Notebook: Niners make move to Hill at QB

Mike Singletary's first major coaching move after becoming 49ers interim head coach was the benching of quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan. O'Sullivan has struggled this season with 11 interceptions and six lost fumbles - not to mention another fumble that resulted in a safety. He has more turnovers by himself than any other team in the NFL.

After two turnovers in the first half of Sunday's 34-13 loss to Seattle, one being an interception returned for a touchdown, O'Sullivan was benched in favor of backup Shaun Hill.

Hill responded with a solid showing. Hill played the entire second half. He completed 15 of 23 passes for 173 yards with one touchdown and no turnovers.

Singletary said he met with offensive coordinator Mike Martz on Monday morning. They watched the game film together and critiqued the performances of both quarterbacks. Singletary made the decision later in the day to make Hill the starter when the 49ers return to action for a Monday night game on Nov. 10 against the Arizona Cardinals.

"We just felt like right now Shaun gives us the best chance of winning," Singletary said. "It's just a good decision all around right now. The things that have happened with the turnovers, J.T. needs to take time to gather himself. It's a long season, eight games left, a lot of football. We may have to use both of them before it's over."

O'Sullivan has a 74.0 passer rating on the season. He has thrown for 1,676 yards in eight games with eight touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He also has fumbled 11 times – five of which were recovered by the 49ers. O'Sullivan also has been sacked more times (32) than any other NFL quarterback.

"If he had done a good job of managing the game, then we wouldn't be talking about what we're talking about right now," Singletary said. "I look at the quarterback position, (and) you need a player who can do whatever you need to do for the team to win. That's what I mean about managing the game."

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Singletary said Monday during his day-after game press conference that tight end Vernon Davis does not fit into the category of a player he does not want on his team.

Singletary banished Davis to the locker room early in the fourth quarter. First, Davis was called for unnecessary roughness after catching a 7-yard pass. Then, he seemingly dismissed Singletary when he wanted to talk to him about the mistake.

"Vernon is not a problem," Singletary said. "Vernon is not a problem guy. Vernon just forgets sometimes that the team is more important. Vernon is not a guy who doesn't come to practice. You have to tell Vernon, 'That's enough. Don't hurt the guy. That's your teammate.' He works his tail off. You don't have a problem with Vernon that way.

"What you have a problem with is with some of the decisions he makes at crucial times. 'Vernon, what were you thinking?' You have to be able to separate the two. He's not the kind of guy (who) is a distraction on the team. Yesterday was somewhat of a distraction, but everybody knows Vernon. They know full well who Vernon is, and I did what I had to do so that he wouldn't be so much of a distraction."

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Down 13-3 late in the second quarter, Singletary decided to pass up a 47-yard field goal attempt to go for it on fourth-and-4 from the Seattle 29. He said he looked to Martz to ask if he wanted to go for it. Martz said yes.

"I knew he'd say, 'I'd like to go for it,'" Singletary said. "I looked in his eyes and said, 'Let's go.'

"When he tells me, 'Mike, I want to go for it,' sometimes I'm going to say, 'No' - probably most of the time. But that time I felt I wanted to support what he feels."

The move backfield, however, as O'Sullivan threw the interception that was returned for a touchdown.

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The 49ers denied a report on the NFL Network that they were interested in interviewing Condoleezza Rice for a position as "team president."

But team executive Jed York said if the Secretary of State wants to call the team to talk about it, they'll at least give her that courtesy.


PLAYER NOTES
--- Rookie receiver Josh Morgan made the first start of his NFL career, replacing Bryant Johnson. However, Morgan lost his spot when he dropped a pass early in the game. Johnson caught three passes for 30 yards.
--- RB Frank Gore ranks second in the NFL with 940 yards from scrimmage. Gore has gained 629 yards rushing, while adding 311 yards receiving. Gore has more receiving yards than any running back, except Reggie Bush (366).
--- WR Arnaz Battle sustained a right foot sprain in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game and did not return to action. Battle's availability for the 49ers' game after the bye week remains in question. Battle is the 49ers' second-leading receiver with 24 catches for 318 yards.
--- TE Delanie Walker sustained a left elbow sprain, and his status after the bye week is uncertain. Walker has seven receptions for 126 yards and one touchdown on the season. He is the backup to starter Vernon Davis.


REPORT CARD VS. SEAHAWKS

PASSING OFFENSE: D -- J.T. O'Sullivan again had trouble hanging onto the football. After his interception late in the first half was returned for a touchdown, he was benched. The damage had already been done. Backup Shaun Hill entered the game and did much better. Using a short-passing attack, Hill completed 15 of 23 passes for 173 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. Niners quarterbacks were sacked five times for negative-40 yards in the game.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- The 49ers got some decent yardage on the ground, as Frank Gore gained 94 yards on 18 carries. He bounced back with a solid performance after the Giants held him to 11 yards on 11 carries the previous game. The 49ers had seven of their 21 first downs on the ground.

PASS DEFENSE: F -- The 49ers made backup quarterback Seneca Wallace look darn good. Wallace completed 15 of 25 passes for 222 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating was 115.8. What was unusual was that the 49ers could not stop seldom-used fullback Leonard Weaver, who caught four passes for 116 yards. Wallace's passer rating was 115.8.

RUSH DEFENSE: B-plus -- The 49ers gave up a touchdown rushing and four first downs, but the play of the run defense was very, very strong. Maurice Morris was Seattle's leading rusher with 16 yards on 11 carries. As a team, the Seahawks rushed for 39 yards on 28 carries. Manny Lawson had a strong day in his most extensive playing time on the season. Lawson had a team-high nine tackles, including two behind the line of scrimmage.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B-minus -- Joe Nedney had a season-best three touchbacks on kickoffs. He also booted field goals of 42 and 40 yards. Andy Lee had a good day punting with a 49.0 average, including a net 42.5. The 49ers did not get a whole lot accomplished in the return game, though.

COACHING: D -- Interim coach Mike Singletary was in a difficult situation, and he did not get the 49ers to respond in his first game. The first big decision that he made backfired. Instead of sending out Nedney for a 47-yard field goal, which would've cut the Seahawks' lead to seven points near the end of the first half, he decided to go for it. O'Sullivan threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. Singletary later made another bold move. He benched tight end Vernon Davis after an unnecessary roughness penalty. Then, he sent Davis to the locker room for the final quarter after there was some exchange between the two men. The 49ers were already playing without their backup tight end.



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