49ers: Despite Loss and Turnovers, QB Shaun Hill Gave 49ers a Chance to Win

Andy BenschSenior Writer INovember 11, 2008

Tim Rattay, Alex Smith, Trent Dilfer, Ken Dorsey, Cody Picket, Chris Weinke, J.T.O'Sullivan; other than Shaun Hill, that is the list of 49er quarterbacks since the departure of Jeff Garcia.

Not a single one of those quarterbacks showed the determination and resilience that Shaun Hill showed on Monday night against Arizona.

Tim Rattay had a few quality games when he was able to throw to a "decent" receiver in Terrell Owens.  But the reason the 49ers ended up with the #1 pick in the draft in 2005 was because the Rattay-led 49ers went 2-14 in 2004.  

Ken Dorsey, Cody Picket, and Chris Weinke; not much to say about this trio.  All you need to know is that on any other team they would be third stringers at best, more than likely on the practice squad.  Yet, all three of them were starting quarterbacks at one point or another for the 49ers.

Trent Dilfer was a solid, veteran back-up to tutor Alex Smith, but his play during Smith's injury was equivalent of an aging quarterback whose only Super-Bowl victory eight year's earlier was attributed to the defense.  

Of course there is J.T. O'Sullivan, the wannabe Kurt Warner, who would throw the ball up into triple coverage rather than hit the check down for a five yard gain.  His errant throws and stupidity in ball security led to his benching.

And finally I get to Shaun Hill. 

Now you may think Shaun Hill is just the same as the aforementioned quarterbacks.  A career third-string quarterback who has only found playing time because he is a member of the lowly 49ers.

He'd only had two career NFL snaps with the Minnesota Vikings in three seasons.  After a year in NFL Europe, Hill signed with the 49ers before the beginning of last season.  He won his only two starts in 2007 and is currently the starting quarterback for the 49ers.

Now against Arizona, Hill completed less than 50 percent of his passes, effectively threw four interceptions (only two were counted due to penalties) and a fumble. 

However, one of the interceptions was a desperate shovel pass that would have been on target if Gore had turned to make the catch.  And secondly, the fumble on the hand off attempt should have been called off-sides.  Adrian Wilson had his whole helmet over the line of scrimmage before the snap.

Take out all the statistics, the quarterback rating, the yards, the completion percentage, and look at the intangibles. 

Shaun Hill busted his butt on a quarterback draw on third-and-eleven.  He broke to the outside, and took a huge hit two yards short of the first-down marker.  The hit knocked off his helmet, but Hill stayed on his feet, and without his helmet, dove forward for the first down. 

The look on his face after that play was the look of a leader. 

The look of a guy coached by Mike Singletary.     

After throwing two fourth quarter interceptions that should have sealed the game for the Cardinals, Hill came back to lead his team into position for the winning score.  You cannot ask for more than that.  Yes, he threw some interceptions, and yes, he completed less than half his passes, but he put his team in position to win the game.

As sports fans, we can only speculate about the "what-ifs", but in my opinion, if Hill was given the ball on the last play, he would have thrown a game-winning touchdown pass.

If J. T. O'Sullivan had started that game, it would have been over at half-time.

Shaun Hill may not be the long-term answer at quarterback for the 49ers, but he ought to be the starter until they can groom another rookie quarterback to take over. 

After this season, draft a quarterback, and let him sit behind Hill for a full season.

It would be a great learning experience for the future franchise quarterback to sit behind an absolute gamer in Shaun Hill.