Shaun Hill: Defending the 49ers Quarterback

Tom AndoContributor IMay 6, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO - DECEMBER 28:  Quarterback Shaun Hill #13 of the San Francisco 49ers passes the ball during the game against the Washington Redskins at Candlestick Park on December 28, 2008 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

When I tell the ladies I like chick flicks, I get a response of "aw, that's cute," followed by a cuddle and a lifetime placement in the friend zone.

Funny thing is, I get a similar response when I tell people I am comfortable with Shaun Hill as the quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers. People tell me, "oh how cute," give me a pat on the back and never take me seriously again.

Well, it's time I defend myself with the ammunition of substance, and I don't mean the chick flicks (even though The Princess Bride was fantastic).

I'm talking about Hill.

If you were told your team could get a quarterback still under 30 with a career passer rating of over 90 and a winning record of .700, you would take him in an instant, right? 
If you aren't a New England Patriots or Indianapolis Colts fan, you probably answered yes. So the question remains, why are people so turned off by Hill?
Is it because he wasn't highly talked about by Mel Kiper coming out of Maryland in the 2002 NFL Draft? It's not like undrafted quarterbacks can't be successful in today's NFL.
Some notable undrafted starting quarterbacks include Tony Romo of Dallas, Jake Delhomme of Carolina, and Kurt Warner of the Cardinals—not exactly bums.
Between them, they have piled up seven Pro Bowl appearances and three Super Bowl appearances, including Warner's victory in Super Bowl XXXIV.
And don't forget former 49er and recently signed Oakland Raider Jeff Garcia, who has four Pro Bowl appearances himself, three of which donning a 49ers helmet.
Some say Hill only piled up stats in 2008 because he was playing under pass-happy offensive coordinator Mike Martz. In eight starts, he threw for 2,046 yards, 13 touchdowns (against eight interceptions), and ran for two more.
In a full season, Hill would have thrown for about 4,100 yards (fourth in the NFL in 2008), and 26 touchdowns (sixth in 2008).
Now, you can thank Martz for the stats if you want (even though he had a 5-to-1 touchdown to interception ratio in 2007), but at the end of the day, it's not Hill's type of offense, yet he still excelled in it.
This season, Hill should flourish under a run-first, manage-the-clock type of system under new 49ers offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye.
In 10 games as an NFL starter, Hill is 7-3 (the 49ers were 5-17 with other quarterbacks starting in 2007 and 2008), including a 5-0 record at Candlestick Park.
He is the first 49ers quarterback since Steve Young to have a winning record as a starter and in six of his nine appearances last season, he posted a QB rating of over 90 six times. 
Hill doesn't have to be the quarterback of the future for the 49ers—the soon-to-be 25-year-old Alex Smith is still the answer if he gets the chance—but the fact of the matter is that the team responds to Hill and wins with him under center.
He will battle Smith for the starting job in camp, and will have new weapons in wide receivers Brandon Jones and first round pick Michael Crabtree, along with Pro Bowl running back Frank Gore, and bruising tailback Glen Coffee.
Not to mention, the 49ers will also be returning future Hall of Fame wideout Isaac Bruce and emerging receivers Jason Hill and Josh Morgan.
In the meantime, San Francisco will face continued criticism and questioning from supposed NFL experts. But let time be the judge of Shaun Hill.

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