Trent Dilfer on Thursday looked as if he had survived a bomb blast. He was just emerging from a woozy fog from when he was leveled on Sunday and his arm and hand were covered with bandages from when he was “cleated” by a defensive player. “I’ve had nightmares with my hands this year,” Dilfer said. As he was saying that, Alex Smith was in an Alabama hospital recovering from surgery to repair a shoulder that essentially was ripped from the collarbone.
It’s been a bad year for quarterbacks in San Francisco, and if you look at the sack statistics you’ll see why. The 49ers have given up 46 sacks and are on pace to set a franchise record in that dubious category. They gave up 53 sacks in 1998. If they don’t tighten their defenses over the next three games, they’ll allow nearly 57 this year.
Will Shaun Hill – already dealing with a broken index finger that’s the size of a Ballpark frank – suffer the same fate? Well, he seems to be better equipped to handle porous protection than his predecessors. Hill can move – he was a track star in high school – and most importantly, he has a quick release. That’s becoming a more and more important attribute in the pass-rush heavy NFL and it’s something that regular starter Smith doesn’t have. I wonder if, as Smith recovers from shoulder surgery over the next few months, he’ll use that opportunity to shorten his delivery.
Chad Johnson is a little like Santa Claus – the guy loves to keep lists. A few years ago, Johnson became famous for keeping a hit list of sorts of the cornerbacks he would be facing in upcoming games. Nowadays, he lets the fans decide whether he has gotten the better of his opponent. The flamboyant receiver has a Web site www.trashtalk85.com that allows fans to vote whether he was covered or not. With every vote, 8.5 cents goes to Feed the Children, an international hunger-relief organization. The money came from donations made by Degree Men antiperspirant as part of its partnership with Johnson. On Tuesday, Johnson presented an $85,000 check to Feed the Children.
Speaking of good deeds, here’s something that unfortunately got brushed aside by all the Nolan-Smith drama this week. The San Francisco 49ers Foundation – the team’s robust charitable arm – announced that 2007 was its biggest year ever. The foundation reported that $1.5 million will be distributed in grants and contributions this year throughout the Bay Area, the largest amount distributed since the foundation’s inception in 1991. Maybe John York isn’t the Grinch everyone makes him out to be …
David Peart, the 49ers' VP of sales and marketing, has left the team. Peart, if you'll recall, had the uneviable task of trying to sell tickets and stave off television blackouts following the horrible 2004 season in which the 49ers beat only one team -- the Arizona Cardinals. Peart did it, thanks in large part to the "Faithful" ad campaign that last year won the coveted ADchievement Award for Overall Excellence. Peart also oversaw the open training-camp practices and the draft-day parties that have become so popular with 49ers' fans. These days, however, Peart must have felt like Sisyphus, the guy who was eternally tasked with pushing a giant boulder up a hill only to watch it roll down again. After all, how can you ask fans to remain "Faithful" when that faith isn't rewarded? Team spokeswoman Lisa Lang said the 49ers are close to announcing Peart's replacement.
-- Matt Barrows