The Offense: A Coming of Age Story?
The 49ers offense has been a work in progress for about seven seasons now. In that time the team has employed a new offensive coordinator each and every year. This season appears to be heading down a much different road than the past few have ventured. Mike Singletary and Jimmy Raye have installed a true power rushing attack in San Francisco. It’s an old adage but a good run game can help to develop a good passing one as well. The team seems to possess the pieces for the former however whether the latter can be achieved remains to be seen.
The following is a rundown of the different players who I see as different makers on the offensive side of the ball this season.
There is a player who has been showcasing his talents this preseason, not only in his team’s training camp but against live opponents as well. He currently leads the league in preseason rushing yardage with 30 carries for 196 yards in two contests.
I have heard the detractors, as some of their comments have been running rampant across the airwaves and internet. Raise your hand if you’ve heard these before…
His production has come against two teams, the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders who had the 27th and 31st ranked rush defense’s in the league last season. Not only that but he but he hasn’t proven himself at all being that the regular season is still a just about 19 days away. No matter how good or even great a player might perform in the “unimportant” exhibition season there will undoubtedly be those, supposedly in the know, who don’t want to make a statement that could come back to bite them once the “real season” commences.
Regardless of what point in the season it is, Glenn Coffee is a player who in my opinion is worthy of high praise. He has not only brought the real sense that the 49ers have a legitimately good backup for Frank Gore but also that, (trust me I didn’t even want to say this) should Gore go down at any point this season the running game will be just fine. This aspect of the offense would be left in Coffee’s capable hands and more importantly, legs.
The former back from Alabama can run, and when I say he can run I mean he can run like he stole something. He has a game that is very reminiscent to the great Roger Craig who enjoyed so many fine seasons and championships here in the bay area. He is a downhill rusher who has good speed and shiftiness for his size and is a perfect fit for Jimmy Raye’s offense which is proving to be extremely effective between the tackles as well as outside of them.
With Gore and Coffee showing that they have the offense locked down like the Octomom, Mike Singletary turned his attention this week to quarterback and named Shaun Hill starter for the season opener in Arizona on September 13th. This is the best move Samurai Mike could have made at this juncture. There are only two preseason games left and it was unlikely that Alex Smith was going to do much to wrestle the job away from Hill, what with going up against Dallas and San Diego in those contests.
Since the third preseason game is usually the one in which the starters play the longest, it will be a good test to see where just where Hill really is. For a team who is working towards earning the right to play in January and going up against one who is pretty much already a lock to be there will be a good measuring stick for this young and virtually untested group. The team in it’s current state has no playoff experience and I feel that there will be some games this season in which the 49ers become battle tested.
The receiving corps is the deepest that’s been seen this side of the bay since a young Terrell Owens was playing for the red and gold. Now, some believe that certain members of the team’s receivers are wasting their talent by being inconsistent and un-adept at the finer points of being a good receiver. I find this to be erroneous and can truly say that I am excited to see the heights that this unit can reach in 2009.
Josh Morgan in particular is a player I believe can be the #1 receiver on this team and at some point this season will be. I do not see him as an inconsistent receiver at all. He was hurt for a good part of last season as he contracted a staph infection in camp which caused him to lose 15 pounds. He then tore his groin, an injury that affected him even after he returned to the lineup. He played in only 12 games and started just once and he still hauled in 20 catches for 319 yards. He scored three touchdowns as well all of which were over 30 yards, including the game winner at St. Louis in week 16.
Don’t get me wrong, Isaac Bruce is an amazing talent and the fact that he resigned for one more season was a blessing, but this aspect of the offense is going to rely heavily on the younger guys. Bruce is going to be 37 on November 10th and he it’s likely that he’ll need more breathers this season then he did last.
This is where Jason Hill, Brandon Jones (if he’s healthy) Dominique Zeigler (I hope) and although I am completely fed up with his antics, Michael Crabtree have to come in and produce this season when they are called upon. I would expect that as long as Crabtree is signed and with the team when they face off against Arizona then he will make some form of impact in games this season.
With Jimmy Reye’s offense relying heavily on the running game requiring opposing defenses to stack eight defenders in the box. This should allow Vernon Davis to get open over the middle and on crossing routes while potentially presenting more opportunities for the receivers. Add in a capable passer, something I believe that Hill is, and this team has a very good chance at winning the NFC West in 2009.