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Smith or Hill? Nolan’s Job May Depend on the Choice

Shaun Hill


Alex Smith or Shaun Hill? That’s the biggest question facing the 49’ers this season when it comes to who will be the starting QB come September. It’s also a question that head coach Mike Nolan hopes to have settled early before the team gets into the heat of summer and training camp. The coach, who himself is on the hot seat in 2008, recently spoke about the position and his desire to get it solved early.

“At this point I’m hopeful, but I won’t hold myself to it” Nolan told the Sacramento Bee. The coach did admit that the decision on who to start could easily go back and forth, and from the sounds of it he won’t likely have that decision made as early as he’d like. Smith is trying to get his career back on track as the teams first pick a few years ago. A lot has been made of the strained relationship between he and Nolan, but the coach contends that the issues are behind them.

As for Hill, he came on late last season and steered the Niners to two late season wins. He has a lot of upside, and the team was convinced enough in him to sign him to a deal this past offseason. If the team does decide to go with Hill over Smith, it may be the sign that the former first pick in the draft may be out the door. The prediction here is that Smith gets the first go-around in new offensive coordinator Mike Martz’s offense, but that the leash on him will be short with Hill peeking over his shoulder.

Bottom line is it could be a decision that makes or breaks the head coaching tenure of Nolan. If he makes the right choice and the team turns around, it could be like last years decision in Jacksonville where Jack Del Rio dumped Byron Leftwich in a surprise decision at the end of training camp for David Garrard. The wrong decision? Nolan could be on the unemployment line before the end of the season if the team stumbles.

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