49ers Blog and Q&A

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

October 20, 2008
JTO escapes the hook; will start against Seattle

The JTO express will roll on, Mike Nolan announced today, because - and I'm paraphrasing here - subtract all the mistakes and J.T. O'Sullivan is doing a damn good job. "Right now ... I believe that for this football team that he is developing and will develop into a good quarterback," Nolan said. The mistakes, of course, have been what's been killing the 49ers since a Week Four loss to New Orleans. O'Sullivan threw two end-zone interceptions in that game and threw another end-of-half killer in the end zone Sunday against the Giants. Nine of his 10 INTs have come during the 49ers' current four-game losing streak.

What gives Nolan confidence O'Sullivan will eliminate those mistakes when all the empirical evidence says those mistakes have been building over the weeks? Practice. "When we go to practice, we complete a lot of balls, and that's a good thing." It should be noted that O'Sullivan's practices are mostly conducted against the scout-team defense, which is composed of guys like Marcus Hudson, Atiyyah Ellison and Eric Bakhtiari. Not exactly Jack Lambert and the Steel Curtain defense.

As for No. 2 quarterback Shaun Hill, Nolan said that O'Sullivan was better at getting the ball downfield. "I would say that Shaun is a safer choice at this time," which is code for Hill is better at short passes and doesn't have the arm to chuck it down field. The decision to stick with O'Sullivan shouldn't come as a surprise. Mike Martz has a history of staying with one QB through thick and thin, and O'Sullivan probably is better at running the offense Martz wants to run. The question is whether a high-risk, high-reward is best for the team at the moment ...

For the second straight week, Nolan essentially said that things will remain status quo. And for the second straight week, he fielded questions about his job status. He said he typically talks with Jed York about once a week but that he hasn't discussed his job status. Here are some more job-related quotes.

On his confidence level:
"I have no choice but to be confident. It's not a choice, it's the way it is. That's my job."

Why he should keep his job?
"Because it's my job right now and they basically gave me a job to do. I am the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers."

More on that topic:
"I think the proof is in the players myself. ... We don't have a divided house. We have a lot of trying times but we don't have a divided house.

Nolan also said that Josh Morgan will continue to start ahead of Bryant Johnson at wideout. Morgan dropped a pass for a potentially big game Sunday, but he was one of the few bright spots in the game.

None of the players injured Sunday is expected to be out for long but some could miss Sunday's game against Seattle. Nolan did not say which players were hurt the worst, although Michael Lewis and Allen Rossum appeared to be the most serious yesterday.

-- 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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