I had this awful dream last night.

Naturally, the setting was the 2012 playoffs. (I'm not any more interesting when I'm asleep, you see.) Due to a series of ironic twists—and despite those dastardly Football Fates—the Niners had earned a second chance. Hosting the NFC championship game. Facing the Giants. And leading, late.

It'd been another tough, defensive struggle. Colin Kaepernick had thrown for one score and run for another, and David Akers had tacked on a 30-yard field goal (though he'd missed two more from 45). With 1:47 to go in the game—my dreams are pretty detailed, you see—the Niners were up, 17-16. And they had the ball, third-and-one at their own 29. The Giants had only one timeout left.

Surely you can do the math. Convert here, and we're off to the Super Bowl.

Needless to say, the excitement was keen. After letting this same chance graze off our legs and slip through our hands, we were about to put those demons to rest. We were about to set off for New Orleans, and with only the New York Jets waiting there—they'd snuck into the playoffs and nipped the Broncos for the AFC crown, with Tim Tebow scoring the winning TD—Ring #6 was just about bagged.

All we needed was third-and-one.

But then the excitement started to wane. At first there was merely a mild concern. It grew, though, dramatically—until it bloomed into full-blown panic.

Off the bench came Daniel Kilgore. No. He was followed by Leonard Davis. Dear God, no! And those two were joined by Will Tukuafu. Sweet mother of mercy, no!!!

But yes. Greg Roman had elected to go with our famed "jumbo package." The short-yardage group with an extra half-ton of hefty manpower. Every time it makes an appearance, the goofy broadcasters faint and swoon, marveling at the display of old-school brawn they're about to behold. They never go on to notice, though—and evidently neither does Roman—that the package hardly ever works.

And so, despite the fact that Jim Harbaugh had tapped Kaepernick for his ability to do simply anything in a playbook—despite the fact that a fake halfback-dive and QB end-around would be absolutely unstoppable here—Roman was going old-school again. It's not like he'd never tried out any tricks, but those tricks had sometimes led to mistakes. (That second Rams game came to mind.) So now with Ring #6 on the line, he'd do precisely what Jimmy Raye would: he'd line up and make it a question of toughness.

Still mostly asleep, I started to mutter. "Harbaugh... Kill this play... Call timeout...." But then I realized that the last real price of Kaepernick's inexperience—his sluggish management of huddle and line—had already cost us our final timeout. Kaepernick took his place under center, no fewer than 10 Giants loading the box. There'd be no "kill" or even a "roll"; this was the play, no ifs ands or buts. Kaepernick took the snap and turned....

And then I woke up, screaming.

I don't think you need a psychology degree to figure this one out. Sure, last Sunday the jumbos failed once again, and I think they oughta be mothballed for good. But I think it goes much deeper than that.

Since Kaepernick's aerial circus destroyed Chicago, the explosiveness has dipped a bit. It's not entirely Smithy again: Kaepernick made plenty of big plays against the Saints; and even against the Rams and Fins, he made some huge throws both caught and dropped (not to mention two 50-yard runs). Indeed, if Randy Moss, despite interference, is able to hang onto a 60-yard bomb placed right in his hands, we're probably not having this discussion at all.

I still insist: if you want an explosive dual threat, you won't find anyone better than this.

But an explosive threat doesn't necessarily mean an explosive O. On this point, there's no stat more telling than deep-throw percentage. Kaepernick, who after Chicago ranked third, is now down to twelfth, at 20.9. Ranking aside, that's still pretty good; he's just ahead of Aaron Rodgers, and he's way ahead of Brady and Brees. But the trend has been dropping, and not surprisingly, so has our offensive rhythm and flow.

Of course, several factors account for this. First, opposing Ds are starting to guard against the deep ball, often giving us crazy cushions for underneath routes, which Kaepernick is wisely exploiting. Second, injuries to the receivers haven't helped; fewer deep weapons means fewer deep passes. Third, the O-line's pass-blocking is still a bit spotty, and you can't throw deep if you don't have time.

You can't control those things. But here's what you can, and it's worth discussing once again.

You can control your philosophy.

As the jumbos' regular appearances show, Roman, at heart, is still the "running game coordinator" that he was at Stanford. He's not averse to the passing game—after all, he did call the Chicago game—but if he were truly a pass-enthusiast, he wouldn't go into the shells that he does. He was totally spooked against the Rams, and against Miami he ran on second-and-7, second-and-7, second-and-10, second-and-16, second-and-10, and second-and-12. Some of those plays worked out okay—welcome aboard, LaMichael James—but that's not the point. The percentages say that runs on those downs will lead to third downs, which the percentages say will lead to punts.

Here's another way to put it. If you're a passing team, even one that strives for balance, you pass on those downs. And if you want to win the Super Bowl—and if your QB is Kaepernick—you should be a passing team.

More throws means more deep throws, which, in turn, means more explosiveness.

For years now, I've been begging for a restoration of the Niners' glorious identity, a philosophy of ingenious aggression. That's why Harbaugh—a Walsh disciple who lacks nothing in either ingenuity or aggressiveness—is such a perfect coach for us. And sure enough, both last year and this, we've seen quick bursts of that identity, but it hasn't quite been enough to take hold.

That's why Harbaugh went with Kaepernick. To instill that identity for good, at last. Yeah, we'll do some ground-and-pound; any great offense needs that capacity. But to intimidate opposing Ds—as Harbaugh clearly wants to do—Kaepernick must be unleashed.

Harbaugh, though, doesn't call the plays. And though Roman has deserved the praise he's received for his running-game wrinkles, he needs to adjust to his greatest weapon. Sure, he should make some allowances for Kaepernick's inexperience. But the playoffs are coming—the next two weeks will feel like they're already here—and it's time to see what this baby can do.

"There's nothing I'd like to do more than drop back and do irresponsible things every play," Roman said this preseason, dubiously. "But it's more fun winning."

Tell you what, Greg. Let's try being a little less responsible.

Or we might be in for some nightmares to come.