O’Sullivan set to succeed

Sep 1, 2008 at 12:37 AM

The following is an article I wrote for the Sacramento Union:

San Francisco 49ers' quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan has to be pinching himself right now.

O'Sullivan, 29, was born and raised a 49er fan while growing up right here in Sacramento. This Sunday, the 6-year NFL veteran will not only be making the first start of his career, but his childhood dream come true as well.

Having bounced around the league and the world during the course of his professional career, getting the chance to play for the 49ers had to of been placed on the backburner in favor of just sticking to an NFL roster. But now that he is about to lead the 49ers into their regular-season opener against Arizona at Candlestick Park this weekend, you'd think he would be completely ecstatic. You'd think wrong, however.

"I think if I stepped back away from it, it would kind of sink in," O'Sullivan told The Union after learning he was the starter nearly two weeks ago. "But right now I am trying to do everything I can to come out here with my preperation and my performance to deal with it. Growing up a niner fan I know what this position is to the area, so I'm excited."

He may say he is excited, but his actions are speaking way louder than his words.

O'Sullivan has shown an uncanny amount of poise and confidence since signing with the 49ers during the offseason. Those traits mixed with his solid performances throughout training camp this summer as well as the teams' preseason contests have earned the constant praise of team offensive coordinator Mike Martz, as well as head coach Mike Nolan. Having played in Detroit last season while Martz was the Lions' offensive coordinator allowed O'Sullivan to have a leg up in the 49ers' open competition at quarterback which also featured Alex Smith and Shaun Hill. So, when he stepped on the practice field in Santa Clara for the first time as a 49er this past spring, he did so without ever looking back.

"They (the coaches) told me that it was going to be a competition, and that is how I approached it," O'Sullivan said. "It is just a matter of playing as well as you can when given the opportunity, and go from there."

Certainly all his friends, family and fellow supporters in the Sacramento-area are proud of O'Sullivan, and are wishing him a great deal of success. One person who has never wavered in his support of O'Sullivan is UC Davis' head football coach Bob Biggs. Biggs coached O'Sullivan as a collegiate athlete until he was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the 6th round of the 2002 NFL Draft.

"I'm really happy for him, personally," Biggs said. "He persevered the last six years, and while he was always a good player he never got in a place to get a real legit opportunity. I'm exicted for him because he is finally getting his opportunity and is making the most of it."

Not enough can be said of the way O'Sullivan has carried himself en route to obtaining the starting spot at quarterback for the 49ers, but in O'Sullivan's case, he'd rather have not much said at all. Always very focused in practice as well as in dealing with the media, it has been noted that he has an arrogant persona about him, almost to the point of thinking he is a jerk. But Biggs knows why his former player acts like that.

"He has a dry sense of humor and a quick wit," Biggs implied. "He is just playing it really close to the cuff, and although he is very excited about winning the starting position, he feels he has a lot to prove."

With all of this being thrown on O'Sullivan's plate, Biggs has played more of a cheerleader role as of late than a coach when speaking to the former Aggies' star.

"We speak all the time, and I try not to give him too much advice," Biggs said. "I'm just being supportive of him. He is a 29-year old man now, and he knows what he wants and how he wants to do things."

But, it is not so much how he wants to do things as much as it is how Martz wants to. But with O'Sullivan being familiar with the system, it just makes the most sense for the team heading into the season.

"The one thing that's very important is, the offensive coordinator and position coach have to have a comfort level with the quarterback," 49ers general manager Scot McGloughan said in regards to the reasoning behind naming O'Sullivan the starter. "Especially Coach Martz in this system, he likes to be able to come in Week 1 with all four wheels turning and going. That's not the only reason he won the job, he won the job outright, but he gives us the opportunity to put in more offense for Week 1."

So, the question remains to be answered. Will O'Sullivan be able to take charge and lead this 49ers' offense?

"He's finally gotten the opportunity, and is a great fit in Martz' system," Biggs said. "He has a great skill level, his technique is solid and his mindset is strong. There is no reason to think he won't have success."
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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