After throwing a second-quarter interception on a 4th and 4 play at the Seattle 29-yardline, which was returned 75 yards the other way by Josh Wilson for a touchdown, head coach Mike Singletary pulled quarterback JT O'Sullivan in favor of Shaun Hill.
"I didn't see it the end of it. I think I got turned around, so I'm not sure if it was behind him, I didn't see a replay," said O'Sullivan. "I need to see it before I can tell you exactly what happened."
O'Sullivan had also twice fumbled the ball in the first quarter, although the 49ers lost only one with center Eric Heitmann recovering the first loose ball on the 49ers opening drive of the game. The second fumble was recovered however by Patrick Kerney and returned 50 yards, setting up a Seattle field goal.
"It's just one of those situations where you feel like you're going in the game and you want the best opportunity to win," said Singletary of the change. "If a quarterback is going in and he's not playing well, he's just not in that rhythm and after a while his teammates can get frustrated. And some coaches can get frustrated. Rather than going there, just say, 'You know what? Let's make a change and we'll revisit it later.'"
O'Sullivan completed 13 of 21 passes for 131 yards prior to his exit, for a 59.8 QB Rating.
"I'm disappointed," said O'Sullivan of being yanked out of the game. "I think being taken out, you're always going to be surprised becuase you're so into the moment of trying to compete. You try to put yourself in a situation to be successful. It is the last thing you are thinking about."
Hill had only one snap before the half, handing off to Frank Gore for a run play. Although Singletary said it was his call to pull O'Sullivan at the half, it was coordinator Mike Martz that suggested they let Hill go ahead and handle the final series before the half.
"Martz said to me, 'if we're going to take him out, then instead of waiting till the second half, why don't we allow him to get in, get in a rhythm, get a feel for it, so that in the second half he's just not fresh off the bench," explained Singletary.
Hill opened the third quarter with a 14-play, 56-yard drive that resulted in a Joe Nedney field goal. He was 5 of 7 for 42 yards on the series, including two key third down conversions.
"Everybody in the huddle told me we still have a chance to win this thing," said Hill of his reception from his teammates. "So that was very encouraging."
In the fourth quarter, he commanded his unit on a 15-play, 62-yard scoring drive that took nearly seven minutes and ended in Hill's two-yard touchdown throw to Jason Hill.
Hill finished the game 15 of 23 for 173 yards, a touchdown and a 102.3 QB Rating. Although he too fumbled the ball once on a sack in the fourth quarter, guard David Baas recovered.
"He played great. Shaun's a football player, you can tell," said running back Frank Gore. "You can tell he's working hard, because he knows what to do once he's in the game. We have to start making plays and stop making mistakes."
Singletary said he'll have to further evaluate the situation before deciding upon a starter for the 49ers next game, against the Arizona Cardinals. He'll have plenty of time to think, since the 49ers won't play the Cards until Monday Night Football, after next weekend's bye.
"If it's JT, Shaun or whoever is in there, I'm going to play my butt off for whoever is in there," said guard David Baas. "I'm going to do my job and I expect them to do their job."