 4th quarter scoring drives and the 49ers made their 2nd straight 4th quarter comeback. Singletary was given a long term contract after the game. the 49ers finished 7-9 and ended the season 5-2. Grade A-
Grade through ten starts: B
I think a B is a perfect grade for Shaun Hill. He has not been spectacular, but good enough to win games and he has been pretty good late in games. Hill still has never started a game early on in the season when it you need to start strong. In 2007 the team was far eleiminated from playoff contention when he came in and in 2008 the team was pretty much out of it. I think if he plays the full 16 games next year he can throw for around 3,200 yards and close to 20 TD's. Which is good enough in Mike Singletary and Jimmy Raye's run first scheme. The 49ers just need a QB who can avoid turnovers and give the ball to Gore.
Check back soon and leave any feedback.