Jason Hill: 'I'm ready to fly'

After a slow start to his career, a healthy Jason Hill has emerged during the exhibition season as a legitimate downfield threat in San Francisco's passing game. Here, in an interview with SFI, the second-year wide receiver discusses his role with the team this year and how the offense is responding to new starting quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan.

Q: You've made quite an impression during the last two preseason games. What's your approach now over the final two weeks leading to the regular season?
I'm feeling pretty confident and I'm feeling healthy again. I'm ready to fly.

Q: How important is it for you to be ready for significant action now in the passing game since top receivers Bryant Johnson and Arnaz Battle have missed so much time in recent weeks due to injuries. Do you see your role increasing because of that?
That's what I'm getting ready for. I'm getting ready to play a game. I think sometimes people call preseason not real games, but believe me, they're real games. Those are live bullets. You get your head knocked off out there. So I take pride in that, whether its preseason, regular season or practice. It's live bullets all the time. It's the NFL. So I'm preparing myself to play. I prepared myself to play last year, but unfortunately I had a few injuries and had a little setback at the beginning of camp with my groin. But I'm feeling healthy and now I'm just able to let it fly.

Q: What has all this time you've been getting lately with the first and second units in practice and in the preseason been doing for your game and your confidence?
It's been helping a lot. Any reps you can get helps, because this is a detail-oriented offense. So you get two work on the little small things, the details that coach (Mike) Martz and coach (Jerry) Sullivan preach to us. You get to work on that, and you get to work on it against quality guys. Nate (Clements) and Walt (Harris), you know, they're two of the best (cornerbacks) in the league. So you get to get some real work.

Q: Is there a feeling now that the receiver corps really need to get up to speed with J.T. O'Sullivan now that he's the starting quarterback, because several receivers have missed time with injuries and he's been working with so many different wideouts?
I think there's always that urgency, no matter what. There's just the urgency within yourself to pick things up even when you're doing great, to keep picking things up.

Q: Where do see yourself and your role fitting into the offense this year?
I'm still defining it. I think once those (injured) guys come back and they're playing some games, I think it will be more defined then, too. I'm trying to do all I can. But this is a team, so we're all going to fit together the way we fit together. I think my role will become more defined over this next week.

Q: What's it mean for a receiver who's expected to contribute this season to finally have the quarterback position settled with O'Sullivan as the starter?
It means a lot, just because we can rally around J.T. now. We don't have to wonder who is going to be that guy. But our role is still our role no matter if it was J.T., Shaun (Hill) or Alex (Smith). You still got to go out and do your job. You can't worry about who's throwing the ball. You just have to catch it when it comes and make the blocks when they need to be made. But it's good for team morale, because we can all rally around J.T. and let him know we have the confidence in him to get the job done.

Q: In that regard, what kind of confidence do you have in him as a receiver?
I've got a lot of confidence in him. He comes in the huddle and he commands our attention. On that touchdown pass I had the other day, he let me know he was coming to me, just make sure I get the proper depth. I did, and he put it there. That was a hell of a play by him scrambling out and taking a hit.

Q: On that 37-yard touchdown catch, you seemed to have excellent awareness of where you were on the field to round of the route and get open. How important is that aspect to your game?
It was pounded into my head by coach Martz and those guys, because I think we tinker with that depth three or four times. That depth was supposed to be 20, 25 yards going to 35 yards. So we were playing with that depth to make sure no matter what coverage we got we could read it and make a play.

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