When the 49ers go looking for next season’s backup quarterback, Shaun Hill’s name should top the list.
Yes, that Shaun Hill, the guy who started 16 games in scarlet and gold from 2007-09. The guy currently backing up Teddy Bridgewater in Minnesota.
I can’t think of a more fitting reunion.
You remember Hill’s 49ers, right? Those were the 49ers under the Two Mikes (Nolan and Singletary), languid, lamentable teams that never finished above .500 and extended the franchise’s eight-year playoff famine.
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Somehow, though, Hill managed to go 10-6 as starting quarterback. His efficient but pedestrian play allowed the 49ers to pile up meaningless wins, (they went 4-1 over their last five games in 2008 and 3-1 over their last four in ’09) making the final records palatable and sending everyone falsely contented into the offseason.
Trappy days are here again.
The 49ers have their 2015 version of Shaun Hill. His name is Blaine Gabbert. They have their 2015 version of Nolan/Singletary. His name is Jim Tomsula.
The 49ers have their 2015 version of Hill. His name is Blaine Gabbert. They have their 2015 version of Nolan/Singletary. His name is Jim Tomsula.
What about CEO Jed York? He’s back to being Jed York … before he had the brilliant idea to hire Jim Harbaugh.
The 49ers are 2-2 since Colin Kaepernick decided to have surgery on a torn shoulder no one knew was injured.
That puts them at 4-8 overall, with grand designs of adding to that victory total Sunday against the 2-10 Fighting Manziels.
With remaining games against the equally woeful Lions and Rams, there’s every reason to think these plucky 49ers could finish 6-10. Or even (gasp) 7-9.
How Shaun Hill would that be?
Instead of a putrid 3-13, which would’ve pressured York to do a thorough flushing, the 49ers are setting themselves up for a comfortable stay at the Mediocre Motel.
We’re not in a rebuild. This isn’t a rebuild situation. This is a reload situation.
49ers general manager Trent Baalke in December 2014
No other NFL team would’ve promoted their defensive line coach to head coach, much less as a successor to Harbaugh. (Bet Michigan regrets that hire, huh?)
Now it’s all but certain Tomsula will be back for a second season. If you’re a 49ers fan who thinks that’s a positive development, well, enjoy those high school-ish play designs and late-game punts while trailing by two touchdowns.
Gabbert definitely will. His $2 million contract for 2016 is cheap for a backup quarterback, much less a starter, and the fifth-year reclamation project recently received Joe Montana’s stamp of approval.
Besides, the 49ers won’t have much choice. Hard to see Kaepernick return (he’s due $11.9 million if on the roster April 1), and this late-season respectability march all but ensures they won’t be drafting high enough to select college studs Paxton Lynch of Memphis or Jared Goff of Cal.
That assumes 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke would use a top-10 pick on quarterback. Not when there’s a lineman on the board.
Gabbert is actually one of Baalke’s better acquisitions. When the 49ers acquired the No. 10 overall pick in 2011 for a sixth-round pick in 2015, most everyone thought Jacksonville got the better end of the deal.
Credit Gabbert for exceeding everyone’s earthworm-low expectations – and to the 49ers coaching staff for developing him. There’s no question the offense has looked better (by that I mean closer to an actual NFL offense) with Gabbert under center.
89.5 Blaine Gabbert’s QB rating, which would rank tied for 20th in the NFL had he enough pass attempts
But let’s not get carried away. Aside from that final pass in overtime against Chicago, Gabbert has been more steady than spectacular. His quarterback rating of 89.5 would rank 20th in the NFL (tied with Matt Hasselbeck) if the 26-year-old had enough attempts to qualify.
You might say Gabbert’s been serviceable. Kind of like another backup-turned-starter from the team’s recent past.
The 49ers ought to skip any pretense and make “serviceable” their new slogan.
Why strive for excellence when it’s so much easier to settle for mediocrity?
Sure would be nice to hear from upper management, except York and Baalke have been conspicuously silent since both made offseason statements that seemed odd at the time but sound utterly foolish now. And President Paraag Marathe has been banished to the soccer pitch.
No, Jed, there is absolutely no comparison between the Warriors’ hiring of Steve Kerr and your hiring of Tomsula. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
And no, Trent, this isn’t a “reload situation.” The 49ers are in dire need of a full rebuild, all the way down to the ball bearings.
The 49ers are in dire need of a full rebuild, all the way down to the ball bearings.
But since York and Baalke avoid interviews, at least the on-the-record sort, it’s left up to Tomsula to be the voice of the franchise.
Here, give it a listen:
“Yeah, (linebacker Michael Wilhoite’s) got an ankle, what was that? It was an ankle, was it a high ankle? I’m not sure. He’s got an ankle. They are looking at it. We are going to look at it again today to see exactly where he’s at. He’s got an ankle.”
Thanks for the clarification, coach.
So there you have it. The 49ers have found a coach and quarterback to carry them into 2016, and possibly beyond. They won’t be terrible. Nor will they be challenging the Cardinals or Seahawks for NFC West supremacy any time soon.
Ah, mediocrity. Fans of the 49ers ought to recognize this state of ordinary, because they experienced it not that long ago.
San Francisco 49ers at Cleveland Browns: 10 a.m. Sunday on KMPH (Channel 26.1)