The 49ers began the last decade with a question mark surrounding the quarterback position. Sure Jeff Garcia was the man at the helm, but given how 1999 went down I think plenty of people were worried about the QB position. In 13 games (10 starts) after Steve Young went down, Garcia was 225/375 (60%) with 2,544 yards, 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Garcia struggled enough early on that Steve Stenstrom got three starts of his own midway through the season. However, once 2000 hit, Garcia was the guy. He showed dramatic improvement that second season, and even though the 49ers had their ups and downs during his time here, Garcia turned into a very solid quarterback.
Following the 2003 season, the 49ers began their salary purge to clean up the cap mess that was strangling the franchise. Garcia was cut and thus began the now six year odyssey that has been the 49ers search for a franchise quarterback. In that time the 49ers have had a whole assortment of awful quarterbacks. Some were just plain bad quarterbacks (JTO), while others performed so atrociously that it was clear they should never have been an NFL quarterback (Pickett). Either way, we've had a whole assortment of quarterbacks in the last six years, most of whom now appear on this list.
I've actually decided to include every QB that started a game for the 49ers since Jeff Garcia was cut. One or two of them probably don't below on this list, but as I know somebody will have a complaint somewhere, I just decided to include every one of them in chronological order. Head past the jump to check out the contestants.
Tim Rattay (2000-2005): Given that I argued for Rattay as an honorable mention for one of the best draft choices in 49ers history, I would not have included him if I wasn't included every QB. Rattay wasn't anything spectacular, but given where he was drafted and the numbers he put up, I strongly believe Tim Rattay was no worst than a below average quarterback. And I'm sorry, but that just doesn't qualify for worst in my opinion.
In six seasons with the 49ers, Rattay completed 60.8% (356/586) of his passes for 3,941 yards, with 24 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. Those aren't particularly awesome numbers, but look at the talent had when he was starter. In Garcia's last season, Rattay did get a start with TO. However, once Garcia was gone, aside from Eric Johnson's one great season, Rattay got the likes of Brandon Lloyd, Cedrick Wilson and Arnaz Battle. Throw in a little Curtis Conway and Johnnie Morton, and you've got just a fantastic array of awfulness.
Ken Dorsey (2003-2005): Dorsey was a local product who made good at The U, leading Miami to a 38-2 record and one national title in his time there. Of course, coming out of college I don't really know of anybody who expected him to turn into much of a professional quarterback. The 49ers grabbed him in the seventh round of the 2003 NFL Draft, and in two seasons of play (2004-2005) Dorsey completed 54.1% (171/316) of his passes for 1,712 yards, 8 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
Although there weren't high expectations (similar situation to Rattay), Dorsey was definitely not as good as Tim Rattay at the NFL level. That doesn't make him the worst, but it's certainly something to consider.
Alex Smith (2005-present): Part of the reason for including all the quarterbacks since Garcia was because of a guy like Alex Smith. Obviously we can look first at the numbers. He was the #1 overall pick in the 2005 draft. Since then, Smith has completed 56.3% (660/1172) of his passes for 7,029 yards, 37 touchdowns and 43 interceptions. Just based on a combination of the numbers and the expectations, one could argue he's been the worst quarterback of the decade.
Personally I don't think so, but I'm a noted Smith apologist of sorts. I find myself curious to see how many people will go with Smith in this poll. While I'll disagree with those people, I can definitely see the arguments for voting for him.
Cody Pickett (2004-2005): Talk about your cult favorite. Cody Pickett spent most of his time with the 49ers playing special teams before injuries forced him into the starting lineup in 2005. In two games, Pickett completed 40% (18/45) of his passes for 195 yards, 0 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. I don't think anybody will soon forget his 1/13 for 28 yards performance against the Chicago Bears. For some reason that game has stuck in my head. It was a combination of that performance, the crazy wind, and Nathan Vasher's return of a missed field goal 108 yards for a touchdown to end the first half. What's all the more amazing is that the 49ers were actually able to trade Pickett to the Texans for a 7th round pick.
Trent Dilfer (2006-2007): Dilfer was brought in to be a mentor for Alex Smith, who had just completed his rookie season. Dilfer didn't take a single regular season snap in 2006, but was forced into action in 2007 when Alex Smith went down with a shoulder injury. Dilfer made 6 starts and finished 113/219 (51.6%) with 1,166 yards, 7 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. After years of working as a game manager, there really wasn't much of anything left in the tank. Late in the season, Dilfer went down with a concussion that would end his season and lead to the beginning of a new short-lived era....
Shaun Hill (2006-present): Generally speaking I would not have included Hill in this category because he really hasn't been the worst QB for the 49ers. I just don't see how one could justify picking Hill over a Pickett, JTO, or Ken Dorsey. Shaun Hill was brought in the same season as Trent Dilfer and spent the whole season as the #3 QB. Heading into 2007 nobody expected any changes until injuries took out Smith and Dilfer. Hill ended up playing in three games, starting two and finishing 54/79 (68.4%) with 501 yards, 5 touchdowns and 1 interceptions, and seeming to spark something in the 49ers. Over the course of three seasons, Hill is 322/522 (61.7%) with 3,490 yards, 23 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Earlier this season he lost his job back to Alex Smith and would seem unlikely to see the field again, barring injury.
Chris Weinke (2007): It's easy to forget that Chris Weinke actually managed 2 appearances, including 1 start, for the 2007 49ers. Shaun Hill suffered a back injury against Tampa Bay and Weinke closed out the game, followed by a start in the season finale against the Cleveland Browns. Weinke finished 13/22 (59.1%) with 104 yards and 1 touchdown. It was certainly an incredibly forgettable time.
J.T. O'Sullivan (2008): Speaking of forgettable times, I'd love to forget JTO's 8 starts, but that's just not gonna happen anytime soon. O'Sullivan was brought in after Mike Martz was named offensive coordinator, thanks to his work with Martz in Detroit for one season. That time gave him a head-start in learning the Martz offense and was enough to help him win the job in training camp. Those early weeks of training camp were a bit surreal. Shaun Hill was rested with some arm fatigue, in what seemed to be a rather poor attempt to get him out of the picture. Alex Smith had his chances but was eventually shut down for the season with continued shoulder problems. And that left us with the man of a pair of widely used monikers: Just Turnovers and J.T. O'Mulligan (no Just Touchdowns with the 49ers).
All I know is that the J.T. O'Sullivan era was a train-wreck. Sure the team was explosive, but it really was just bad times all around. JTO was 128/220 (58.2%) with 1,678 passing yards, 8 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Of course, what really stood was the 32 sacks and numerous fumbles. Technically he only lost 2 fumbles, but he coughed up the ball so many more times and had teammates recover the ball. All in all, it was atrocious.