The 49ers seem to be paying for all the quarterback health they enjoyed last season. Shaun Hill, who is undefeated as a starting quarterback this season, is questionable for Sunday's game in Cleveland. Hill is suffering from an array of injuries, the worst of which are the back spasms he suffered in the first half of Sunday's win against Tampa Bay. Hill also suffered bruised ribs and, of course, he still is dealing with a fractured forefinger on his throwing hand.
Hill sat out Wednesday's practice, giving way to Chris Weinke, who wasn't even on the team earlier this month. Weinke said his biggest task has been learning the language the 49ers use on offense. Today was his first day throwing to starting wideouts Arnaz Battle and Darrell Jackson. Coach Mike Nolan said he would consider elevating Drew Olson from the practice squad if Hill still is ailing tomorrow.
Starter Alex Smith was lost for the season earlier this month when he decided to undergo shoulder surgery while Trent Dilfer is dealing with the impact of a concussion he suffered in Week 14. Dilfer did say, however, that he intends to return next season. Hill was injured when he was hit from behind on a second-quarter scramble. The hit was hard enough that the 49ers tested to see whether his kidneys were functioning properly. (they are). Hill said he dealt with the injury through the second half but that his back stiffened Sunday night and was still in bad shape today.
Nolan said he will meet next week with the Yorks, a meeting in which he presumeably will learn whether he will remain with the team next season. ... Nolan also was asked whether Jim Hostler received too much blame for the team's early offensive struggles. Nolan replied that the blame could be spread "all around" this season but that the head coach, the quarterback and the offensive coordinator generally deserve the most blame for offensive shortcomings. "Certain people play a much more integral part in that. The coordinator obviously plays a big role in the effectiveness of the offense, so it's only right that a lot of that falls on his shoulders."
While he was speaking, I couldn't help but think of last year's defensive coordinator, Billy Davis. Nolan generally had very good things to say about Davis last season even though it was obvious that Nolan had taken over the coordinator duties by midseason. This year, of course, Nolan brought in Ted Tollner toward the end of the season to "assist" Hostler on offense. Read into that what you will ...
-- Matt Barrows