As Mike Singletary puts it, in a perfect world, the 49ers would have a clear-cut starting quarterback and a proven commodity at the position. But the 49ers don’t live in that world.
As it stands, Shaun Hill would be considered the 49ers’ starting quarterback. What that really means to Singletary as he enters his first full season as head coach — and what he is looking for — is competition at the position.
“Going into training camp, of course I could say that Shaun Hill is out starting quarterback going into training camp, but what does that really say?,” Singletary said Friday. “It says he’s going to compete for the job. To me, at the end of the day, the most important thing, rather than saying Shaun Hill is the starter, is making sure that whoever we have at the quarterback position, that we have the best guy on the field that gives us the best chance to win. I think that’s the most important thing that’s going to come out of our quarterback situation.”
Singletary admits the 49ers have discussed bringing in a veteran quarterback in free agency, but the impression is the team feels comfortable with a competition between Hill, Alex Smith and J.T. O’Sullivan. Niners GM Scot McCloughan said negotiations to re-work the contract of Smith, the former first overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, are ongoing but described them as “very positive.”
Smith, 24, is still under contract with the 49ers.
“At his age, he still has a lot of good football ahead of him,” McCloughan said. “We have not seen his best football yet. Hopefully it’s with the 49ers.”
While both Singletary and McCloughan fielded questions that focused mainly on the 49ers’ quarterback situation, each also met with reporters following their news conferences, where the discussion continued. McCloughan said that no timetable has been set for discussions with Smith, who has told him he wants the opportunity to start again for the 49ers.
It looks like he’ll get that opportunity.
“The relationship is very strong, the feeling is mutual back and forth about the respect for knowing that we want him back and he wants to be with us. I feel really positive about that. It’s going the right direction, that’s all I can say.”