sharesShare this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Google+ Share this on Tumblr Flip into Flipboard Share this on Reddit Share via SMS Share via Email
If you've followed Frank Gore throughout his career, you'd know he's not the type of player who speaks out of turn in an effort to cause drama or take a cheap shot at someone. He's a passionate, intense competitor who leads by example and takes the game seriously. In turn, when Gore says something, people tend to listen, and with good reason.
So it shouldn't come as a shock that the San Francisco 49ers' all-time leading rusher made some waves recently when he commented on whether or not the offense he currently plays on (with the Indianapolis Colts) could be the best one he's been a part of in the NFL.
"I think if we keep working and keep going and get that gelled, I think by far it can," Gore said to Nate Burleson of NFL Media. "Especially with No. 12, man (Andrew Luck). I'm not knocking my other quarterbacks, I respect them other guys, but being around this guy a couple months, he's a different breed. He's smart. He makes me feel young. He runs the huddle. I never had that."
Now you can take what Gore said however you want to (personally I think he was trying more to compliment Luck than he was to knock anyone else), but no matter how it's perceived, you have to admit he has a point.
I could take a look deep into the play and statistics of all the quarterbacks Gore's had throughout the years, and breaking that down would no doubt back up his claims. But the truth of the matter is, Alex Smith isn't with the 49ers anymore, neither is Shaun Hill, or anyone else that was under center from 2005 when Gore broke in through 2012. The only quarterback 49er fans should be concerned about is Gore's most recent one, Colin Kaepernick.
In fairness to Kaepernick, I'm not so sure he's ever really had the opportunity to take full command of the huddle (or offense), since former head coach Jim Harbaugh had such a big hand in it all. It's been documented that Harbaugh would peer into the huddle during practice and call the plays, something that gives the impression that he wanted his quarterbacks to be an extension of him, and not their own entity.
Could you imagine him doing that to Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers? It's no wonder Peyton chose the Denver Broncos a few years back.
Regardless, Harbaugh was obviously not able to run into the huddles on game day, but you have to be curious if his approach to practices had a ripple effect.
Under Harbaugh, the 49ers were notoriously bad at getting play calls in and snapping the ball on time. How bad? Well, in the four years Harbaugh was the head coach, the 49ers were called for 42 delay of game penalties over 72 games (including the playoffs). That number was by far the most of any franchise. The league average is about 4.39 per year, and San Francisco more than doubled that by averaging 10.9 calls per season.
As bad as that sounds, it doesn't even take into account the number of timeouts that were wasted in order to avoid a delay of game from being called. And let's be frank, it's that exact scenario that probably cost the 49ers the game winning touchdown in Super Bowl XLVII.
Possibly adding to the confusion was the way the actual game day calls were made. Former offensive coordinator Greg Roman would send the play to Harbaugh from the booth, who would then relay them to Kaepernick.
So essentially, Kaepernick was expected to run the huddle one way in practice (with Harbaugh basically calling the shots), and then a completely different way during the game. In addition, he had to wait until two people got a play to him before he was able to get his team huddled up and set. It's no wonder the whole thing was a jumbled mess, and really wasn't ever fair to Kaepernick in the first place.
2015 will be the first season that Kaepernick will be the lone voice on offense, and we'll get to see if the new approach helps alleviate some of the aforementioned issues. Kaepernick will be calling the plays the same way in the game that he does in practice, however new offensive coordinator Geep Chryst will be sending the calls to his quarterback's coach Steve Logan before Kaepernick hears them. We'll have to wait and see if that middle man approach still causes a problem.
Will the change in practice guarantee improvement? That remains to be seen, but you have to give the new staff credit for recognizing an issue and working to get it rectified. The rest is up to Kaepernick and the offense to execute.
Al Sacco has covered the 49ers for various sites over the years. He's been a guest on multiple podcasts and had his work used by ESPN NFL Insiders and USA TODAY. Follow Al on Twitter @AlSacco49