The 49ers will have questions entering training camp, one includes the direction they will go with who will be their guy to take snaps and guide the team this season.
The San Francisco 49ers appear to have a big position battle in training camp. Why is it so big? It is who will start at quarterback for San Fran. Last season, the 49ers were ranked 22nd in offensive scoring behind JT O'Sullivan who started nine games. He threw for eight touchdowns and eleven interceptions and struggled during that span for the most part. The 29 year old quarterback was signed by the Cincinnati Bengals over the offseason. This wiill leave the battle to Shaun Hill who also played in nine games last season, former first overall pick Alex Smith and veteran Damon Huard.
When Shaun Hill took over last season, you could see a signifigant difference between him and O'Sullivan. Hill threw for 2,046 yards tagging on thirteen touchdowns which is more then his eight interceptions. His 62.8% of completions and 87.5 QB rating was also pretty convincing that entering this season, he could be favored for the starting position entering camp. The 49ers went 5-2 in their final seven games with Hill as a starter so why not favor him in the starting role? There are questions about him being full time starter for a full season as he has never done it in his career at the age of 29.
There is also a chance former first overall pick Alex Smith could get the start. Yeah, remember him? The hyped up quarterback that would guide the franchise back on track. Not so much, Smith has had a rough start to his career and injury has greatly effected that. Smith was sidelined all last season due to an injured right shoulder, which he needed surgery to repair. It has been tough for Alex no doubt. His nineteen touchdowns and thirty-one interceptions in thirty-two career games played reflects that. Part of it was he did have a lack of production in his first few years as quarterback. As a rookie, he got thrown around but tried to hang in there. Dispute this, maybe the 49ers shouldn't give up on him quite yet. Smith is still only 25 years old and has plenty of football left in him if he can stay healthy. His health is key for him to turn around his career and be a potential starter once again in San Francisco.
During the off season, the 49ers were out on a mission to look in depth at the quarterback position. They did so by acquiring thirteen year veteran Damon Huard. It has been an interesting career for the 35 year old quarterback as he has had to fight for a starting job his whole career. So this must come as no surprise to him he is in yet another quarterback battle. His best year was with Kansas City in 2006 when he threw for eleven touchdowns and just one interception with a QB rating of 98. Huard also managed to throw for 1878 yards in ten games played. This was after he took over after a struggling Trent Green went down after taking a vicious, season ending hit against the Bengals. Damon has definitely earned his respect over the years as a starter and backup. Does he have any gas left in the tank to win the starting job in San Francisco? It doesn't seem very likely but it is possible.
I predict it will be Shaun Hill's battle to lose. After ending the season on such a strong note, coach Singletary should keep that in mind. He is the kind of coach that rewards his players for an effort such as that. It will definitely be interesting to see if Alex Smith can revive his career if he does win the starting job.
About the Author
Written by Zach Arce