Liotta: O’Sullivan is key to 49ers’ success

I’ve been reduced to praying that J.T. O’Sullivan doesn’t get hurt.

What does it say about the current state of the 49ers that a guy playing for his eighth NFL team over the past six years and has never started a regular-season game in this league is my key to the upcoming season — and has me praying he doesn’t miss a down?

I’ve convinced myself that the Niners can surprise some people this season if their quarterback is simply adequate. And O’Sullivan appears to be the only guy in The City with a chance to reach that level. He doesn’t have to be great (even though that would be nice).

Average would be a huge improvement over what the 49ers have gotten from that position over the last year.

What the 49ers can’t afford in 2008 is a disaster at quarterback. And that’s exactly what Alex Smith has looked like for a year now. The fact that Shaun Hill couldn’t beat out Smith for the backup job says all we need to know about him. If either of these guys reaches the field this season, it will officially be a disaster.

The other thing that needs to be in the prayers of the 49er faithful is a quick start, a successful September. I’m talking 2-2 at worst. Why? Because October is going to be the month from … well, you know.

The New England Patriots, the Philadelphia Eagles, the New York Giants and the Seattle Seahawks — the two teams from last year’s Super Bowl, the division champion and the trendy pick to be the most improved team in the league. That’s what October holds for the 49ers.

But for the next four weeks, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic: The defense has improved. Vernon Davis is ready to be a star. Frank Gore and DeShaun Foster give the 49ers a solid running attack. The return of Manny Lawson. The surprise named Josh Morgan.
If all these factors break the 49ers’ way — which is not out of the question — this team can be competitive. And once a team is competitive in this league, anything is possible.

But only if O’Sullivan doesn’t get hurt.

Random thoughts
Predictions: NFC division champs will be the Cowboys, Packers, Seahawks and Saints, with the Vikings and Eagles as wild cards. The AFC division champs will be the Patriots, Steelers, Colts and Chargers, with the Jaguars and Jets as wild cards. The Chargers will win the AFC Championship Game. The Cowboys will win the NFC Championship Game. And the Chargers will beat the Cowboys 23-20 in the Super Bowl.

Cy Young race: With four weeks to go, I think the National League Cy Young Award race is down to the Giants’ Tim Lincecum and Arizona’s Brandon Webb. Lincecum has to cut into Webb’s lead in victories to have a chance.

Tim Liotta is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to The Examiner. E-mail him at tliotta@sfexaminer.com.

49ersNFLSan Francisco 49erssports

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays attends an event to honor the San Francisco Giants' 2014 World Series victory on Thursday, June 4, 2015, in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
Willie Mays turns 90: San Francisco celebrates the greatest Giant

By Al Saracevic Examiner staff writer I couldn’t believe it. Willie Mays… Continue reading

Ja’Mari Oliver, center, 11, a fifth grader at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, is surrounded by his classmates at a protest outside the Safeway at Church and Market streets on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 in support of him following an April 26 incident where he was falsely accused by an employee of stealing. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
School community rallies behind Black classmate stopped at Safeway

‘When you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us’

A warning notice sits under the windshield wiper of a recreational vehicle belonging to a homeless man named David as it sits parked on De Wolf Street near Alemany Boulevard on Friday, Aug. 31, 2018. A proposed SF Municipal Transportation Agency law would make it illegal for overnight parking on the side street for vehicles taller than seven feet or longer than 22 feet. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA to resume ‘poverty tows’ amid calls to make temporary ban permanent

Fines and fees hurt low-income, homeless residents, but officials say they are a necessary tool

Income from Shared Spaces will provide financial resources to the San Francisco Municipal Transporation Agency, according to its director, Jeffrey Tumlin. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA director says Shared Spaces serves transit agency’s financial interest

$10.6 million price tag for program raises concerns among transit agency’s board members

A broad coalition of tenants and housing rights organizers rally at Stanley Mosk Courthouse to protest eviction orders issued against renters Stanley Mosk Courthouse on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in Los Angeles, CA. (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Federal judge strikes down CDC’s national moratorium on evictions

David Yaffe-Bellany, Noah Buhayar Los Angeles Times A federal judge in Washington… Continue reading

Most Read