NFL: 49ers to trade quarterback Hill to Lions for draft pick
By Matthew Barrows
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Squeezed out of San Francisco, quarterback Shaun Hill will be throwing passes for the Detroit Lions in 2010.
The 49ers have agreed to trade Hill to the Lions for a seventh-round draft pick in 2011, according to a source with knowledge of the deal.
Hill, who began last season as the 49ers’ starting quarterback, became expendable when the team acquired David Carr at the start of free agency. Hill had been given permission to shop himself around to other teams late last week.
Carr has agreed to terms on a two-year deal and is expected to turn in his signed contract Monday. That, plus Hill passing a physical in Detroit, will make the trade official.
Although Hill was 10-6 in games he started for the 49ers, he was replaced by former No. 1 overall draft pick Alex Smith in the second half of a Week 7 loss to the Houston Texans and never regained his starting job.
The 49ers offense strives for a strong running game and a downfield passing attack, and the 49ers didn’t believe Hill had the arm strength to make it work.
In Detroit, Hill again will find himself behind a former No. 1 pick, quarterback Matthew Stafford, whom the Lions selected last year. Stafford injured his non-throwing shoulder late in the 2009 season and the team will limit his workload this spring.
The Lions also have Drew Stanton, a second-round draft pick in 2007, on the roster, but the expectation is that Hill will be the No. 2 quarterback.
“We’ve got a quality starter that we like,” Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said late last month. “We’ve got a young, developmental guy (Stanton) that we also like. So it’s not an area we have to go out and address the first day of free agency, that we have to have a backup quarterback right then. We’ve got some time on that.”
Both Mayhew and 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan attended Oklahoma State’s pro day on Wednesday.
In Detroit, Hill will be reunited with Scott Linehan, the Lions offensive coordinator who had the same job for the Vikings from 2002-2004. Minnesota acquired Hill after he went undrafted out of the University of Maryland in 2002 and quickly became impressed by him.
Minnesota’s coach at the time, Mike Tice, was a Maryland alumnus who watched Hill lead the Terrapins to the Orange Bowl the year before. The Vikings outbid the Giants and Dolphins to land Hill, who was the last of five Vikings quarterbacks on the depth chart that spring.
“The biggest thing that pops out about Shaun is that he’s very bright,” Tice told The Bee in September. “He understands football. He understands where to go with the football, and he makes quick decisions. The second thing is that he’s a better athlete than people think he is.”
Linehan also was Mike Singletary’s first choice as 49ers offensive coordinator after the head coach parted ways with Mike Martz following the 2008 season. Linehan twice met with 49ers officials in January, 2009, but turned down Singletary’s job offer, calling it a personal decision. He later took the same job with the Lions.
After nearly a month-long search, Singletary ultimately selected Jimmy Raye, who will run the 49ers offense for the second consecutive season this year.