49ers Blog and Q&A

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

August 9, 2008
Q&A: Tangled web at quarterback

Question: Matt, Does Nolan really expect us to believe he is starting O'Sullivan b/c he hasn't seen him in a live game? This would imply that he is using the other QBs' past bodies of work to decide this year's QB competition. Doesn't this contradict the whole idea of "wiping the slate clean" (aka Martz) and having a true QB competition?
Stephen, Portland, Or

Answer: I had what is known as a "BS Meter" inserted in my brain a few years ago, and I have to admit that the needle was going wild when Nolan told us that earlier this week. The needle also was twitching when Shaun Hill was given a day and a half of rest for a "sore arm." In my opinion, these are examples of Nolan and Martz massaging this quarterback competition. It's safe to say that O'Sullivan has pulled ahead in the competition and that Shaun Hill has fallen back. But it would be nice to hear someone of authority actually say that. If we can sense the bs, the players certainly can ...
- Matt

Question: Hi Matt. I don't get it: Nolan says he's happy with the QBs, but Kevin Lynch at the Chronicle says the QB performance is the worst he's seen in 2 decades. What gives? The QB numbers each day have been pretty mediocre. Nolan was impressive in his candor in the 1st 2 seasons, but is he now spouting half truths to cover up the team's problems?
Peter, Halifax

Answer: The quarterback play definitely has been ragged thus far. But it's gotten noticeably better since the start of camp. I think the key will be the Aug. 21 game in Chicago. If none of the three quarterbacks is looking sharp by that point, this three-way competition will have been a bust.
- Matt

Question: Matt, thanks again for the great reporting! Is Martz really going to let Nolan have a say in who the starting QB is? Any idea what Martz thinks of any of this? Have you been able to get his (Martz's) read on the QB situation?
W Rivers, Helena, MT

Answer: Well, Martz is definitely the guy who made Shaun Hill "rest" his fatigued arm, which is what allowed J.T. O'Sullivan to enter the quarterback competition. So I think it's definitely Martz pulling the strings on the competition end of it. The big question is who will make the final decision. If you're a 49ers fan, you hope and pray that Nolan yields to Martz on that one.
- Matt

Question: Hey Matt- all I have heard about Balmer so far is that he hasn't impressed too much and that he would be a 2nd string guy seeing some snaps here and there. If this is the case does that mean the niners missed on draft day? Is he looking like a guy that can be a 3-4 d-lineman? It sounds like so far he is just a good backup. And, disregarding player's history and past performance, can you rank the WR based on overall performance thus far?
Glenn, Sacramento

Answer: Don't worry about Balmer. He's a big guy with an excellent motor. He just seems a little unrefined right now. He's got a great coach in Jim Tomsula, who is helping him hone his skills. The 49ers don't need to rush Balmer out there. They've got a good player, Isaac Sopoaga, playing ahead of him. As for the WR's, I would rank their training camp performances like this: Bryant Johnson, Josh Morgan, Jason Hill, Arnaz Battle, Isaac Bruce, Dominique Zeigler, Cam Colvin, Ashley Lelie. (Lelie and Bruce simply haven't practiced much).
- Matt

Question: We all keep hearing about Josh Morgan's impressive camp this summer but what about Jason Hill? Is he ahead of Morgan and Lelie on the depth chart at this point? How much will the niners use 4 receiver sets and what type of productivity do you expect from him this year?
Patrick, Montclair, NJ

Answer: Josh Morgan started ahead of Hill Friday night because he plays the X position and Hill plays the Z. Morgan is behind Bryant Johnson (injured) on the depth chart. Hill is behind Isaac Bruce and Arnaz Battle. ... I expect you'll see some 4-receiver sets but not as many as previous Martz-coached teams. That's because Martz has better tight ends than he's had in the past. Don't worry about Hill, he's looked very good in camp ...
- Matt

Question: Besides signing LB Takeo Spikes, are the 49ers interested in making any other transactions this off-season? Is there anybody else on their "radar"? (Steve Smith/Lito Sheppard)
Kyle, Santa Barbara

Answer: I was told the other day that Spikes is still very much on the radar. Are there any other players? I'm sure there are. The 49ers typically make some roster additions but they are more along the lines of Atiyyah Ellison than Lito Sheppard.
- Matt

Question: Why wasn't Frank Gore more involved in the practices against the Raiders? By your descriptions it was Foster going with the first team. What's up?
Mike, Mishawaka, IN

Answer: He's getting the Tomlinson treatment. That is, the 49ers are making sure Gore doesn't get hurt.
- Matt

Question: Matt, can you give us some words about Darrell Green and his induction into the HOF?
Danny, Sacramento

Answer: When I was little, we had a basketball hoop set up in the driveway. Darrell used to come over and shoot hoops with me and my buddies. (We must have been 12 or so). Darrell is, like, 5-9 but he could dunk. We used to plead with him to do some cool dunks, which he was reluctant to do given that, you know, he was a pro football player and an ankle/foot injury would have been catastrophic for the entire Virginia-Maryland-D.C. population.

One day it was just Darrell and I shooting around. I went in for a layup and at the last second decided to whip a hard pass back to Darrell. Except he wasn't looking and the pass - as hard as I could throw it - hit him square in the face. So he grabs his face and I'm thinking, "Oh, crap. I just broke Darrell Green's nose!" At the very least, I figured he would be extremely ticked off - who wouldn't? - and that he'd yell at me. He didn't. I could tell he had to stifle some anger and he did. He shook it off and continued shooting around as if nothing had happened. (I guess I've always felt guilty about that. I feel so unburdened. Thanks!)
- Matt


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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