49ers: Out-Thinking Themselves

Sep 24, 2003 at 12:00 AM


Terry Donahue and John York hired Dennis Erickson they did so amidst overtures of a more explosive and aggressive offense. The 49ers would now employ more three, four, and five wide receiver sets. They would open up the offense. We would return to the "glory days” of 49er post-season bliss.

Yet the staples of the west coast offense engrained into this storied franchise are hidden under all that public relations fluff.

My eight year-old brother knows that the west coast offense is predicated on short, quick, timely passes. The slant, the screen, and the wide receiver drag are the norm. When Mariucci held the reins of the offense, those things disappeared. All I remember seeing is Hearst and Barlow. The running game in and of itself is not a bad thing. Being one-dimensional is.

For so many years we saw Jerry Rice catch a slant pass and break it open for another 20 yards. Rice's average yards-per-catch was high not because he caught the deep ball, but because he had the ability to break any play open at any time. The west coast offense relies on wide receivers making plays.

Erickson was supposed to bring it all back. The glory, the offense, a new sense of ingenuity that would create a hybrid offense, a combination of the west coast system made famous here in San Francisco, and an aggressive deep attack.

What the 49ers got, however, was predictability.

Jeff Garcia said, "(The Browns) had the right calls for what we were trying to do and that didn't allow the ball to go in the end zone to T.O. That's how the game works sometimes."

How can the 49ers improve an offense if the defense knows what coming?

"There were plays that we called, but based on the defensive coverage ... it's not like you can just call a play and say, 'We're going to throw it to T.O. in this situation.' You also have to consider what the defense is doing."

And on Sunday, the Browns' defense did it right.

Now for the fist time in recent memory, the offense has to rely on the defense. Jim Mora's unit has played 3 great games. Sure, there is the occasional lapse here and there, but on the whole the defense is playing with renewed vigor behind a healthy Jaime Winborn. Sunday's outcome cannot be attributed to the all too familiar pass interference penalties on Mike Rumph, or on the Browns' final drive, or even on Jim Mora's play calling.

"They kept a (running) back and tight end in for protection," Mora said.  "If we were going to send a blitz, we would have to send eight guys, that's an all-out blitz."

There are limits to what the 49er's banged up secondary can do. The defense can do most of it, but it's called a football TEAM.

It all falls on the shoulders of the offense. For a head coach who is known as an offensive guru, this problem should be a quick fix. Get back to the west coast basics. Throw the slants, throw the screens, and for god sakes roll Garcia out. It's no secret that he is more comfortable and more accurate outside the pocket. I get a little worried when I can tell you what play the Niners are going to run simply by their formation.

One can only blame injuries for so long. The best teams always overcome adversity to win when they have to. The 1994 49ers showed us what that meant after a humiliating loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. The 2001 49ers showed us again winning overtime game after overtime game on their way to a 12-4 regular season mark. The level of tenacity on this year's squad will make or break the season.

The 2003 49ers are better than the Rams, they are better than the Browns, and they are better than they have been playing. Special teams are finally back after being MIA for a couple of seasons. The defense is there and even the kicking game might be there. Now, the offense is sputtering.

Erickson must realize that his personnel is suited for a specific type of offense. Garcia is mobile; instead of making him sit in the pocket on a seven-step drop make him get rid of the ball after three steps. It would help, being as the offensive line is banged up. Three steps, five steps at most, then release the ball to Owens on a slant. Let him break a couple and show why he's the best in the game. Roll Garcia out near the goal line. If Garcia is going to play with a "dive head first” mentality, it might as well be a dive into the end zone.

Erickson's time is now. He has to show the fans that HIS team has what it takes. Cut down on the penalties, execute, and get back to the basics. If Erickson concentrates too much on the razzle-dazzle, the 5-wide sets, and the vertical passing game, he will have the 49ers out-thinking themselves. Use what works, its called "what works” for a reason. The rest will fall nicely into place.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


0 Comments

  • No Comments

Facebook Comments



More San Francisco 49ers News



49ers-Jets Injury Report: George Kittle, Jason Verrett ruled out; Jamison Crowder out for New York

By David Bonilla
Sep 18, 2020

The San Francisco 49ers are preparing for their Week 2 contest against the New York Jets on Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Tight end George Kittle missed his third practice of the week and has been ruled "out" of Sunday's game due to a knee injury. Kittle suffered the injury just before halftime during Week 1's loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Cornerback Jason Verrett is the only other 49ers player who has officially been ruled "out" — other than those on injury lists. Defensive end Dee Ford experienced some neck stiffness this week and underwent further tests. He has been listed as "questionable" to play against the Jets. On the Jets' side, wide receiver Jamison Crowder has been ruled out due to a hamstring injury.

Read the Full Article


49ers tried to tune out unique challenges of 2020 in Week 1 loss

By Kirk Larrabee
Sep 13, 2020

2020, as everyone knows, has been an utterly horrible year for much of humanity. And on Sunday, during their Week 1 24-20 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, the San Francisco 49ers had to deal with the unusual circumstances the events of 2020 are presenting to NFL teams and found them to be quite noticeable, even if they weren't to blame for what went wrong in the game. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 49ers played their home opener Sunday in front of an empty stadium with piped-in crowd noise and socially distanced cheerleaders wearing masks. Sunday also marked their first time playing any sort of game during the 2020 season due to the fact that COVID-19 caused the NFL to cancel every game on the preseason schedule. To make matters worse, the 49ers had to continue to deal

Read the Full Article


Kyle Shanahan doesn't rule out 49ers signing Mohamed Sanu, discusses Ziggy Ansah

By David Bonilla
Sep 14, 2020

Head coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed Sunday's report that the San Francisco 49ers plan to host veteran pass rusher Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah this week for a workout. "I've always been a fan of Ziggy," Shanahan told reporters via Zoom on Monday. "Playing against him and stuff, he's always been a real good player. With (defensive line coach) Kris (Kocurek) having such a good relationship with him over the years, coaching him in Detroit, so we've always kept in contact with him. "I don't know what the plan is yet, but we're bringing him in tomorrow to work him out, see where he's at, and we'll see how it goes." Ansah has recorded 228 tackles, 50.5 sacks, four

Read the Full Article

Featured

More Featured Stories

More by Oscar Aparicio

All Articles by Oscar Aparicio

More Articles

All Articles
Share 49erswebzone