Sports Illustrated’s Peter King ranked the 49ers 28th in his most recent Monday Morning Quarterback column. Here is what he wrote:
“When Mike Nolan took over the coaching job here three years ago, what do you think he’d have said if you told him: “Mike, in the year that decides if you stay or get canned, there’s a good chance Shaun Hill will be your starting quarterback and Isaac Bruce your key receiving weapon?” Heck, Bruce was old when Nolan took the job. And I can guarantee you Nolan had never heard of Hill when he took over.
Strange days in San Francisco, especially with the arrival of Mike Martz to retool a horrific offense that scored in single digits in six of the final 13 games last year. Hill will try to beat out Alex Smith, the former first pick in the draft, and my guess is Nolan thinks Hill is better. To get into the playoffs looks like a 50-foot putt on an undulating green for the Niners.”
If I had been running the 49ers a couple years ago, I would have offered Norv Turner $6 million a year to remain the offensive coordinator. Did the 49ers offer Turner an obscene amount of money? Was Turner too motivated to be a head coach again to even consider staying on as an OC? I don’t know, but I would have offered him the farm in an attempt to maintain a superior amount of consistency.
Now, the 49ers ARE a mess, but they have some chips. Frank Gore is a stellar back. Vernon Davis has the ability to be a very good receiving tight end. Alex Smith and Shaun Hill have shown some potential, but which road will Martz lead them toward? I wish the 49ers would run the hell out of the ball with Gore, but Martz isn’t the “three yards and a cloud of dust” type. One thing that is notable is that the offensive linemen the 49ers drafted – Chilo Rachal and Cody Wallace – are scouted as better run-blocking linemen.
And then there is this quote from an anonymous NFL source in Pro Football Weekly’s ‘Audibles’ column: “(Niners QB) Alex Smith has had four coordinators in four years. If he stays healthy, he could have a great year. From a mental and athletic standpoint, he is as good as anyone out there.”
John Clayton of ESPN.com observed in a recent column that Smith looked better than Hill and J.T. O’Sullivan in minicamp.