Back where it all began

Shaun Hill spent his first four NFL seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, playing only two snaps in his final season with the team before joining the 49ers. Still, Hill calls it an influential period in his football career, and here he talks about his time in Minnesota, returning to play the Vikings as the 49ers' starter, and Sunday's key NFC clash between undefeated teams at the Metrodome.

On whether it‘s special for him to return to Minnesota for Sunday's game against the Vikings: "Nothing more special than any other week. Any time that you have a chance to play, I think it's special."

On the challenge of getting the offense into a rhythm playing in the Metrodome: "It's a challenge when you're on the road, especially in an indoor facility where the crowd gets rowdy. But it's something that we had to deal with in week one and it's something that we'll have to deal with again this week. It's never an excuse, but it's something that we'll have to prepare for."

On the progress of the offensive line: "I think they executed better and they did a great job all day. Each and every week, at every position, we have to continue to improve. It's not just that group. I think a lot of people improved going into that game. But yes, they did a great job of protecting the passer last week."

On being able to run the ball against Minnesota's defensive tackles: "Those guys are great players without a doubt. Their whole defense, as a whole, is very talented – very good. Everything is going to be a challenge, but we're excited for the opportunity and [also] for the challenge."

On what he learned during his time in Minnesota: "Oh man, I learned a lot just sitting back and watching. I was very fortunate to have great guys in front of me. I learned an awful lot in my four years there."

On some of the influential people that he learned from while in Minnesota: "All of them, [QB] Daunte [Culpepper] was there the whole time that I was there. [QB]Todd Bouman was there my rookie season, after that it was [QB] Gus Frerotte for two seasons, and then [QB] Brad Johnson. I learned something from all of those guys. They were very gracious to offer up the help to me, and obviously I was very willing to go to them for help."

On his thoughts on Vikings QB Brett Favre: "It is amazing that he's still playing and playing at a high level. I've seen and played against, most of the time sat the bench against, quite a few times against Brett Favre and it's always exciting to play those teams."

On noticing Brett Favre being injured during last year's game against him when he played with the New York Jets: "To be honest with you, I wasn't sitting there watching him, we had enough to concentrate on the offensive side of the ball. I didn't watch him much last year at all."

On whether it meant much to him outperforming Brett Favre in last year's game: "No. It's a total team sport. It's never me against Brett Favre, that's for sure. Our team outperformed their team and that was it. I never took it to a personal level, that's for sure."

On what it will take to outperform Minnesota's offense this weekend: "We have to do what we do and do it against a good group. Obviously, we're going to have to be able to run the ball against them, we're going to have to be able to execute in the passing game, convert third downs, get touchdowns in the red zone – all of the things that you look to do every week."

On whether the passing game will be utilized more in this game: "I'm not sure yet. Every game plays out differently, so there's no telling at this point."

On describing this teams Identity: "It's kind of laid out right there for you. The tough and physical aspects: [being] smart, relentless, and having discipline, those are the things that [head coach Mike Singletary] laid out for us and I think, by large, that we're showing that. Those are things that we need to continue to do."

On what he thinks the biggest difference from previous seasons to this season: "The biggest one? Right now we are executing, we are not turning the ball over. Our defense is getting turnovers. Those things are huge in the NFL. That goes along with the discipline and playing smart and all those things. As much as anything, obviously I think we are a pretty physical team on both sides of the ball, so all those things I think are improvements over what we have done in the past."

On how much of a student of the game he was during his time in Minnesota: "I've always tried to prepare as if I was playing, even back then when I was the three and had a slim chance of playing. I was always prepared as if I was going to play if the opportunity did come, then I'd be ready for that. I wouldn't have to change anything that I did. I carried that over when I came here as the three, so yes it was the same then."

On what the circumstances were on the two snaps he played in his final year with the Vikings: "It was the last game of the year, we played Chicago at home. [QB] Brad Johnson played and then he went out to the huddle. He finished out the year really strong for us. He went out of the huddle, I came running in so the crowd could give him a cheer, although I thought it was for me. I then took two knees."

On whether the dome helps him at all: "I guess, but I think every quarterback in the league likes playing in domes. You don't have to worry about wind or any of those factors, so that part of it is nice."

On the noise factors in a dome as a visiting quarterback: "No matter where you play, it is going to be noisy on the road. We are fortunate in this division. We played in Arizona in Week 1 and it's very noisy. Seattle is very noisy. We get to play in a dome in St. Louis every year. So these things we get every year. It shouldn't be that big of an issue."

On whether he is hoarse after a game in a dome: "I'm hoarse after any game, but especially when we are on the road."

On whether he's made any special preparations for the game in the dome: "Out at practice I try to be louder, things like that."

On whether he heard about Brett Favre's new nickname, the Silver Fox: "No, I guess they are good at giving nicknames out there. I had one there, it's the one time in my life that I've had one. I'm not going to share it and it didn't follow me here, so I was happy about that."

On whether someone in Minnesota would be able to tell them what it was: "I'm sure if you did very little research, you would find out."

On whether he sees this is a game to tell them where they really stand: "Yes, this is a really big game for us. Like you said, they are expected to be one of the powerhouses in the NFC and we are excited about the opportunity and the challenge."

On whether the team can be too cautious: "It depends on the way the game is going. There's a lot of variables that go into all that, there really are. Like I said, every game plays out totally different."

On whether he is saying he's never had a nickname before his time in Minnesota: "Right. Not that I could recall anyway."



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