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Roger Craig, an 11 year NFL veteran and 2010 Hall of Fame finalist took some time with 49erswebzone to answer questions. He's doing so in order to promote the "Fishing Trip of a Lifetime" with WFN, the world's first 24-hour fishing television network. More information on the chance to win a trip with Roger Craig can be found at the bottom of the page.
What follows is a transcript of a 30-minute phone interview I conducted with Roger earlier this week.
What do you think of Frank Gore's work load? Should he share his carries?
Its just the norm in the NFL. Not just Frank Gore. It' just the wave of the future of how offenses are utilizing two or three backs. If you look at teams that win super bowls they all have two or three backs. The Saints are a prime example. They have three backs that were basically equal in yardage. The Saints kept their backs fresh all year long and the Giants had earth, wind and Fire. That's not to put down frank gore. He's a heckuva back. But in the playoffs you need that second gear. Teams have to play smart.
Do you think the 49ers have that player on the roster now?
I think if Coffee were utilized correctly than he could be dangerous. It's a mayer of getting playing time and getting his confidence up. He will come I'm eager to show everyone that he is the real deal.
Should the 49ers draft CJ Spiller as the compliment to Gore?
I like him. He reminds me of Frank Gore but quicker. He's fast and he slashes; he hits the hole pretty fast. That would d be a great combination. It would really tough to key in on those guys.
Who do you think the 49ers should draft?
I think they have enough at the skill positions. I like tonnage, I like guys up front. Lineman. Defensive lineman. Thats how you win games.
Should the 49ers trade up to draft a premier tackle?
Just take the best player at your slot. There's so many players. Bill Walsh was an expert at getting players in the later rounds. Come on - there are always good players out there. I want guys that are hungry and are willing to step up to the plate. Jamaal Charles put up some great numbers and he was not a super high draft pick.
What do you think about Alex Smith? Do we still need a quarterback?
Its funny that people are downgrading Alex Smith because he seemingly hasn't stepped up to the plate. But if you remember the year when Norv Turner was there, Alex smith played well that year. He just needs to get more confidence in play calling and in the system. He's maturing well. And no one would be talking about Alex smith if the 49ers beat the Colts last year. They came so close to beating the colts, in Indianapolis. [The 49ers] are close. And he's close. I think he now knows that he's Lea leader and he doesn't have to look over his shoulder. I think this year he's going to shock a lot of people.
What do you think of the Ted Ginn trade?
Hopefully he can spread the defense out to open up the offense as well. He has enough speed to do that. That should help Crabtree too. If we stretch the defense it should help the running game and Vernon Davis. Davis is a beast.
What team runs the closest thing to Bill Walsh's West Coast Offense?
I have to say the New Orleans Saints. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady run similar systems to what we ran. Its a similar format, you know, getting rid of the ball, short passes to the tight end and running back. But the best orchestrator is maybe Tom Brady, but more so Drew Brees. I love those guys. They remind me of Joe Montana.
How do you feel about the 49ers ditching the WCO?
They need to experiment with some parts of the west coast offense. But then you have to restructure things and steps and timing. I mean, you can't run a shotgun in the West Coast Offense. So Alex Smith would have to get under center and work on his steps. The lat time I saw him do that was when Norv turner was here. If they used some variation of the West Coast Offense it would help their offense be a little more diversified.
You were the first to have 1,000 rushing and receiving yards in one season. How do you think that's changed the running back position?
I think now you have to be a complete back. Thats what teams look for. You have to be able to run, catch and block. I tried to do that the best way I could. I tried to do the little things like play action faking. I took pride in that. It was big deal for me, man. Joe Montana and I would practice every day after practice. We had it down to a science. I felt bad if I didn't get hit from selling my fake. It was almost like a fumble for me.
What was your most memorable game?
I would have to say my first Super Bowl. It was only my second year and I didn't know what to expect. And I remember Hacksaw Reynolds came over to me (he still called me 'Rook') and he said, 'You gotta play every play like it's gonna be your last because you never know when you are going to come back to a game like this.' That relaxed me and motivated me. And he didn't like rookies, so that really made my day.
Would you trade in all your rings for one perfect season?
[Laughs] Not a fat chance! No, no no. Oh, man - no, no, no. I love my rings. I willed my rings to my kids so all my kids get a ring. Thats what you play for - you play for the armor. You don't play for stats. You play to get to the playoffs and the Super Bowl. I played 11 consecutive playoffs. I never missed the playoffs in my career. I cherish that mores than anything that I could have done individually on the field.
I see you're promoting a "fishing trip of a lifetime" with WFN. How did you get into fishing?
Bill Walsh would have these fish derbys during training camp to break up the monotony of practice. It would get stale being in camp all day. So we used to have all of these catfish and whoever got the biggest fish they would have a trip to Hawaii, or there was money involved for the top two winners. It was fun, and I (of course) always won. And now, when I fish, it's like my meditation. The World Fishing Network heard about this and they approached me about being their Bay Area Spokesperson.
The World Fishing Network sent along this info about the event for those interested.
It's not that often that folks have the chance to rub elbows with a three-time Super Bowl Champion, or sit in a luxury suite - until now. Roger Craig spent eleven years in the National Football League looking for the end zone. Now, Craig has partnered with WFN, the nation's only 24-hour fishing lifestyle TV channel, and is looking for one lucky person to take fishing as part of a WFN Bay Area promotion. With the promotion, WFN and Craig kick-off the launch of a Web site at www.wfnbayarea.com, a site specifically dedicated to fishing in the Bay Area.
Craig, a three-time Super Bowl Champion and four-time Pro Bowler with the San Francisco 49ers, will pick one lucky angler who will win the "fishing trip of a lifetime" with Craig, hitting one of the Bay Area's best fisheries. The winner and Craig will have their fishing adventure covered by a WFN crew, and it will air on the network, giving the lucky winner a rare chance to appear on national television. The grand prize also includes $1,000 in cash and WFN merchandise. One early bird winner (April 23 deadline) will receive two luxury suite tickets to the June 26 San Francisco Giants vs. Boston Red Sox game. Visit www.wfnbayarea.com to enter.