Pro football is a fickle business. Shaun Hill won the San Francisco 49ers’ starting quarterback job with strong performances during the latter half of the 2008 season. He prevailed over Alex Smith in the exhibition season this summer and the team got off to a fast start.
But they played terribly against the Atlanta Falcons. Even after their bye week, the Niners were listless against the Houston Texans in the first half Sunday. So Coach Mike Singletary made a change, inserting Smith into the lineup.
And pow! The Niners scored three touchdowns and were seemingly on their way to a fourth when the Texans intercepted the ball to preserve a 24-21 victory.
Now today comes word that Smith will start the next game. The starting job is his to lose.
And the way things go in the NFL, he will lose the job eventually – to Hill or to some other quarterback who comes along.
I was lukewarm to Smith when the Niners picked him up as a top draft pick a few years back. He was inconsistent whereas with Hill at the controls, the 49ers seemed to move the ball. Hill isn’t flashy, but the team won more often than not.
I give Smith tremendous credit. He has not sulked or demanded a trade or trashed his organization — as so many multimillionaire malcontents do. He’s kept his focus, and he was ready when called.
Even more, he delivered.
In the brutal world of the NFL, that matters most.