San Francisco 49ers (2-0) vs. Minnesota Vikings (2-0)
This Sunday, the 49ers face their first opportunity to prove to the doubters that THIS TEAM is for real. Winning five of the last seven games last season despite a 7-step crazed Offensive Coordinator was no small feat. Mike Singletary is no ordinary coach, however.
For those of us who watched him play his entire career for the Bears, and who were privileged enough to see a true master of his craft at work, this was not at all surprising. Mike Singletary worked harder and demonstrated more determination than any player I have ever seen, and I've seen a lot including Jim Brown and Jerry Rice, two others who rank with Singletary in this category. It is their incredible powers of the mind, their ability to will things to happen in their favor, much like Tiger Woods in golf, that set them apart.
The Niners are 2-0, and it has been a pleasure to watch Singletary's mental brilliance as he deals with a variety of situations. He has everyone convinced that the Niners are three runs and a cloud of dust... He is so honest that everyone, especially the media, believes him. He WANTS the 49ers to be known as a running team. He wants the rest of the league to believe that Shaun Hill is barely able to throw a ball and that passing is an afterthought at best, something the Niners do only in desperation.
Poor Shaun is the most underrated and maligned QB in the NFL -- by far. No matter how well he performs or how much he wins, people have been conned into believing he has no arm strength (Noodle Arm is the nickname of choice) but he has heart. He has heart AND plenty of arm strength. Against the Cards, Hill lofted a beautiful 50-yard pass to Isaac Bruce, right on the money. What is the truth? Is he a QB that Singletary keeps in the closet because he is inept, or is it because Singletary KNOWS he has a winner -- a guy with character and heart. Hill has a Won/Loss record of 9-3 (6-0 at home).
Last season, Hill finished 12th in the NFL with an excellent passer rating of 87.5, ahead of QBs like Eli Manning, McNabb, Cutler, Edwards, Delhomme, Campbell, Garrard, Favre, Flacco, Collins and Roethlisberger, among others. Passer rating measures efficiency.
In just over half a season, Hill threw 64.2% of his passes for over 2,000 yards, an average of 227 yards per game. He threw 13 TD passes with 8 interceptions. That would translate to over 3,600 yards for a full season. Pretty good for a Noodle Arm.
When the 49ers ran into trouble against Arizona (ran might be an exaggeration), Hill stepped right up and led the Niners on a 15 play TD drive, throwing 12 times and doing a great impersonation of a QB who knows what's up.
Someone posted this comparison on a forum that, although Hill has only started 12 games, gives some insight as to the level of his performance thus far. This will raise some eyebrows:
Accuracy 1. Steve Young 64.3 comp %
2. Shaun Hill 64.2 comp %
3. Joe Montana 63.2 comp %
4. Jeff Garcia 61.6 comp %
Highest TD ratio 1. Steve Young 1 TD every 15.1 attempts
2. Joe Montana 1 TD every 19.0 attempts
3. Shaun Hill 1 TD every 19.3 attempts
4. Jeff Garcia 1 TD every 19.7 attempts
Lowest INT ratio 1. Shaun Hill 1 INT every 47.1 attempts
2. Jeff Garcia 1 INT every 44.3 attempts
3. Joe Montana 1 INT every 38.8 attempts
4. Steve Young 1 INT every 38.8 attempts
QB Rating 1. Steve Young 96.8 QB Rating
2. Joe Montana 92.3 QB Rating
3. Shaun Hill 90.1 QB Rating
4. Jeff Garcia 87.5 QB Rating
Keep making the world believe that Hill can barely walk or think as long as you can, Mike. I know how you think. I, too, was born on October 9.
No matter how you slice it, Shaun Hill has performed at a winning level as a 49er quarterback. The first two games of this season he has a passer rating of 87.9, has passed for 353 yards with a TD and NO interceptions. Most impressive is his toughness and determination. He's a no-nonsense guy who doesn't care about the limelight -- the perfect team player. He just wants to win. Reminds me of an old Bears linebacker.
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photo: Lacy Atkins, SF ChronicleCopyright @ 2009 All Rights Reserved