49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

July 10, 2008
Nolan: QB starter (hopefully) determined by third preseason game

Just got off a conference call with Mike Nolan, who spoke about his recent trip to Afghanistan. There'll be more -- a lot more -- on that later. As far as the 49ers and their ongoing quarterback battle, Nolan said this: Alex Smith and Shaun Hill will continue to share first-string snaps as training camp opens. They'll both start one preseason game. Based on that, Nolan hopes one will emerge as the leader in the competition and that that quarterback would start the all-important third preseason game in Chicago and be the opening day starter.

J.T. O'Sullivan's role will be similar to what it was in minicamps and OTAs. He won't get a lot -- or any -- repetitions in team scenarios but will be waiting in the wings in case one of the other quarterbacks falter.

Nolan also was careful to say that the even when one quarterback emerges as the leader it is "not a locked-in deal." That is, that quarterback will not be able to breathe easily and expect to be the starter Weeks One through 16. And that's the oh-so-fine balancing act that Nolan, Mike Martz and Ted Tollner must handle this season. They have to keep their starter uncomfortable enough to want to continue to improve week after week but not so paranoid that he is afraid of making mistakes and losing his job. Will it work? I'd be interested in reading your thoughts ...

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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