Alex Smith vs. Shaun Hill

Ryan FridayCorrespondent IMay 19, 2008

When I received an email from Zander asking me to do an article about the quarterback controversy going on with the 49ers, I thought, "what quarterback controversy?"

I'm serious, what controversy?

There's only a controversy when a former starter is threatened by a backup who has proven himself to play just as well or even better. We usually see this when the starter is injured and hasn't been playing that well, and the second-string QB finally gets his chance to shine. So let's look at some possible QB controversies around the league.


Tampa Bay

They've got more quarterbacks than most high-school quarterback camps. Though Jeff Gracia seems pretty consistent, meaning he's not losing games with bad quarterbacking, but neither is he throwing three-TD, 250+ yards per game. Hard to do that when you don't have T.O anymore.

And who else is there? Luke McCown, Brad Gradkowski, and Chris Simms. All quarterbacks who have started at least one game, and all played not excellently, but well enough to to be able to compete for the job.

But who will probably start? Yes, the guy that has the most experience and has won the most games, and (sort of) took Tampa Bay to the playoffs, Jeff Garcia. So no, there is no controversy here. What's the most any of the other quarterbacks can do during training camp? Preseason? Teams like to win, and not gamble by testing the other quarterbacks.



Similar to the 49ers, only we're not talking about a first overall pick but a 10th overall pick. We've seen Matt Leinart play somewhat inconsistently, and the guy that threatens his job isn't a Shaun Hill, who has won two games, but a guy who is a Super Bowl champion and two-time MVP. I'd say that's a controversy.


Green Bay

Again, maybe. We have Aaron Rodgers, some guy named Craig Nall, and newly drafted Brian Brohm. Aaron Rodgers has played only one game for the Packers, and in that one game, he did exceptional.

However that's exactly the point—one game. He still needs to do a whole lot more to prove himself and take the Lambeau spotlight.

So there's Brian Brohm—why this draft pick many asked? To remind Rodgers that his job isn't secure, and that he must try extra hard? Or does Green Bay expect Rodgers to fail, and then they will groom Brohm, and should he have an excellent traning camp and pre-season, he'll take be the one taking the snaps?

Yes, it's a possibility. With the lack of experience (other than watching Favre play) and the potential greatness Brohm has shown (even with the unfortunate senior season he had), either one can take the job. So yes, this is a quarterback controversy.


Though you might say this is almost what the situation is with the 49ers. However, I'm biased, and you also know I'm an Alex Smith fan. Even though he's played a lot more games then Aaron Rodgers, and more importantly, he's demonstrated to us how much worse he can play than Aaron Rodgers has been able to, but he's still got it.

He's got it, and I think the 49ers have 55 million reasons why they should start him. Shaun Hill won two games. And he won them because, with him, the offense was actually getting positive yards. However, we've got to take in account to Alex Smith's injury, and the fact that the offensive coordinator was no good. I know we've said these things so many times before, but that's the deal.

If it were different, where Alex Smith still did bad under the same offensive coordinator for four straight seasons, and no shoulder injuries, and Shaun Hill was an experienced QB who not only won two games but played exceptionally well, (everyone believes he in fact did play exceptionally well, but honestly anything would be exceptionally better than what Trent Dilfer and Jim Hostler were doing) then there indeed would be a controversy.

I'm not saying Alex Smith doesn't need to work hard for the job in training camp. If Alex Smith gives us a great look this summer and through preseason, he WILL be the starter because San Francisco has to. For me, winning is important. However, what a team invests in is equally important. Our lovely owner John York has invested in Mike Nolan, and did not fire him after this season because ge knows Mike Nolan isn't the reason to base the bad season on. Though we all know that this is probably Nolan's last chance.

Faithful is believing, we all saw in the 49er season-ticket commercials. Our owner still has some faith in Mike Nolan, and Mike Nolan still has faith in Alex Smith. Shaun Hill could have a great summer training camp too, but will not start if Smith does so as well. And my faith says Smith will do well this summer and that he will start. So no, there is no controversy here. 

Oh, you're probably saying, "what about J.T Sullivan?"

So I'm saying, " What about him?"