OK, not entirely. I just thought I'd go for the cheap eye-catching title. Shaun Hill did manage to look downright solid at the helm of a 49ers offense that has truly re-defined what a crappy offense can look like.
Now that I've got all sorts of free time, I think I'll spend either tonight or tomorrow breaking down the film from the game to better assess Shaun Hill's performance. But for now, the numbers show 21 of 28 for 197 yards, with a passing and rushing touchdown. While I don't think there's a quarterback controversy, I do think the potential emergence of Shaun Hill as a halfway decent quarterback option would be of great benefit to the team and to Alex Smith in particular. Smith was handed the starting job from Day 1 and while I think he is a disciplined young man who can handle the responsibility, a little competition would probably be good for him. On the season, Shaun Hill 43 for 55 (78% completion percentage) for 378 yards, 2 TDs and a rating of 107.4. But let's be honest with ourselves. The numbers against the Vikings are misleading because the touchdown drive came when the Vikings were playing in a cushion with a huge lead. At the same time, Hill put up similar solid numbers against a Bengals defense that was NOT playing with a cushion or a big lead. I'll have some more informed analysis in the next day or two. I will say that after just watching his post-game interview on the NFL Network set, he's managed to at least get the cliches down pat.
Aside from Hill, it seemed like just about everything was working out. The Bengals receivers made some plays, but the 49ers corners seemed to be up to the task of simply containing the trio. Throw in the receivers actually catching the ball and everything seemed to come together for one night. I honestly think this was the best performance by the 49ers this season. The first two wins were ugly on offense. The third win over Arizona was solid on offense, kind of ugly on defense. This win over Cincinnati was a very solid defensive effort and the offense managed to move the ball and make things happen.
As for the controversial call to go for it on fourth and one? At the time I was surprised by the decision. They ran a statistic showing that Nedney set the record for most consecutive FG makes under 50 yards (which is an active streak). The Bengals showed how explosive the offense is moving down the field and almost getting the tying touchdown. At the same time, I understand wanting to just end it right there. If they convert, there would be 6 minutes left in the game and even if they still only end up with a field goal, they move the clock probably under 4 minutes at the very least. Also, Jason Hill would have caught that if not for Jonathan Joseph getting a hand in on the ball. It was actually a solid pass, but better defense. Personally, I go for the field goal, but the defense had bent but not broken to that point. It was not the absolute worst situation in the world to go for it.
NOW, let's get to what REALLY bugged me about this game, and I notice bugged some of you:
I've had the NFL Network since I upgraded to digital cable last year. I understand some people don't have it and there has been quite a bit of controversy because of the cable rights issues. However, the biggest issue I see with the NFL Network is the announcing. I don't want to exaggerate, so I'll just say that Bryant Gumble is the WORST PLAY-BY-PLAY ANNOUNCER EVER! He bores the life out of people and really doesn't seem to know enough to justify his role as an announcer.
I have no problem when Chris Collinsworth is the color man, and I certainly enjoyed the Thursday play-by-play guy (his name is escaping me right now). But Deion Sanders is an idiot and while Faulk wasn't a moron, he is definitely not the greatest analyst in the world. But I want to focus on Prime Time. He might be a great cover corner, but aside from that he's a fool. In case you forgot, Shaun Hill's performance doesn't mean anything because he was facing the Bengals. In case you forgot, the Bengals are not actually NFL players, so any performance against them must obviously be taken with a grain of salt. Also, late in the game there was a discussion about the Patriots having the #1 pick of the 49ers. Maybe 10 or 15 minutes later Deion made mention of the fact that even by losing the 49ers were "winning in the draft." I would like to hope he was talking about the higher picks later and not the first rounder we don't have.