After another three-turnover performance on Sunday, it seems that QB J.T. O’Sullivan could have his development impeded by a weary coaching staff which may have to give Shaun Hill a shot at the starting position.
Despite O’Sullivan’s respectable passing numbers against the Giants (16-for-28, 256 yards), his maddening susceptibility to turnovers is stifling a 49ers offense which needs more opportunities than what he is giving them. And it could have been worse. O’Sullivan fumbled four times on Sunday, although the Giants recovered the ball just once. Still, fumble recoveries have been statistically proven to be random acts, so it’s more worthwhile to look at the number of times a player fumbles vs. fumble recoveries.
Part of the reason for O’Sullivan fumbling so much is his lack of pocket presence. He just doesn’t feel pass rushers, so he’s rarely able to tuck the ball before getting pulled down from an emerging defender.
Add that to O’Sullivan’s fourth quarter mishaps, and you have a quarterback in danger of becoming a weekly roadblock to a win.
After turning over the ball on three straight possessions in Week 6 against the Eagles, O’Sullivan lost a fumble near the 49ers’ end zone halfway through the fourth quarter on Sunday, resulting in a safety.
Unfortunately for O’Sullivan, bad luck has followed his poor play in the last quarter. A deep 30-yard pass to Josh Morgan on the left sideline resulted in an incomplete pass which should have been an easy catch for the rookie wide receiver. The ball actually sailed perfectly through Morgan’s outstretched arms, so it’s unrealistic to push the blame on O’Sullivan for that particular incomplete pass.
Still, whatever sympathy 49ers fans felt for the QB on that pass was negated on his final play of the game, when he scrambled out of bounds on fourth down instead of at least throwing the ball downfield and giving a receiver a chance to make a play.
O’Sullivan was visibly frustrated and shaken throughout the game, especially after the last play, but this is no time for a quarterback who is unsure of himself. If the 49ers are to make a playoff push (funny, haha, but not impossible with their 2-5 record), then either O’Sullivan will have to protect the ball or Shaun Hill might have to make a rescue mission for the second consecutive season.