Before I get into this I would first like to introduce myself. My name is Josh and I have been lurking in the background of this site for quite a while. I hope you all understand my writing as I tend to make sentences a bit run-on-y (?) I also write things that I swear make sense in my mind but may not really sound right. I hope u enjoy my first post :)
In this post I want to show the history of the 2 QBs in context of the seasons they played. Also, for the sake of this post, if something sounds ridiculous it's probably sarcasm.
In 2004 the 49ers had an abysmal season under second year coach Dennis Erickson and they went 2-14 earning them the #1 draft pick in that year's draft. That draft class was so ridiculously bad no other team wanted the #1 pick and the 49ers could not trade out of it. So they did the best they could and drafted Alex Smith from the University of Utah over Aaron Rodgers of UC Berkeley.
2005 was Smith's rookie season and as a rookie he played horribly scoring one touchdown and eleven interceptions. During this season he split time with Ken Dorsey and Cody Pickett. Smith in his rookie season had great offensive weapons. On the ground he had a future hall of fame running back in Kevin Barlow and for receiving targets Smith had big name weapons which included the likes of Arnaz Battle, Brandon Lloyd, and Johnnie Morton. In retrospect Smith's situation his rookie year sucked.
2006 was to date Smith's best year. He had a new offensive coordinator in Norv Turner who played into Smith's strengths. He also got more help from the run when Kevin Barlow, who was prone to tripping on air, was shipped to the Jets making Frank Gore the featured back. Smith made 16 TDs with 16 Ints threw for 2,980 yards and had a 74.8 quarterback rating. Not great numbers but pretty damn good for a second year 22 year old starter who was thrown into the fire. Those numbers were also put up behind the superior pass protection of Kwame Harris. His receiving weapons that year were Antonio Bryant, Arnaz Battle, Eric Johnson, and Vernon Davis. Looking back many fans site that Smith had a good set of weapons that year siting Bryant but when looking through that season you will see that many nice plays made by Smith were called back due to holding calls on Kwame Harris and yes he really had enough to make it worth mentioning. Throughout the season however fans were given hope as Smith seemed to be maturing into the franchise QB the team needed. The team finished 7-9.
2007 was a season filled with hope as the 49ers felt they were finally ready to take the next step. They had a maturing team led by a maturing QB and an offensive coordinator that made it all work... Then... the Chargers tempted Norv Turner over to the dark side of the force pretty damn late into the off season and pretty freaking abruptly. (to this day Turner is a worthless piece of crap as HC and will never amount to anything more than a good OC) With Turner's sudden leave the 49ers named QB coach Jim Hostler the new offensive coordinator. The 2007 season showed Hostler's genius as he called deep passes on 2nd and 2 and delayed draws on 3rd and 7. He had an intricate running scheme which contained plays such as dive left, dive right, and the already mentioned delayed draw. Regardless Smith was able to lead the team to a 2-0 start under Hostler and looked competitive against the Steerlers until a BOGUS call in which the referees overturned a fumble call on Vernon Davis and ruled it an incomplete pass when it was a catch and he was down. Watch the highlights from that game, it's ridiculous... Back on topic... Smith looked better right up until some Seahawks literally broke his arm off (shoulder separation). Dilfer stepped in and played like Dilfer. Smith was put in again by Nolan even though his arm was not moving right. This lead to horrible play by Smith and the bust label was stuck onto him. Smith was pulled and Dilfer was given back the reigns to the team for a very painful series of losses that could only be overshadowed by the next seasons series of losses. Ted Tollner was brought in and "assisted" (replaced) Hostler in coordinating the offense. Around this time Dilfer went down and Shaun Hill was given his first shot in San Francisco. Hill played admirably and won his first 2 starts against a defensively weak Bengals team and a Buccaneers team that had already clinched playoff berth. Again fans were given hope as Shaun Hill looked like the Cinderrella story QB that everyone needed.
2008 again started with some hope. The 49ers had a QB competition between the Alex the Bust Smith and Shaun the Season Savior Hill. Easy QB decision right? It was and the starting QB became **drumroll** J.T. O'Sullivan... JTO was a random QB that was brought in with Mike Martz the OC for the 2008 season. The competition was probably rigged and Martz system was never a good fit for the 49ers. Nolan just couldn't see it... Alright then.. JTO was named the starter and Hill the backup. What happened to Smith? His shoulder was actually not OK and he had to undergo surgery... again... and placed on IR. As we can all remember JTO overshadowed the losing streak of Dilfer the year before and literally threw games away. Nolan was eventually fired and Mike Singletary was named the interim head coach. Coach Sing proceeded to pull JTO and place Shaun Hill into the game. Shaun Hill, as he did in the previous season, proceeded to do damage control and salvage yet another season. Hill went 5-3 as a starter against what many site as the weakest second half schedule of the league. Hill was however seen again as the savior of the 49er team.
Now in the 2009 off season we have yet another QB Competition. Many fans believe that there is no reason for this competition and that Hill should be named the starter already. As we look through the past years, we can justifiably cut Smith some slack and "forget" about the 2007 and 2008. This makes the 2009 season Smith's 3rd as he is finally uninjured. This however brings back the questions Smith had surrounding him before the 2007 season. He seemed to be decent in 2006 but still jumpy and indecisive. Now Smith has an upgraded line and new offensive weapons so he can't be labeled a bust just yet until he shows that he can look better than his 2006 form. On the other side Shaun Hill has a large following in which fans site his intangibles and heart along with his winning record as starter. I don't doubt that Hill has heart and I won't question his ability to lead a team. Those however can only get a person so far. As far as wins go, wins are not a QB statistic and he also put up that 5-3 stretch against the weakest second half schedule in the league. I see Hill as a serviceable QB and game manager type who when needed can go into the game and move the chains. On the other side I see Smith as the unproven draft pick who showed sign of growth in his last uninjured starts. I don't see Smith as a first round bust and I don't see Hill as the hero who will have a pro bowl season and lead the 49ers to the Superbowl. At the moment they are both serviceable QBs who can at the least stay in the game and move the chains. Whoever wins the contest wins. The starting QB in game 1 will rightfully deserve that spot regardless of past accomplishments/shortcomings.
In all honesty I want Smith to win the contest because he has a higher upside than Hill and I feel he can redeem himself in the eyes of fans. If he doesn't then nothing is lost as Shaun Hill has shown he can move the chains when needed. I feel that if Smith wins however and shows he has grown we will have a pretty good QB situation. Smith will be the starter for while and Hill will be the backup we can always rely on when needed.
I also have some fun facts on Damon Huard. Damon Huard was undrafted in the 1996 draft and was seen as a back up until his 2006 season. Huard played for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2006 behind Trent Green. Green was injured and Huard had his chance off the bench. In Huards 10 games that season he scored 11 TDs and had 1 Int. He threw for 1,700+ yards and had a QB rating of 98.0. Green however started the next season and fans were upset when Green could not produce as Huard did. So a journeyman backup QB who was able to salvage a season when the starter went down and was strongly supported by fans but not given his chance the next season... Sound familiar? Well Huard got his chance later in the 2007 and 2008 seasons and played not so well scoring 11 TDs with 13 Ints in 07 and 2 TDs and 4 Ints in 08. He was released and is now our (maybe) 3rd string QB. I do not want this to happen to Hill. "This" being - a once called hero QB preforming like a back up should and then subsequently exiled from the city in which he was once the hope for- . Why do I bring this up? Just a fun fact to start conversation :D