Greg Roman vs. The World

Brandon Graham
Dec 2, 2014 at 2:44 PM

Is firing Greg Roman going to solve this team's offensive woes?

Yes. Wait, no.


Greg Roman is a "trusted agent" of Jim Harbaugh. The game plans, the play calling, the 2014 offensive strategy as we've seen unfold has Harbaugh's fingerprints all over it. It could be argued that Harbaugh and Roman may be the closest companions this side of York & Baalke.

As a rabid fan base calls for blood and an owner tweets from above, Jim Harbaugh does not flinch.

I wonder if Cassie Baalke ruined her Dad's firing plans?

Make no mistake; the 49ers actually believed they could beat the Seahawks with the same game plan they've trotted out since Week One. "Four receiver sets and a pass heavy scheme to show off our new toys, Stevie and Lloyd", Roman and Harbaugh must have thought to themselves.

And Seattle just sat back and played defense.

Despite the message board demands, I believe the coaching staff understands the team's personnel just a tad better than the rest of us.

The reality is that this team is inherently broken on the offensive side given three major issues:

1. The offensive line has played with two new starters for much of the season and neither one are particularly good. And the unit as a whole isn't nearly as good as previous seasons.

2. (Perhaps a by-product of number one) Frank Gore has lost a step and Carlos Hyde has yet to set the league on fire.

3. Colin Kaepernick's inconsistent play

So the running game is struggling and the QB isn't playing particularly good enough to win football games. And we wonder why the offense is a mess?

While I believe Greg Roman has for the most part been an adequate play caller, it appears he hit his ceiling this season. It's unfortunate that it coincides with regressive play from some key positions, but perhaps that's just a coincidence?

Jim Harbaugh hand-picked Colin Kaepernick and it was Greg Roman who helped ease him into this offense in the middle of the 2012 season. They played to Kaepernick's strengths, careful not to bury their young QB with too much responsibility in the early stages. Safe to say it paid off the previous two post-seasons (for the most part).

The reality of this eventual undoing is that Harbaugh and Roman are more entrenched with one another than most fans assume. How does replacing Roman, but keeping Harbaugh, dramatically change this offense? Some fans would like to see both gone, and while I understand that sentiment, the idea of showing Jim Harbaugh the door is unsettling to this particular fan.

A coach of his pedigree isn't coordinating somewhere in this league. Trust me.

A new coordinator paired with Harbaugh might re-energize the vision, but how much will he be willing to concede to an outsider?

Could Hue Jackson or even an unemployed (guessing) Marc Trestman come in and be given the keys to the offense? I'm not sure Jim Harbaugh plays that way.

Perhaps there's a handful of fans who still believe in Greg Roman ("handful" might be generous)? Maybe the three items I listed above are the contributors of the demise and it's tough to envision any quality offensive coordinator doing better? Possibly.

Greg Roman cannot be faulted for all of the offensive woes, but when a unit as a whole is struggling there almost always has to be a fall guy.

That might be Roman.

But what if he's actually taking the fall for his head coach?

What if this all moot as both will be gone in four weeks?

Clearly Jed York has some decisions to tweet.

I mean make.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • Don
    How many times must a coordinator call 3yd routes on a 3rd and 5 before he gets fired? A team that has been a run first team for years gets two new WRs and suddenly is supposed to sling the ball all over the field? Kaepernick has been wildly inconsistent so what do you do? You run the ball. But Roman abandons the run game 5 plays into the game, no matter how many 5-7 yard runs Gore makes. It's ridiculous. The Niners are a running team that doesn't run the football. That's like having Peyton Manning throw 12 passes a game like Russell Wilson. At least Seattle and Denver know what they're good at.
    Dec 4, 2014 at 1:48 PM
  • Medina
    Offensive woes are the teams (offensively as a whole, 2/3 of the blame is Romans he is the OC so he is the one to orchestrate the plan of attack and has failed miserably this season not to mention the bad calls the championships and Super Bowl! The Running Game has suffered because we have been trying to play a new kind of game this 4 wide set! the o line has been lacking majorly in the pass protect area! Which is why Kap hasn't really shined. When constantly on the run and told to be a passer first you can only do so much. When a defense is held in check and worried will he run hand off or find a WR you have succes but when you already know the game plan you can pick that offense apart. All can talk smack and will cause we are not playing to potential but, name one QB who is pressure as much and doing good. Not Brady, not manning, not Rodgers. Their line gives them time none of them are touch anywhere as much as Kap has, the only QB out there who is getting pressured like so is Cam and he isn't doing to great either! Our online isn't playing the run as good our ypg are down why because we only run the damn ball what maybe 24 times a game between two RBs. mix it up better
    Dec 3, 2014 at 8:27 PM
  • Jerry
    Eddie - how many picks did Roman throw and how many incomplete passes. Believe your eyes. They don't lie.
    Dec 3, 2014 at 3:29 PM
  • Wizolman
    You mean the Kap who has beaten the Packers 3 times? The Kap who got us in the Super Bowl, passed for over 300 yards and would have won it if it weren't for some really bad play-calling by Greg Roman? The Kap who got us to 12-4 last year? The Kap who set a record in rushing by a QB in the playoffs? The Kap who has won 4 playoff games in just 2 seasons as a starter? That's the Kap who you want to run away from the 49ers? YOU ARE NUTS. Kap needs to do the following: (1) Delete all social media accounts. He needs fewer distractions, not more. (2) Hire a full-time Sports Psychologist. There are many things that are detracting from his performances, including the huge contract. He is putting much too much pressure on himself to "make up" for the Super Bowl loss, and his current bosses are trying to take away all that made him unique and mold him into something he is not -- Alex Smith, part 2. He needs to relax and enjoy being an athlete. (3) After the season he needs to get away from everyone, take a fun trip, then train, train and train some more with a few of his good young teammates, a good coach and a sports psychologist.
    Dec 3, 2014 at 4:35 AM
    Response: Run away Kap? I never said that. I simply brought up his inconsistent play THIS season.
  • clint650
    it doesnt take a rocket scientist to see whats the problem. 1st problem is roman. he should have been fired after the superbowl. how do u pass 4 times in the 5 yard line with ngata hurt? we deserve that loss for not running the ball. 2nd problem is kaep and that huge contract. he did not deserve that contract yet we were stupid enough to pay him despite kaep not showing he deserved it. 3rd i love coach harbaugh but its also his fault kaep isnt getting any better. how the hell after our offense goes 3 and out does he not yell at kaep for not going over screenshots of what the defense is playing. he just wears his dumb cap and stands on the sideline and tries to look cute yet harbaugh lets him be. what u think bellicheck would do if kaep threw a pick and instead of going over his mistakes like every other qb in the league does he just puts on his hat and watches the game? bellicheck would sit him in a heartbeat or send him packing. thats the type of coach niners need now.
    Dec 3, 2014 at 1:30 AM
  • Milleneum
    Roman and Harbaugh are two sides of the same coin. Both have to go if we ever want to see the offense evolve from the stone age. While they got us to the Super Bowl, Roman and Harbaugh also lost the Super Bowl and last years Championship game by not having any real plan to score in the red zone. They haven't really had an idea of how to score in the red zone the entire time they have been here. I will not miss their style of football that went out of style 15 or 20 years ago.
    Dec 2, 2014 at 11:05 PM
  • marcus
    When the opposing defense knows exactly whats coming, and your play calling has no clear system, just flux of motions, weird packages, and terrible blitz pickups I'd call that less than adequate play calling!
    Dec 2, 2014 at 8:08 PM
  • Jose A. Garcia
    This team is far from the worst 49er teams we've seen. The fans comments most heard today remind me of the Jeff Garcia & T.O's last season with the 49ers. The fans wanted blood. Garcia went on to take other teams to the playoffs and Owens did well also. Flashy amazing WR's make fans go apeisht. Fans are ignorant. All the T.O.'s in the world could not keep Steve Young from his last concussion. The great 49ers teams was and always have been about the OFFENSIVE LINE. Bob McKittrick -- God Rest His Mighty Soul, was the guy that made the 49ers great through the 80's and early 90's. We remember 16,8, 80, 42, 36, 25, 97, but no one can remember Bob. His offensive line units, year after year were smart aggressive, and they were fast, they protected their quarterbacks damn good. We had smart quarterbacks, in Montana and Young; Garcia and Rattay were good also, but really had shitty protection much of the time. Bottom line, wide receivers are a dime a dozen. Offensive lines don't come cheap. But when you don't have a good one, you don't have an offense. No matter how many star receivers you have. QB can't throw passes under a dog pile. Running back got nothing w/o blockers.
    Dec 2, 2014 at 8:00 PM
  • Philip
    So who called Gore up the middle on 3rd and 20 in the Seattle game ( basically a give up play ). This team has too many weapons on offense to be this bad. Alex Smith and the Chiefs put up 24 against the Seahawks 2 weeks ago. This is all on Roman and his " heavy jumbo" packages on 3rd and short that get stuffed all the time. Kaps passes except a few in the Seattle game where all under 10 yards. Why is that? The Niners have scored 33 points total in the 4th quarter this year, dead last in the NFL. No half time adjustments on offense. Harbaugh needs to fire Roman now just like his brother fired his OC on Dec the 12, 2012. The Ravens lost 3 out of the last 4 regular season games but went on to win the Super Bowl
    Dec 2, 2014 at 7:38 PM
  • slick
    My suspicions of Greg Roman began in the NFC Championship game. Yes Kyle Williams was the obvious deserving scapegoat. But what about not calling on Frank Gore in the second half when in the first half the running game was gashing the NY Giants. Keep on calling the plays that are working until they stop it. I'm not sure if Roman wanted balance or over thought it, but that was a heck of a team that deserved to go to play the Patriots that year.
    Dec 2, 2014 at 7:26 PM
  • Zach Ameen
    Greg Roman and Kaepernick are weak links.
    Dec 2, 2014 at 7:06 PM
  • Saul
    I like the way your trying to sell us Greg Roman , but when you send a running play with supposedly a slightly slower Frank Gore on 3rd and 15 ,my question is what the hell. Makes no sense to me and the rest of the fan base.
    Dec 2, 2014 at 7:01 PM
  • dk57
    Angel Miranda nailed it when he said, "think first down instead of touchdown. Many games this year, some won, some lost, the 49ers needed a first down and Kap is chucking the ball 25 yards down field, low percentage stuff. And Jed if you are reading this, "KEEP HARBAUGH"!
    Dec 2, 2014 at 5:56 PM
  • Joe
    Here is a blame sheet in bullet points Balke - never replaced Delaine Walker (so underrated) never drafted wr with stretch ability Harbaugh and Roman - not coming up with creative game plan to use what you've got. See Chip Kelly with o-line injuries and Mark freekin Sanchez at QB...yet still winning. Harbaugh's grinding style wears on creativity. Kap - getting away from that QB that went into Gillet Stadium and stayed in the pocket... read the field and beat a Bellicheck defense without the read option plays. Put the dumbells down and learn to read a defense. Get that confidence back that this year zapped out of you.
    Dec 2, 2014 at 5:40 PM
  • David Fertz
    Greg Roman has provided vanilla playcalling because that best suits the personnel he has to work with. Could have had DeSean Jackson or traded up to get Odell Beckham, but now we have no vertical threat and yet we continue to call 3 and 4 wr sets.
    Dec 2, 2014 at 5:21 PM
  • Glen
    I remember when Harbaugh was hired, and at the press conference he said, "We're going to bring the West Coast Offense back to San Francisco." Hey Jim - I'm STILL waiting to see it!
    Dec 2, 2014 at 4:47 PM
  • angel miranda
    I think is plain and simple...but easier said then done, I think if they would only think first down instead of touchdown they could widen out the defense and they would be force to put that spy somewhere else. Let kap do his thing. Kap looks like a fish out of water out there. I still believe in kap, he just needs to evolve in the pocket passer everybody wants him to be.
    Dec 2, 2014 at 4:43 PM
  • Joe
    Look at when they have pulls and seal blocks going on as compared to straight runs. Look at the 3 screen plays they've called in two years. Look at the 3 and 4 WR sets they've gone with as compared to two TE's or a FB. No pistols formations anymore. Getting a few more good WR's was the worst thing they could've done. Feeding the ego of Roman and Harbaugh is so detrimental.
    Dec 2, 2014 at 4:12 PM
  • tee perez
    First off, to you who wrote this article, frank gore is STILL a great running back...and has not lost anything.....second the offensive line hasnt protected kaep or opened up holes for gore or hyde to explode out of .... but still roman has had chances to make sumthin out of nothin and has failed....or am I suppose to think we lost on a 1st and goal with one time out and plenty of time for gore or hyde to try n pound it in,, bcuz sumbody other then roman called for kaep to try n get it in there ??? I think not.... BAD PLAY CALLING..... AND POOR OBSERVATIONS AT IDENTIFYING THE RUSH ON IMPORTANT THIRD DOWNS....BOTTOM LINE ROMANS LOST HIS TOUCH....
    Dec 2, 2014 at 4:09 PM
    Response: "but still roman has had chances to make sumthin out of nothin..." I think you just proved my point. Agree to disagree on Gore. The blocking hasn't consistently been there, but there's no way he's the same back he's always been. There's a reason why Hyde gets the call late in games.
  • PapaNiner
    i believe GRO has done what he needed to do to make his QB as productive as he can be. I think Harbaugh knows this. As for the front office, they are responsible for the roster. Gotta blame someone if it doesn't work out. I think GRO is just an easy target.
    Dec 2, 2014 at 4:00 PM
    Response: Well said. A team featuring a bunch of possession receivers and a weak offensive line isn't keeping defensive coordinators up at night.
  • Dallas Niner Fan
    Great article, you make some great points. Can't we just fire Jed York and keep Harbaugh and company in tack?
    Dec 2, 2014 at 3:53 PM
    Response: Thanks. My concern is that Jed and Trent clearly have had their minds made up on letting Harbaugh go for sometime and no great turnaround in the coming weeks will change that.
  • altK
    Greg Roman's playcalling made sense when we had a power running game. Now that it's gone he is proving to the world that he is in over his head. I agree that Harbaugh is to blame as well as he also hears the plays and can veto them at anytime. This is his offense too. I think they're both after this season, regardless of if we make the playoffs or not.
    Dec 2, 2014 at 3:53 PM
  • MartyOne
    The offensive line really suck this year. Anthony Davis was out most of the season, and Boone skipped the entire training camp did not help. No consistency and chemistry when you have Marcus Martin as the new Center in the middle of the season, and Jonathan Martin filling in most of the season for injured A.Davis. As they say, everything starts up front. If the offensive line sucks, then you can forget about the run game, and forget about your passing game too. Kap is definitely not your pocket passer and hasn't shown any sign of progression on reading defenses or scramble to create a few more seconds to allow his WRs to get open (Russell Wilson can). Bottom line is: weak offensiveline weak QB play weak running game = a weak offense that is going nowhere.
    Dec 2, 2014 at 3:47 PM
  • vermonator
    It's not all Roman's fault, just most of it. That said, won't make any difference if he's fired now or at the end of the season. The offense is what it is.
    Dec 2, 2014 at 3:19 PM
  • Mike J
    Spot on. I keep saying that if you have a problem with Roman you really have a problem with Harbaugh. This is Jim's offense. I think you're being too nice about Kap. He has shown he will never be a pocket passer, so all this multiple receiver sets nonsense is meaningless. But he can be good if you allow him to be who he is. He's a runner who can throw the deep ball.
    Dec 2, 2014 at 3:02 PM
  • Eddie
    I lost any respect i had left for Roman after the Seattle game. He easily lost that game for us. And yes, I realize Kap threw two bad picks.
    Dec 2, 2014 at 2:49 PM

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