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When the news broke in early March about the No#1 overall draft pick in the 2002 NFL draft in David Carr coming to San Francisco in essence to replace veteran hard competitor Shaun Hill my temperature began to exceed the boiling point. Carr a Bakersfield native who played collegiate football at Fresno State and over the last two years as a back-up to Eli Manning on the New York Giants nudged Shaun completely out of the picture after exceptional sacrifices and service to our beloved franchise.
Saying goodbye to Shaun Hill in my opinion was hard to do. He represented what the consummate professional does when faced with unprecedented competition and embraces whatever opportunities that simply come his way. The un-drafted free agent quarterback out of Maryland joined the 49ers in 2006 after spending the boring four year tenure out there in Minnesota. As a 49er he played and started 16 total games over the next three seasons and accumulated a record 0f (10-6). His career in San Francisco came to an end with 322 completions in 522 attempts for 3,490 yards, 23 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He ended with a quarterback rating of 87.3%.
Shaun was the Mike Singletary branded kind of quarterback that was tough and gritty and could stand in there and take a hit on almost any occasion. He was the field master in turning the 49ers earlier on in the season into being a power-running team that emphasized running the ball first which catered to his West Coast style of attack he was accustomed to. Hill was named the starter at quarterback at the start of the 2009 season slightly beating out No#1 2005 NFL draft choice Alex Smith.
Everything was fine early on with the season as Shaun Hill registered a winning record of (3-1) but fell just short of (4-0) in a turning point game on the season; while on the road in his old hometown of four years back in Minnesota. It was Minnesota Viking wily veteran Brett Favre's last minute heroics in threading in a last minute touchdown for the victory. Two weeks later the San Francisco 49ers were blown away in a home game against the Atlanta Falcons where they were expected to win. Then while on the road to Houston the game again began to slip away from Shaun Hill's grasp compelling head coach Mike Singletary to attempt a spark with Alex Smith at the helm in which he performed better than the standard.
From that very point inside that road game in Houston up and until now the offensive identity of the San Francisco 49ers abruptly changed over to the aerial barrage that Alex Smith was able to display. Offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye and quarterback coach Mike Johnson saw something spark into a bonfire as they tweaked the offense to adapt to the aerial bombardment they became enamored with courtesy of Alex Smith who was very comfortable in the Urban Meyer style of offense as a shotgun artist of sorts. His arm strength and ability to rifle the ball down the field with literal ease cemented a growing belief amongst the coaching staff that this was the reincarnation of Alex Smith.
The allegiance amongst the players for Shaun Hill was most visible on a Pro Butkus award linebacker's twitter account that made comment to David Carr coming to San Francisco as "a waste of his time and that we have three quarterback's that are better then him." Patrick Willis made the comment out of frustration and loyalty to his brethren at the contested position as others did just not as fluently as he did.
The evidence of his disaster experience as the Houston Texans top draft pick is clear. At 30-years old, he maintains a 23-56 lifetime record as quarterback and has been sacked 265 times as well. It is inconceivable that he would be a better competitor then the Shaun Hill he is replacing. In my opinion it is a significant downgrade for Alex Smith to spar with on the practice field and it again establishes the notion that the front office is not analyzing this position fairly or with any sort of real consistency.
Shaun Hill has all the intangibles to play within our system because he is already experienced. He is thought of highly in the locker room by his peers and actually has a winning record as an un-drafted quarterback with the San Francisco 49ers. David Carr does nothing to inspire a fan at this present time with any sort of hope or a sense of forecasting the future. One of the most significant missing links inside our offense over the past seven years has been our quarterback position. A lot of time, energy and money has been spent to make Alex Smith into something we want, but it has been an exhausting experience to say the very least. Bringing in a David Carr as a legitimate backup to Alex Smith frustrates a lot of fans because we are at a crossroads with Alex Smith as he nears the end of his contract with us. We need someone capable of standing and competing with him toe to toe so as to best evaluate what he can add to his 2009 successes.
David Carr is reportedly bringing with him his current two-year contract that is worth $6.25 million and includes a $2 million dollar signing bonus. Again this is a similar contract that we signed Alex Smith to more than a year ago to remain with the 49ers. Obviously there are assets that are perceived to be there in David Carr by our coaching staff that currently we fans have yet to relate to.
Some say David Carr was fed to the wolves in Houston as he was made to be shark chum for some of the best pass rushers in the league because they knew they could manipulate the very porous offensive line that stood in there from day to day to help protect him and better their image and statistics within the league as they sacked him multiple times with ever pressing intensity. Gary Kubiak was hired by the Houston Texans after the 2005 NFL season he make Carr his own special project and promised better results. But as the season started and results were seen as unsustainable he let Carr go and traded for Matt Schaub. From here he spent a brief stint in Carolina and then landed on with the New York Giants.
Shortly after David Carr's signing as a 49er Shaun Hill was traded to the Detroit Lions for a seventh round draft pick. Hill will actually be reunited with Scott Linehan the Lion's offensive coordinator, who was the coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings for three of Hill's four seasons there. Hill will play the mentor and teacher to a newly drafted superstar quarterback in Matthew Stafford who the Lion's are excited about as they look into their future. Shaun Hill was drilled and questioned by sports columnists who attempted to make light of how he was treated in trading him to the Detroit Lions as a sense of lack of loyalty. He never cracked under the pressure and remained thankful for the experience he was allowed to have here in San Francisco. Mike Singletary said: "Shaun is the ultimate competitor and is also a consummate pro." I believe we owe him a sense of gratitude and well wishes for his future as a Detroit Lion.
I remain very skeptical as do others about David Carr. In my opinion Nate Davis is more of a viable option as the primary backup then Carr at this point. Only time will tell as organized team activities get underway and training camp nears its beginnings. Once again a lot is riding on Alex Smith to stay healthy and pick up where he left off in 2009.
Sources of Information: Mercury News.com, SF Gate.com, Inside Bay Area.com, NFL.com and my own personal analysis and opinion.