Shaun Hill to open season as 49ers starter

We finally have a declared winner in one of the quarterback battles from around the league.

With 100% of the only opinion that matters reporting, Shaun Hill will lead the 49ers into battle in the team’s season opener, coach Mike Singletary announced Monday.

“I’m very excited about how Shaun ended last season and how he’s progressed through the offseason,” Singletary said.

The news doesn’t come as a surprise, despite Singletary’s statements delaying the decision on Sunday.  Alex Smith entered training camp knowing he needed a big preseason to make up ground on Hill, the incumbent.

Smith performed well in practices, possibly outplaying Hill early in camp, but he completed only 8-of-16 passes for 63 yards, one score and one interception in two preseason games.

Now that Hill has the job, the natural question is how long will he keep it?  It seems safe to assume that Hill will have to keep the 49ers near .500 or risk losing his job. 

While San Francisco’s schedule starts favorably, the smart money would be on Smith finding his way into the starting lineup before the end of the year.

UPDATE: Smith will miss the next week of practices with a sprained thumb, which surely made the decision even easier.