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Duck season for ***** quarterback hopefuls??
Duck season for ***** quarterback hopefuls
John Crumpacker, Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, May 4, 2008
(05-03) 18:48 PDT -- After two days of practice, it's obvious Alex Smith and Shaun Hill are already in quarterback shape - for early May.
At the *****' full-squad minicamp, one of Smith's passes raised dust at the foot of his intended receiver while Hill threw one pass that looked like a wobbly duck in the throes of death.
Coaches would be concerned if these were September passes but as it is early May and the ***** are learning a new offense under coordinator Mike Martz, the quarterbacks have a free pass to work things out.
To be fair, both Smith and Hill have thrown some dandy passes throughout the four practices, with a 90-minute session this morning bringing the minicamp to a close. A medium-range out route to tight end Billy Bajema on Saturday indicated there's nothing wrong with Smith's arm.
How Smith and Hill (and to a lesser degree newcomer J.T. O'Sullivan) handle competition for the starting job will be of compelling interest this summer in training camp. Unlike the first three years of his career in San Francisco, Smith does not go into this season as the anointed starter.
"That's the abnormal thing, when you're given something," Smith said. "I was giving it my all then, I'm going to give it my all now. Shaun's going to do the same thing. I'm not going to worry about the rest of this. What I need to focus on is learning this offense."
Smith's ragged play in 2007, much of it because of his shoulder injury, along with Hill's surprisingly effective performance in three late-season games, have thrown open competition for the starting job.
"May the best man win," tight end Vernon Davis said. "I love both those guys. I think all three of those guys got what it takes."
The ***** showed their commitment to Hill when they signed him to an extension and gave him a raise after his contract expired last season. Now this former third-string obscurity, who had never thrown an NFL pass in five previous seasons, is in position to challenge for the starting job.
"It's been a very exciting time," Hill said. "Being able to play is phenomenal. They thought enough of me to bring me back. All you can ask for is a chance. It will make both of us better and ultimately the team. I'm going out there to try to be better. That's my goal. That's all I'm worrying about."
Healthy now, Smith has a chance to resurrect his career under Martz, who has a reputation for developing quarterbacks into championship-level players. The No. 1 pick in the 2005 draft begins anew under his fourth offensive coordinator in four years.
Noting he has a lot to prove, Smith said, "I've always felt like that. When you're the No. 1 pick, I don't know how you don't think that. This is a year to start over, wipe the slate clean with coach Martz coming in."
Smith said Martz is working with him on his mechanics, such minutiae as how he drops back to pass, his footwork, body posture, even where his eyes should be looking. Under Martz, quarterbacks are expected to "throw open" their receivers, meaning their passes should be thrown before the receiver comes out of his break.
"The last few years have been far different than what coach Martz teaches," Smith said. "I look back, you get frustrated, pissed off. I look back and there were some things I didn't do well. Man, I was stupid. I'm trying to break the habits of little things I picked up the last few years."
The most surprising thing about Hill's play last year was how comfortable and instinctive he looked with nothing on his resume to back it up. He simply looked like he knew how to play the position, whereas Smith in the past was guilty of trying to over-think the position and what he should be doing instead of just doing it.
"We have a great relationship," Hill said of himself and Smith. "We want ultimately what's best for the team. We're going to push each other. If there's anywhere in the league this could work, it's here. There's a long ways away before there's a starter."
The wild card in this mix is O'Sullivan, a UC Davis alum who played in five games for Detroit last season and starts out with a better working knowledge of the Martz offense than Smith or Hill.
"The most impressive thing to me is that both Shaun and Alex have been very positive towards the competition," coach Mike Nolan said. "They're both competitive and approaching it the way you would expect. They want the job."
Was that a Freudian football slip for Nolan to mention Hill's name before Smith's?
"I wouldn't read anything into it at this point," he said.
Re: Duck season for ***** quarterback hopefuls??
when the 40whiners face a line of Long,AC,Ryan and Little
its gonna be a case of 1st down Smith,2nd down Hill,3rd down any non transvestite they can find on the streets of san fran...
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