Nolan on 49ers QBs: Advantage, O'Sullivan

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Astute KNBR radio listener Matt Maiocco notes on his blog, Instant 49ers, that coach Mike Nolan has declared J.T. O'Sullivan the leading candidate to start at quarterback.

Maiocco and the other beat reporters had been hinting at this based on the reps O'Sullivan was getting with the starters in practice.

Here is what you need to know about this QB race: The 49ers' choice will probably reflect the preferences of offensive coordinator Mike Martz. O'Sullivan's history with Martz in Detroit gives him an advantage.

We figured going into camp that Alex Smith would emerge. We have since learned the 49ers are treating him like just another quarterback in camp, not the first player chosen in the 2005 draft. This is an interesting approach.

A case can be made that Smith is finished in San Francisco if the 49ers name anyone else the starter. Who knows? Smith could conceivably perform better if thrust into the job unexpectedly and without expectations sometime during the season. I'm sure Nolan will stress that this quarterback race is not finished. I'll be interested in seeing how Smith responds when the Packers visit San Francisco for the next exhibition game.

Update: On second thought ...