EDITOR'S NOTE 10:40AM: Nolan acknowledged what he has made obvious: J.T. O'Sullivan is leading the QB race.
Well this is certainly getting rather interesting. After starting the preseason opener against the Oakland Raiders, J.T. O'Sullivan has worked with the first team in every practice since. Additionally, Shaun Hill has not played at all since the Raiders game. Maiocco put together a run down of every practice since O'Sullivan was more or less officially added to the competition mix. Including split sessions and taking over at any point in the practice, the time with the first team offense breaks down as follows:
- O'Sullivan: 8.5
- Hill: 2.83
- Smith: 2.67
When the media asked Mike Nolan about the QB rotation, Nolan said:
RE: Should we not read into the fact that J.T. [O’Sullivan] has gotten all of the first team reps since the game?
“As far as final product or do you mean today’s practice? Today’s practice you can read into it. Yes, for the practice.”
RE: Are [the quarterbacks] still rotating now? It doesn’t seem like there’s any rotating?
“There will be a practice this afternoon, there’ll be one tomorrow and we’ll see how it goes, alright.”
RE: Why isn’t Shaun [Hill] getting any snaps right now?
“Because the rotation that we have right now. That’s the way it is. That’s what we’re doing.”
RE: Will Alex [Smith] go with the first team in the afternoon [practice]?
“No. No decision has been made. I’m confident that we have three guys and we’re kind of repping them. That’s all I have to say on that.”
On the one hand Nolan clearly seemed annoyed with the QB discussions and tried to play it off almost like they were stupid questions. On the other hand, I think we'd be naive to not make some very big assumptions from this. While I might be incorrect, I don't think I'd be shocking anybody by concluding that J.T. O'Sullivan is the #1 quarterback right now.
If we see O'Sullivan starting this Saturday, the conclusion would certainly be validated. If Smith or Hill starts getting more first team reps, well I'll just be further confused.
One thing to keep in mind is O'Sullivan's background. He played under Martz in Detroit and it's probably safe to say he knows Martz's offense the best. That knowledge early in training camp would likely make it a bit easier for him to take the lead in the QB competition. As Smith and/or Hill gain further knowledge of the offense, will they be able to climb past O'Sullivan if he's getting all the #1 snaps?
What is my solution? For this Saturday's game against give each quarterback two series with the first team offense. The 49ers managed 6 drives in the first half against the Raiders. If you've decided Hill is out of the competition, then give each of Smith and O'Sullivan three or so series with the first team offense. Part of the value is seeing them with the same offensive weapons and protection. The other part is seeing them against the same type of competition.
Considering how poorly things have gone at times I'm reaching the point where I don't care if they name O'Sullivan the #1 guy. I like Smith and hope he can win the job, but now I just want a quarterback. I want one guy getting ALL the reps with the first team offense to build some chemistry. I think a little chemistry would go a long way to showing some improvements.
Whomever it's going to be, just pick somebody and be done with it. It's not like we're deciding between Joe Montana and Tim Rattay here.