The San Francisco 49ers, about whom I have blogged incessantly for years until last season and who are my remaining sports passion, are off to a remarkable 2-0 start. They are one of only nine teams in the 32-team NFL to do so. What's more, both wins have come within their division, which is a huge leg up for them. During Sunday's game, one of the commentators suggested this lead might already be insurmountable, proving how little he knows about the league. WTF?It is true that 65% of all the teams who started a season at 2-0 ended up in the playoffs. It is also true that last year, that trend continued a recent-years reversal as a tiny minority of 2-0 teams made it to the championships. Shaun Hill may be a better QB than I thought, though I think it's awfully early and I also think his 2-0 record is a lot less due to his slightly-better-than-mediocre performance than it has to do with the improved run-pass mix on offense imposed by Mike Singletary and his coaching staff. Without a star-quality quarterback or a polished defense, it's not likely any team makes it to the playoffs. Or maybe I'm just trying really hard not to get my hopes up this early in the season again.
by Dan Shafer •
In yesterday evening's pre-season matchup between the 49ers and the Raiders, Alex Smith out-shone Shaun Hill, I thought. The two are locked in a dead heat for the starter job and this was the second week the coaching staff had given both of them equal time behind center.Smith was 3/9 for 30 yards and had one interception (arguably not his fault). Hill was 3/7 for 20 yards. Neither threw for a TD. In the ridiculous world of NFL QB ratings, Smith ended up with an impossibly ugly 4.2 while Hill "earned" a 50.3 rating. But just watching the two operate the offense, Smith seemed more poised, he made better tough decisions, and he seemed more confident than Hill, who as last year's starter while Hill was injured should have the inside track. Clearly one pre-season game isn't all that meaningful; despite the desperate hype offered up by the TV broadcasters, this wasn't a "must impress" game for Alex. And although I evaluated him higher than the incumbent, it is certainly true that he'll have to do a lot better than be in a dead heat with Hill to win back the starting position.