One Down… 15 To Go.

It was the first battle in a season long war which should prove to be demanding and strenuous. The first battle in an attempt to return the San Francisco 49ers back to glory and the one which this team was looking towards the moment they knew they were going to be traveling to Glendale, AZ to take on their division nemesis.

The 49ers and Cardinals have faced off in the season opener four straight years now and over that time the teams have split the contests down the middle. Today might have been the best game of them all as it literally went down to the wire, ending as San Francisco defensive lineman Justin Smith flushed Cardinal quarterback Kurt Warner from the pocket and proceeded to throw him to the ground. Warner lost the ball on the way down and as it rolled out of bounds the clock ticked down to zero, 49ers win 20-16.

This game and the way it was won should be savored by both player and fan alike, however I am going to stand behind what I have been saying and thinking for weeks now. Shaun Hill is not the answer at quarterback, he is decent game manager. Nothing more, nothing less.

It will be when he begins to cost the team games with mistakes and attempting passes which he as has no chance of completing that I will be more ardent in making my opinion known. There were several passes in this game that were actually overthrown by Hill, two in the second half to tight-end Delanie Walker which should have been completed. I found it ironic in this game that Hill had any passes sail over his receiver’s heads at all. Oh he still produced his usual quota of throws which fell far short of their intended targets but there were times when it seemed to me that he was trying to put too much on his passes.

I almost have to believe that Hill stepped it up late in the game might have been because perhaps Singletary told him that unless he did so then Alex Smith was going to replace him. Perhaps that might be wishful thinking but I just don’t see Hill as being able to lead this team in the way that he needs to. I’m also not sure whether I see Smith as that man either but I do feel that we will find out one way or another some point in this season.

The running game certainly left something to be desired in this game and I have to say that I am somewhat worried about this offensive line. I understand that Arizona has a very good defensive front seven and they were focused on stopping the run all game however Frank Gore should have been able to find more daylight then he did and at least a few more holes to hit. At times I saw Gore go the wrong way or not see the break in the line to go through but for the most part the line simply didn’t do a good enough job in run blocking.

Play calling from offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye was for all intents and purposes predicable. Perhaps no more so then on a drive in the second half where Hill handed the ball to Gore on all three downs resulting in a three and out and forcing the defense to hit the field again after getting little rest. I have to believe that next week we’ll see a bit more disparity in the play calling, perhaps leaning more to the passing game.

The defense played a great game as they hurried Warner numerous times and even managed to sack the Arizona quarterback three times and linebacker Patrick Willis was his usual dominant self with a game-high 13 tackles and an interception. Cornerback Nate Clements also had an interception off Warner and the defense as a whole hit Warner eight times in the game.

This was the kind of team Singletary was hoping for, an offense that would manage the game when they had the ball and a defense that would not back down and would give it their all for a full 60 minutes. He got a little of the former and a lot of the latter. This defense could be a top 10 unit in the NFL this season.

All in all I would have to give the offense in this game a solid B- and the defense an A… they took on the defending NFC Champions and an offense that ranked fourth overall in 2008. They held Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin to a combined eight catches for 90 yards and a touchdown, stats which have become almost commonplace when these teams meet. Something I don’t think is being talked about enough was the play of Shawntae Spencer. The sixth year defensive back played well and was integral in helping to contain the Arizona offense.

The defense also wrangled in the Cardinals running game as Tim Hightower and Chris “Beanie” Wells combined for only 44 yards on 15 carries.

The 49ers home opener is next week against the Seattle Seahawks and while it should be another hard fought game, if the defense can come out with the same intensity then there is no reason that Singletary’s crew can’t start the season 2-0 against the most significant threats in the NFC West.

  • DeeKon52

    Let's go niners!! and yea Frank and Co. looked pretty sad but were good when it mattered at the goal line…WOOOOOO

  • Eleven11

    It might be all too possible that Nate Davis is our QB before the end of the season, but I hope it's due to injury, not due to losing lots of games. Not that I wish Hill would get injured, but it's the only way we can switch QBs without having a bad record.

    Either that, or Hill can just keep being awesome. An 88.5 passer rating isn't horrible, and he threw no interceptions. He also made a 50 yard pass. I think he'll be fine. He threw for twice as many yards this game than Brett Favre did. I'll keep giving him the benefit of the doubt for now.

    • NinerPaul

      God Damn!!! When are you guys going to give this guy some damn credit and stand behind this guy ….. He did pretty good despite some questionable play calling especially in the beginning. Come on Jimmy Raye lets mix it up with a little more pass and balance…. Hummm go figure, Shaun did pretty good when he gets in rythm like the last drive. I know they want to do the 60% run, 40% pass but really I feel like it should be more like 50/50……. Yeah and I ordered me a Shaun Hill jersey before this game because he represents the will to beat the odds even to get to this point.

      • A True Niner Fan

        Hey Im with u man..most of these posters on here are Scrooges that Baa hum bug and nit pick the small stuff and cant enjoy anything,..too bad for them

        • dosia510

          everytime i come on here i see these so called "niner fans" find something to bitch about! i cant believe dude was calling Gore a bitch!!!! WTF! i understand our offense needs quite a bit of tuning up but fuck thats why we got the D to help offense out. no doubt our D kept us in the game and when our offense needed to they came thru. SUPPORT YOUR FUCKING TEAM!!!!!

    • David Dejesus

      31 passes to 25 runs doesnt look like 50/50 to me……i dont know what math theyre teaching where ur from…..we want to be able to run it when we have to run it….thats what the coaches have said all along…..and if youre winning late in the game, which we hope to be doing, then running the ball to run out the clock will skew the numbers into more of a 60/40 ratio.

  • NinerPaul

    My complaint is that is with you James on the offense being to predictable. Unfare to put that much on both the defense and the QB. But come on Shaun not being the answer, then what frank gore after 30 yards on the ground is not the answer? Look there was no daylight cause the gaps were filled when the put 7 to 8 guys in the box, Because the offense was too predictable. And i was pissed when the ran the ball 6 straight time for two, 3 and outs after finding rythm in the pass game. I was like if we lose this game because of this I'm going to be pissed. Too concervative in the end.

    • David Dejesus

      great teams run the ball when they have to….if we want to be a great team we have to run the ball in those situations…now if we pass it and throw incompletions you will be that guy comin on here saying……..OMG WE SHOULD HAVE RAN THE BALL…………..WHY THE HELL IS JIMMY RAYE CALLING PASSES!!!!!!!!!!!!!! all offenses start up front….everything you do starts up front and the cardinals kicked are asses in the trenches… makes gore look bad it makes hill look bad and it makes the play calls look bad when they dont work because someone got blown off the ball and allowed penetration. bottom line the oc called every play that resulted in a win…. he must have been doing something right

  • A True Niner Fan

    did anyone else notice that the refs were trying to screw us yet again?……12 men on the field penalty an Singletary had to challenge to prove to them they cant see shit…the refs explanation was priceless he was so embarassed he fumbled almost every sentence….I think the league should make a ref do a chinken dance or something on tv for getting calls wrong and show what idiots they really are lol

    • dosia510

      that would be great to see them do the chicken dance !!!!!!!

    • DcNinerFan

      Yeah, that officiating crew was horrible. He didn’t flub up his sentences on just that play either. Remember the fumble? He tried to put it into San Fran territory initially, then had to walk it back to Arizona territory. He should be disciplined, or worse…

  • Montana2Rice

    To say that Hill played well down the stretch because of the threat of being benched is speculation at best. Yes, they showed Alex Smith with his helmet on, but until someone says that maybe Smith was going to play, your pseudopsychological BS is worthless. Talk about football.

    Shaun Hill was 18-31 for 209 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 1 fumble. He missed some throws [Delanie Walker was wide open down the right sideline], he was at times too locked on receivers, and he threw into tight coverage too often. So there were mental and physical mistakes. To say that he is 'not the answer' is A) totally irrelevant the day after the first game of the season when there are no better options on the team B) *&^%$#@ obvious and C) generally unhelpful. He averaged more than 10 yards per completion [not so common for 49ers QBs in recent history] and he threw no interceptions. In one of the biggest plays in the game, a 3rd down during the long TD drive, he called an audible at the line of scrimmage and hit an open Vernon Davis for a first down. That was a HUGE play and that was all Shaun Hill. He read the defense, knew Davis would be open, and hit him with an accurate pass. He's not Joe Montana, but he's not Jim Druckenmiller either.

    I know you're a lifelong fan like the rest of us, but you have to believe there's a middle ground between getting overly excited, setting yourself up for disappointment and being downright pessimistic. Get with the program, James Jones. The Niners aren't that good, but you gotta give credit where credit's due.

  • James

    Seriously? Give credit where credit is due? I'm pretty sure I did that throughout this post. I even went as far to say that Hill is a good game manager, which I believe he is. I gave much credit to the defense overall and I think the special teams was respectable as well.

    Hill though does not instill confidence in me or most of the fans of this team. He isn't consistent and while the team did win yesterday it was almost in spite of him. The defense cannot continue to hold up all season being placed in the situations it was in this game.

    It's not irrelevant at anytime. It hasn't been irrelevant at any other time in the Hill's career and it's not irrelevant now after the first game of the season. The fact remains that he is not the answer.

    • dosia510

      “He isn’t consistent and while the team did win yesterday it was almost in spite of him.”

      tell me this would you rather have consistency and lose or inconsistency and win? i agree hill may not be the “future” or the “answer” but what the hell else do we have to go with? its a little too early to draft tebow and a little too late to draft sanchez. look he is under center now, and aside any injury he is OUR guy this year so why not support him! i tell you i wouldnt give a shit if he threw 5 int’s and 1 td if that td was a game winner. the bottom line is we play to win. and “inspite” of what you say, i think more and more fans will have hills back this season.

      • James

        Time will tell… I believe that at some point this season Smith or Davis or both will play.

    • DcNinerFan

      Listen, I’d say he’s pretty consistent. 8 – 3 as a starter thus far, tends to make plays when it matters most, has the arm strength when needed, etc. He won’t be a glamorous passer, he isn’t the field marshal that Manning is, or a run and gun Young, but he is winning consistently.

      That said, no, he’s not the long term solution. As long as he wins, though, there is no need to freak out and predict a benching. I’d like to see Davis develop at some point, or use our 2 first rounders to get a good QB early in the draft next year (lord knows we won’t be in the top 10 this year).

      • James

        No we won’t be in the top 10 in the 2010 draft. Carolina might be though… something I wouldn’t mind seeing.

        I see us being somewhere in the mid to high teens this year so regardless those two picks in round one will be great to have.

        • seekret_sauce

          If Carolina does wind up in the Top 10 then we WILL be in their position because we have their #1 right?

          • dosia510

            yes seekrat we do.

  • Man our Defense is going to be sick this year! Undoubtedly, top 10 this season. Our secondary is better then what some people think. Shawntae is an emerging young talent that, when healthy, is easily a starting caliber CB in the league. Nate is one of the best in the biz, and proved that no preseason is going to take that label away from him. We just shutdown the best WR corp in the NFL 3 straight games. If our O is a more in sync and better play calling with improved Run Blocking on the O-Line, we will easily compete for the division! GO 9ERS!!!

  • Vinny

    hill is fully capable of taking this team to the playoffs, or a winning record (9-7). Honestly, hes better than kyle orton… and he had two winning seasons in chicago behind a good D & special teams.

    hill is that type of QB that needs a rythm, so this conservative run on first and second down should change going forward if they want him to put up better numbers. also, keep in mind that hill shared snaps with smith and barely got a chance to open it up in the preseason. He will be fine… give the guy the benefit of the doubt… garcia was the last qb with a winning record on the niners roster.

    im a fan, like most of us here, that would like to see alex succeed bc it would be good things for the niners. but i dont think any of us could see him winning that game for us yesterday. do i think he might be capable of winning those types of games? yes, but not without some seat time. this is not his year.

  • 9erbro

    I agree that there were some throws Hill should have made. Mainly, the screen passes that came up short to gore. I was all for benching him too just after half, however, that drive cemented to me that he is the quarterback that needs to be playing this year. 100% grade A moxie. The offensive line was pretty weak. I say try Pashos. Baas’s matador routine near our own goal line was also disturbing.

    + Defence
    -Every facet we got pressure, stopped the run and shutdown the best WR Duo in the league.
    + Vernon Davis played excellent
    + Josh Morgan did some nice things
    + Hill’s Poise

    – OLine no holes too may sacks
    – Playcalling reverse was terrible
    – Crabtree

    +/- Moran Norris seemed too get lost a bit out there, prolly because of the oline issues, but i remember him choosing the wrong block at times

  • 9erbro

    Also worst referee crew i have ever watched.

    Anybody else still wondering what

    “Indecisive Signal”

    on the Cards FG attempt was?

    I assume it was for trying to call out snaps to cofuse the line but that penalty is not listed in the NFL rulebook.

  • 49er4ever

    I hope we dont get the head referee next week that was at this game. He had No Clue!