Yesterday Mike Singletary, Shaun Hill and Alex Smith discussed the quarterback decision. Today Jimmy Raye laid out his thoughts on the QB decision and its effect on the offense as a whole. Given Raye's supervision of the offense as a whole, I think this makes it all the useful to hear.
I would like to point out that Raye made a comparison I've made here before (not that he's reading!):
Shaun came out of the end of last year as the front runner in the deal. It is like the champion, you have to knock him out to get the crown. You can’t go fight a draw and expect to unseat the guy.
I think that's absolutely true and that's what played out in this competition.
Raye also made a comment about the role of the QB in the offense and made no bones about it (and certainly not surprising any of us):
This deal is 21. This ball park is going to be run by No. 21 [RB Frank Gore]. The guy that’s running this ship at the quarterback position, and for both of them, that is why the competition was what it was. It was never going to be that the lead dog in this race was going to be the quarterback. The bell cow in this operation will be No. 21. The quarterback’s job is to make sure we get that done and play within himself and make the plays available to him.
If anybody was confused about that, it really can't be any more clear. The way most of us look at it, the quarterback is still definitely going to need to be able to make some plays. The running game can be great, but with no legitimate pass threat, defenses will stack the box against Gore. So Shaun Hill simply needs to be able to keep opposing defenses honest. Having him settle in as the starting quarterback for two preseason games (and the accompanying practices) will hopefully lead to improved chemistry with the receivers, and really with the offense as a whole.
Raye had plenty more to say so check out the transcript when you get a chance (after the jump). Apparently the team is meeting with Jim Brown tonight. I definitely like how Singletary is mixing in old school guys to show the team how it is. Interesting stuff.
Post-Practice – 08-25-09
San Francisco 49ers
On what naming the starting quarterback now does for the offense:
"It is not so much of a relief for me, but I think it brings some semblance of closure for the offense that they can identify now who will be getting the snaps and reps in practice and who will be leading them in the game. As far as it goes for me and my preparation, we will continue as we were before because basically, during the time we were in this competition, both of those guys were both starters."
On the quarterback competition:
"It was a fair, great competition. It was a competitive deal and I think both guys handled themselves well during the process. Shaun [Hill] ended up getting the call to be the starting guy, but I think Alex [Smith] well represented himself in the competition. In the end, the decision to name Shaun the quarterback was due to the fact that the competition was basically even. It never extended itself one way or another, and he was the guy we decided to go with."
On why he chose Hill as the starter:
"It wasn’t any one thing. It was a combination of all the things that are necessary that we were looking for to play the position – taking care of the football, not turning it over, managing the game, leadership qualities, the response of the team to the player. It was all of those things, which both of them did very well. Shaun came out of the end of last year as the front runner in the deal. It is like the champion, you have to knock him out to get the crown. You can’t go fight a draw and expect to unseat the guy."
On the chemistry that will develop between Hill and the rest of the offensive starters:
"I think that is a plus. The indecision and the doubt, the apprehension that was going on, I think this brought clarity to that. Football players are unique in that if they are allowed to, they would like to have it be somebody else. Now that it is decided and it is clear, I think all the other people who had some thoughts, linemen, backs, receivers or whoever it was, all those people who had some thoughts or some anxiety, it now takes a burden off them that they can go do what they do knowing that position is solidified."
On how Hill’s personality fits into his offense:
"I don’t think that is a true statement. I think Alex has the right personality. Shaun has a little more maverick in him, if you will. He has that ability with the other players, that he has their confidence. I think the fact that he has that innate trait of being able to play and adlib spontaneously was a plus for him."
On whether the playbook will be tweaked to better fit Hill:
"No. This deal is 21. This ball park is going to be run by No. 21 [RB Frank Gore]. The guy that’s running this ship at the quarterback position, and for both of them, that is why the competition was what it was. It was never going to be that the lead dog in this race was going to be the quarterback. The bell cow in this operation will be No. 21. The quarterback’s job is to make sure we get that done and play within himself and make the plays available to him. It wasn’t from the beginning to tailor it to so we would see the quarterback and do what his strengths were as our lead. That wasn’t the way it was."
On whether Hill has any sort of leeway to make suggestions in the offense:
"That’s what we just talked about. That is Shaun’s opinion and that’s the little bit of maverick in him. It’s like I tell them, it’s democratic, but it’s not 50-50. I’m the last word. He has – all of them have, because they’re professional football players, they don’t have to accept everything that you tell them – they have the ability and they can question and ask why, or ‘Can we do this different?’ or, ‘Can we handle this different?’ But, at the end of the day, we have a democratic process, but it’s really no 50-50."
On whether the deep pass can help the run game and Frank Gore, and how Shaun Hill handles that aspect of the game:
"I think we’ll learn more about that as we go along because of our lack of continuity. But, what will help 21, as you just mentioned, is our ability on the perimeter. And, if you want to stack it up and give us the opportunity to get the ball over the top, we will take advantage of that, and I don’t think that those kinds of throws don’t require the kind of precision of the passing game, of the drop-back passing game. You have a little bit more leeway when you can throw the ball off the run-action passes or the play-action because you’re featuring the runner, as was exhibited on Saturday night against the Raiders, playing off of that style of football of being able to run it and playing off of that will give you some opportunities in the passing game you wouldn’t otherwise have that would require the kind of timing and precision that you do in a drop-back passing scheme."
On when he will make a decision on the third quarterback:
"Well, I like what [QB] Nate Davis did in the game the other night. Now, he had a very limited package because he hadn’t had, obviously, that many reps in the game. I like what Damon Huard brings to us in terms of his veteran ability and leadership. He’s been there, doesn’t need as many snaps to get prepared to play. So, that process, we will make a decision on going forward, but it hasn’t been decided as of yet."
On what the rushing performance against the Raiders says about the offensive line:
"I’m ecstatic about it. I’m a little guarded, but optimistic about it because you don’t normally do that. You don’t normally do that. You don’t run for 275 yards in a game. That speaks well of both of those units that were in there. I thought Eric Heitmann was exceptional in the game. He played, since I’ve been here, he’s played outstanding, the center. And up until the goal-line play that Adam Snyder got nicked on, he was playing well, and the young kid Glen Coffee played well. We like that. Obviously, when you do that, it gives you a little bit more of a swagger. It sells the things that we’ve been preaching about, flat-back and hat speed and hard-hat and hands and being physical and hitting them in the mouth. And there’s evidence that that happened, so now it’s not as hard to keep demanding, asking, teaching and demanding that now because they have something to look to that was successful."
On the 55-percent third-down conversion rate:
"Hallelujah. Hallelujah. I’ll take that and not play if we could go 55 percent third-down completions. That has been good for us. I hope that continues. We do a nice job, and most of those have been in 7-plus or 8-plus situations. But, it all has to be tempered with the fact that it is preseason, but the execution, you can’t deny that has been good in that part of it. So, we’re pleased with that."
On where Glen Coffee is in grasping the offense:
"It’s really, he has had an ability coming in, and maybe it was the style of offense or the system that he played in at Alabama, but he was very adaptable quickly. His word-association was very good, so he could paint the picture a lot quicker than most rookies can. The thing that was evident from him from the beginning that most college backs don’t have was he had an innate knack and ability to pass protect early on. The physical-ness of which he does it transcends the same way that he runs the football with the rugged style. So, his adaptability early on, for a rookie, has been exceptional. Now it’s going to step up in pace, the speed will get up another notch as the regular season starts, but I don’t think there will be any fall off from him."
On what he hopes players get out of hearing Jim Brown speak tonight:
"Well, Jim is back from my era and probably, arguably, the greatest running back that ever played the game in the National Football League. I think similar to what they see or what they have been exposed to, in terms of accomplishment in this game and preparation and achievement that they have seen from the head coach, I think now you get to see another individual who has accomplished the same kind of things – has been a leader on and off the field. I think it will be tremendous from an exposure standpoint for our guys to see that it’s OK to dream and that these things are possible because they see it in the flesh in the form of the coach, the head coach Mike Singletary, and a great Hall of Famer like Jim Brown."