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Say WHA?! O’Sullivan Could be the Starter in 2008

Mar 11, 2008 at 3:43 PM


I had a feeling this would happen sometime, but I thought it would happen sometime in camp. Yup, that's right, Martz just threw O'Sullivan's name into the quarterback mix for next season.

In an interview with Matt Barrows, Martz bluntly stated that O'Sullivan could be the starter, and might even have an early edge on both Alex Smith and Shaun Hill. On the topic, Martz said, "(O'Sullivan) is capable of being a starter in this league. He's not a reliever, if you will. He's not a backup. He'll take full advantage of (the competition). He's a very fierce competitor."

It really all makes sense. O'Sullivan was thought to be the third quarterback in Detroit, and he earned the backup role in short order. Why would he give up signing in Detroit as a #2 to come to San Francisco and be assured the #3 spot? I know that I wouldn't, unless my offensive coordinator let me know that the whole enchilada was wide open.

Martz obviously holds him in high regard. And as Barrows points out in his blog post, O'Sullivan certainly fits the mold of the underdog QB that Martz seems to be drawn to.

When it comes down to it, O'Sullivan has the tools to succeed in the Martz offense. The simple fact that Martz is giving him this opportunity attests to that. But will it be enough to take wrestle the #1 gig from Hill or Smith? If Smith wins out and O'Sullivan wins out the second spot (or vice versa) will the 49ers be willing to pay Hill $2 million a year to carry a clipboard?

It all sets up a very interesting situation. I could very easily see O'Sullivan finishing no worse than second on the team. He is versed in the system, has a relationship with Martz and has enough confidence in his skills to risk his second string spot for a shot at first string, knowing the 49ers already had two quarterbacks in the mix. That is some serious risk taking if you ask me.

Something else to notice is that the Mike Nolan as the "voice" of the 49ers is already being thrown under the bus. When was the last time you can remember a 49ers offensive coordinator muddying the waters like this? Before, if an offensive coordinator spoke to the media it was in support of a player, or in very general (read: non-harmful) way. Sure, the now deposed Jim Hostler had a weekly radio show but you could almost predict what the guy would say every week. It was always safe, always bland and sometimes factually incorrect.

We can read two things from this. One, Nolan hired an offensive coordinator that will be more vocal about the state of the offense and player battles, but we might have already known that.

The second, and perhaps more important thing is that nothing is certain at the quarterback position this fall, especially Alex Smith's incumbency. Smith certainly has the most to lose here, since he is the $50 million dollar man. This will certainly test his mettle (for those who find any way to knock Smith) but at the end of the day, it will only leave the 49ers in better shape. Now in year four of the Alex Smith project the team needs to know what it has in Smith. A starter, a backup, or a could-have-been.

Either way, Mike Martz and O'Sullivan will certainly press the issue and give us fans the answer soon.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


3 Comments

  • pasodoc9er
    3 good posts to which i wish to add a question, albeit it is putting the cart before the horse. Proposition: I have a great feeling about martz, having been a favorite of mine since early ram days. Question: If martz produces, as i believe he will, and if the O ends up top 8-10(top 25%), do you believe yorks will have a contract in hand for him as OC/' HC before or at end of season? If you don't believe they do, then any success martz has will be wasted as he moves on to OC/HC elsewhere. Do you think yorks are hopefully already planning on this eventuality assuming martz does stellar work, or do you think they would keep nolan on for yet a 7th OC in 7 yrs? Whatever your answer, this brings up a sore point with me, namely the HC should be the OC( think bellichek if you will, but it carries over in many other teams). Your thots?
    Mar 14, 2008 at 10:33 PM
    0
    Response: Response pending :)
  • Frank
    I love it! What a breath of fresh air, Mike Martz. He's going to turn this offense on its ear...and our players better be ready for that. His formula's actually pretty simple...buckle down, learn the offense, then produce. Those who do will be on the field...those who don't will either be on the sideline or looking for a job. That's the way it should be...we've settled for mediocrity for too long...and that's partly Nolan's fault, part circumstances (i.e. 4 OC's in 4 seasons). One thing's for sure...there's a new offensive sherrif in town and I'm ecstatic about it. As for O'Sullivan, it was definitely no accident Martz brought him to SF. I saw him play in NFL-E...and while it's not the NFL, you could easily see this guy's a player. More power to him...I look forward to a very spirited competition between our QB's. As you say, Oscar, it'll mean we'll have a better team...and that's what we all yearn for. You go, Mike Martz!
    Mar 12, 2008 at 11:08 PM
    0
  • ladale
    Good post Oscar. At this point with Mike Nolan being on the hot seat, and that hot seat about to go into combustion if they don't win right away, the coaching staff has to explore all options. The money they are paying Hill is not of consequence because they will not be around long to deal with the situation unless a strong starter is determined.
    Mar 11, 2008 at 9:56 PM
    0
    Response: I think you might be right. But lets say the team earns a wild card berth. Then what? If they play for this year what happens if they end up getting a next year?

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