Mike Martz spoke today about several topics, including the progress Shaun Hill has been making, whether Chilo Rachal would start and how soon some of his injured receivers could return to the lineup. One thing he declined to talk about was the $20,000 fine he was hit with yesterday for criticizing the officials after the loss to Arizona. "I just won't discuss that," he said when asked if he would appeal the fine.
As far as Hill, Martz said that the quarterback struggled to pick up the offense in the offseason and even into the regular season. But he said Hill really benefited from watching J.T. O'Sullivan over the first six and half weeks. "He's further along than I would have expected. Ted's (Tollner) done a great job with him , too, when he wasn't playing." One area in which Hill has really surprised Martz is in how quickly he is releasing the ball. That is the biggest reason the 49ers have reduced their sacks allowed total over the last 2 ½ games. "That's why I'm a little surprised," Martz said, "You've got to really know what we're doing to do that. He's further along in that regard than I would have expected him to be."
Martz, however, is not satisfied with Hill's mechanics, which why he's been riding him so hard in practice. "He's not there yet. He's aways away with that. We've still got to groom him mechanically. Sometimes he's good but the consistency of his mechanics just isn't there yet. He's been doing it so long in a different way, sometimes that's hard." Martz said that the fact that Hill looks ragged in practices is a function of installing that week's game plan. Which is to say that practices look cleaner as the week goes on. "Wednesday was awful for Kurt (Warner), Marc (Bulger), Jon Kitna. Wednesday is not a good day. ... Thursday they look better and Friday they look really good."
He said there was no rift between him and Mike Singletary and that the seemingly heated exchanges television cameras pick up during games are isolated and often misleading. "He treated me outstanding. We see things the same. ... I told him the other day, it's fun to have him on the sideline because he's so under control. There's a real nice exchange going."
On rookie Josh Morgan, who has missed the last two games with a groin injury: "That was a pretty significant injury. I'm not sure we're going to get him back in the near future." Martz said he's been impressed with Jason Hill, especially Hill's wheels. In fact, he said that when Hill and Morgan are in the lineup, he might have more team speed than he had when he was coaching the Lions. Not bad for the future, huh?
And don't go writing Rachal's name into the starting lineup in pen just yet. Said Martz: "I'm not sure. We've upped his reps. There's a maturity aspect involved. I'm not sure he's ready."
- Matt Barrows