Niner of the Week

Quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan is SFI's Niner of the Week for his performance in the 49ers' comeback 33-30 overtime victory against the Seattle Seahawks.

Sunday standout: In his second NFL start, O'Sullivan became the first San Francisco quarterback in 61 games to post a 300-yard passing performance when he completed 20 of 32 passes for 321 yards and one touchdown with 13 of his completions going for first downs. In posting a 106.4 quarterback rating and committing no turnovers against a defense that sacked him eight times, O'Sullivan continually rallied the 49ers from deficits of 14-0, 17-6, 20-13 and 30-27. O'Sullivan was masterful and consistent in the pocket much of the afternoon, completing 11 of 16 passes in the first half to keep the 49ers in the game and then 9 of 16 passes in the second half and overtime to pull out the victory. O'Sullivan had five completions of 20 yards or more and finished with tremendous totals of 10.0 yards per pass attempt and 16.1 yards per completion. O'Sullivan brought the 49ers within 17-13 late in the second quarter when he hit receiver Bryant Johnson on a quick slant for a 3-yard touchdown pass. O'Sullivan set up that score with a 63-yard pass to Isaac Bruce on the second play of a quick four-play, 80-yard drive. O'Sullivan had a 25-yard pass to Johnson earlier in the second quarter to begin a 10-play, 70-yard drive that ended with a field goal that cut Seattle's lead to 14-6. After the 49ers tied the score in the third quarter, O'Sullivan went to work with consecutive completions of 19 and 13 yards to Johnson to spark a four-play touchdown drive that put the 49ers ahead 27-20. With the 49ers trailing 30-27 in the fourth quarter, O'Sullivan hit Bruce for a 30-yard gain on a third-and-14 play to keep the drive alive and move it into Seattle territory, then scrambled for a 16-yard gain on third-and-8 to set up a field goal that tied the score. In overtime, O'Sullivan stood strong in the face of a seven-man rush and calmly hit Bruce behind Seattle defenders for a 33-yard gain on third-and-7 that might have been the play of the game. O'Sullivan later had two more completions on the drive to set up Joe Nedney for the game-winning 40-yard field goal. O'Sullivan also finished with 32 yards rushing on four carries.

Season to date: O'Sullivan ranks sixth in the NFC and 12th in the NFL with a quarterback rating of 96.3. In two games, he has completed 34 of 52 passes (65.4 percent) for 516 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He is averaging 9.92 yards per pass attempt, a figure that ranks third in the NFL. Twenty-two of his 34 completions have resulted in first downs and he's tied for third in the NFL with eight completions of 20 yards or more. His 321-yard effort is the seventh-best in the league so far this season, and he ranks seventh in the league in passing yards. O'Sullivan leads the NFL with seven completions of 25 yards or more and also ranks second on the team in rushing with 33 yards on six carries.

Need to note: O'Sullivan is the second quarterback to rally the 49ers back from a deficit of 14 or more points since Jeff Garcia led the team back from a 38-14 second-half deficit to a 39-38 victory in a NFC wild card playoff game at the end of the 2002 season. Tim Rattay led the 49ers back from a 16-point deficit in an October victory over Arizona in 2004, and Rattay's 417-yard effort in that game was the last time a San Francisco quarterback threw for 300 yards in game before O'Sullivan's outburst against the Seahawks. Now playing for his eighth NFL organization, O'Sullivan already has thrown more regular-season passes in two games with the 49ers than during his previous five NFL seasons combined. In two stints with the Frankfurt Galaxy in NFL Europa, O'Sullivan ranked second in the league in quarterback rating (91.9) in 2004, then earned co-MVP honors after leading the league with a 103.9 quarterback rating in 2007.

O'Sullivan says: "My mindset is (to) try to play the position exactly as they ask me to play it. It's been a long enough process for me. I've gone through good ways to do it and bad ways to do it, and I just think the best way to do it is to try and play the position exactly as you're being coached, not try to do too much. But, at the same time, make good throws that they're asking you to make. Make the reads that they're asking you to make, just make good decisions, manage the game, all the things you hear the clichés about quarterbacks doing. It's just a matter of getting an opportunity to do it. I'm just trying to improve, just trying to move this offense in the right direction, and try to go out there and execute the offense exactly how coach Martz is teaching us. I don't know if I felt a big leap from Week 1 to Week 2. It's just a matter of us getting better and understanding exactly what he's asking us to do and being able to go out and do it. (Now) I'm going out there trying to win games. I'm excited about the first win. I'd like to go out there and win every week. Hopefully, we can get on a little roll here. We're moving in the right direction, but we're far from where we want to be."

Coach Mike Nolan says: "He executed the offense well, he's extremely competitive, he's confident, he's resilient, he's got an ability to make plays and he's a very disciplined individual – all those things. He's a competitive guy that wants to make a play."

Receiver Bryant Johnson says: "He's a commander out there. J.T. takes control of the huddle. The guys look up to him and expect him to take over and lead us down the field."

Looking forward: Just two weeks into the season, O'Sullivan already appears entrenched as San Francisco's starting quarterback, particularly with Alex Smith – the three-year starter O'Sullivan beat out for the starting role this summer – out of the season with a shoulder injury. O'Sullivan will continue to be the focal point of the offense as the 49ers further develop in the Mike Martz system and get even more sophisticated with their passing game. Averaging 258 yards passing a game, O'Sullivan is on an early pace to finish with the third-highest season passing total in franchise history.

ALSO CONSIDERED: LB Patrick Willis (86-yard interception return for a TD, game-high 12 tackles, one tackle for loss); WR Isaac Bruce (four receptions for game-high 153 yards receiving, 38.3 average, long receptions of 63, 33 and 30 yards); CB Walt Harris (interception to set up go-ahead touchdown, five tackles, three passes defensed, including deflection that led to Willis interception); WR Bryant Johnson (game-high six receptions for 78 yards, 3-yard TD reception).

2008 NOTW LIST: Week 1: RB Frank Gore. Week 2: QB J.T. O'Sullivan.

Niners Digest Top Stories