There’s no denying it, quarterback Shaun Hill wins games. They may not always be pretty, but when the game ends and the “W” is on your team’s side, does it really matter? He may win, but he likes to leave us fans in suspense. I’m referring to the interesting fact that Hill’s quantifiable flaw is his poor play in the 3rd quarter.
I’m not really sure what to credit this to, but Hill struggles immensely in the 3rd quarter. Last season, in his nine games played, Hill accumulated a respectable 87.5 QB rating. If not for his poor performances after halftime, it could have been even higher. His QB rating for the 3rd quarter in 2008 was 49.7. He only completed 55.7% of his passes, and it was the only quarter in which he did not throw a touchdown. After one game this season, the trend continues. He compiled a total 89.3 rating, but did not complete a pass in the 3rd quarter, giving him a 39.6 rating to bring down his average. These statistics leave me thinking, “What does Shaun Hill do at halftime?”
What could he possibly be doing to get him THAT thrown out of rhythm? I would say he might go off to smoke like in Lombardi’s days, but whenever I play a game of pick-up football, a friend of mine smokes a cigarette at halftime and he’s good to go right after that. Maybe he has a halftime ritual that causes him to lose his focus. Calling his family? Changing his cleats? Taking a nap?
The good news however, is Mr. Hill is a finisher. While his performance right after halftime is dreadful, he wakes up in the 4th quarter and delivers. In 2008, his 4th quarter QB rating was 101.3. In total, he threw more yards in the 4th than his 2nd and 3rd quarter performances combined, and threw for more touchdowns than all of the other quarters combined. Once again, we see Shaun Hill being consistent. Against the Cardinals last week, his lone touchdown pass came in the 4th. His rating was 108.5 and he completed nearly 70% of his attempts. I suppose this is a trade-off I’m willing to accept. I would much rather have him stink in the 3rd and then finish the game strong than vice versa. He’s not a choker and that is the best kind of player to have.
Mike Singletary could always bench Hill in the 3rd and play Alex Smith. Coincidentally, the 3rd quarter, statistically speaking, is Smith’s strongest period. Based on 2006, his last full season, Smith compiled a 3rd quarter QB rating of 100.8. He threw 6 TD passes against 3 INT’s and completed 68.4% of his throws. At this point I should clarify benching Hill for a quarter is just a joke. I don’t think a quarterback-by-committee will ever work, and I hope we never see one in San Francisco. I just thought it was interesting that Alex Smith’s best time to play is in Shaun Hill’s worst.
Perhaps Hill needs a bad quarter. Maybe he becomes complacent with his play and needs to be shocked back into action. As long as he is winning games, how he plays at certain points isn’t important. What is important this week is beating the Seahawks. I have been infuriated by multiple ESPN and NFL Network analysts predicting a Seattle win. Last week the Seahawks shutout the Rams in the Northwest. Wow, the worst team in the NFL, good job. Meanwhile, the 49ers upset the NFC champions on the road, and now come home to open Candlestick Park. That’s just their opinions, I know, and I’m not saying that everyone should be picking the 49ers to win, but don’t jump on the bandwagon for Seattle just because they had a big game versus the Lambs. With a victory on Sunday, our beloved 49ers can rest upon the top of the division alone for the first time since Steve Mariucci was fired. (Oh Moochie, how could they do that to you?)