49ers v. Rams: Position by position

Here’s how the 49ers stack up with the Rams position by position:

QUARTERBACKS: 49ers. The Rams have terrible quarterbacks.

RUNNING BACKS: 49ers. Zac Stacy is a promising young running back, but he averaged just 3.9 yards per carry last season, and he has no one proven behind him.

WIDE RECEIVERS: 49ers. San Francisco has three established receivers — Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree and Stevie Johnson. The Rams have zero established receivers.

TIGHT ENDS: 49ers. Jared Cook can’t block, and neither can Lance Kendricks.

OFFENSIVE LINE: 49ers. Scott Wells is a good center, and Greg Robinson may become a dominant tackle one day. But Joe Staley is better than Jake Long right now, Mike Iupati is better than Brandon Washington, and Alex Boone is better than Roger Saffold.

BASE DEFENSIVE LINE: 49ers. The Rams don’t have a dominant run stopper on their base D-line.

NICKEL DEFENSIVE LINE: Rams. St. Louis has one of the best Nickel D-lines in the NFL. Robert Quinn had 19 sacks last season and Chris Long had 10. The Rams drafted DT Aaron Donald in Round 1, and he had 11 sacks last season at the University of Pittsburgh.

LINEBACKERS: 49ers. Even without NaVorro Bowman, the 49ers have better linebackers than the Rams. Patrick Willis still is an excellent all-around defender, and Ahmad Brooks is one of the 49ers’ best run-stoppers.

CORNERBACKS: 49ers. Trumaine Johnson played well last season. He allowed just 523 yards in 892 snaps, and a 74.5 passer rating. But Janoris Jenkins was awful. He gave up seven touchdowns and a 115.3 passer rating last season.

SAFETIES: 49ers. Eric Reid was a Pro Bowler last season. The Rams don’t have any Pro Bowl safeties.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Rams.  The 49ers and Rams both have excellent punters and kickers.  But Tavon Austin is a bigger weapon as a punt returner than LaMichael James.

This article has 135 Comments

  1. So when you compare our receivers to the rams they are “established”…but against the seahawks they are worthless…gotchya

  2. All sounds about right. For once, I cannot disagree with Grant on this analysis. The game against the Rams at St. Louis will still be tough going, as all division games are on the road. However, I expect the Niners’ return game to considerably improve this season.

  3. The 49ers and Rams both have excellent punters and kickers. But Tavon Austin is a bigger weapon as a punt returner than LaMichael James.

    Average per Punt return:

    Tavon Austin – 8.5

    LMJ – 10.9

    1. Austin returned two punts for touchdowns last season. James never has returned a punt for a touchdown.

      1. i asked you this yesterday. you think LMJ will still be on the team this season? what do you think about the likelyhood that the Niners explore and go with another kick and punt returner this season? Ellington seems to be a candidate to try out in training camp and preseason. I’m guessing other options will come around as training camp draws near. LMJ is disgruntled but on the other hand he is useful in certain specific aspects of the Niner’s offense.

      2. Austin returned 1 punt for a TD, and LMJ had never returned punts before last year. In his first year doing it he was the 10 rated returner in the league. Just another case of ragging on a player because of where he was drafted and ignoring his production in other areas.

        Baalke has been adamant about not trading LMJ and the reason for that is he is already becoming one of the better return men in the league and has just scratched the surface of it.

        1. Better return men in the league? Are you kidding? He was a tad better than Williams but not once displayed the fearlessness required by a return man. Did he not fumble in the playoffs last year, or the year before?

          1. FDM,

            He was top ten in average in both KR and PR’s. He returned punts for the first time in his life last year. Can we give the guy a little credit? So because of one fumble you refuse to allow for the fact he could actually be a pretty good return man? He had a better average than Ginn did in his final season in SF as well.

            Some of you need to lay off this guy and stop judging him by his reaction to not being a bigger part of the offense. It’s not his fault he hasn’t been given an opportunity in the running game, and he’s become a pretty good return guy in the meantime.

            1. It’s not his fault he hasn’t been given an opportunity in the running game

              this is the part I majorly disagree with. James has had his opportunities in the past in games and in practice. I think the Niners know what they have in him.

        2. Except that LMJ has a serious case of fumblitis and muffitis. He will be cut, no one will trade for him, he isn’t worth a 8th rd. pick.

      3. So if Austin returned two punts for TDs and still averaged 2.4 yards LESS per punt return, he must have sucked on the rest.

    2. Rocket said:
      Average per Punt return:
      Tavon Austin – 8.5
      LMJ – 10.9
      Here are the two teams punt return average:
      49ers 8.9
      Rams 8.8

      But Tavon Austin is a bigger weapon as a punt returner than LaMichael James?? Do some research.

      1. Watch them play, stat guy. And count the touchdowns. One guy’s a home run threat and the other guy isn’t.

        1. The home run threat scored 1 TD on a 98 yard return. Playing the Grant Cohn take away game, take away that 98 yard run and the average per punt return is pathetic.

          And just for the record LMJ averaged 26.4 yards per KR. Austin averaged 22.1.

          You are fixated on names Grant; not production.

          1. 2 TDs is production. Opposing teams are frightened of Austin when he’s returning a punt because he’s a threat to score. Opposing teams aren’t afraid of James.

            James probably won’t even make the 49ers’ final roster, anyway.

            1. Stop saying 2 TD’s. It was 1, and it came on a 98 yard return. The rest of his season was below average.

              LMJ in one season became a top ten return man. He will make the team unless he is such a pain in the ass they have no choice but to get rid of him. It will be a big mistake if they dump him.

              1. Austin returned a punt 84 yards for a TD Week 4 against the Cowboys but it was called back. James’ longest punt return ever is 40 yards. His second longest ever is 21 yards. He’s not a scoring threat.

              2. Lol. You are so desperate to try and make a case that you included a return called back by a penalty. You’re better than that Grant. C’mon man.

                LMJ has been returning punts for one season and already ranks in the top ten. Give him some time and he’ll become one of the best in the league.

              3. I just remember both of those runs as I’m sure every Special Teams coach in the NFL does.

                LMJ needs a roster spot to become one of the best returners in the league. I’m sure he appreciates your support though.

              4. His arrogant glibness aside, i’m going to have side with Grant on this one.

                I’d take 1 TD over 0.1 yard/average production.

                It’s not like James is bad. But Gran’ts right, I’d fear Austin returning kicks more than James.

              5. I was leaning toward siding with grant on this one.
                but i cant!
                if austin has a 98 yard td AND STILL AVERAGES LESS YARDS THAN LMJ……..then austin is a “feast or famine” type of guy. Most of his returns must of been for negative or zero yards! so what if he “has the ability to take it to the house”. You think LMJ dosent have that same ability just cause you aint seen it yet? LMJ has only been our return man for about a year. im sure you think TA is faster than everybody but hes not much faster than LMJ.

              6. jshaw,

                think of it this way: say over the course of a season that Austin returns each kick/punt 3 yards less than James (and I’m pulling this number out of the air as an example)…which could equate to the .01 yards per return difference.

                So on each offensive Drive the Niners have +3 yards in field position.

                But the Rams got a TD.

                Now say you’re the Cardinals special teams coach evaluating your divisional opponents, whom do you fear more? The guy that consistently gets 3 more yards per return or the guy that has shown the ability to run the ball back for a TD?

              7. LMJ needs a roster spot to become one of the best returners in the league. I’m sure he appreciates your support though.

                I think I’ve made a pretty good case for him. You have name disease Grant. You are influenced by reputation instead of what is actually happening on the field. In both the Harvin and Austin cases, the numbers don’t stack up to the measure of respect you give them, and lack of respect you show Johnson and LMJ. You are the Daniel Snyder of bloggers ;)

              8. James has two punt returns longer than 20 yards in his career. He’s not a scoring threat, but he was a steady returner last season until he fumbled in the NFC Championship. Bad timing, I guess.

              9. His career consists of 23 punt returns Grant. I don’t think you are grasping the fact he had never done it before. In his first shot at returning punts he finished 10th overall in average. Tavon Austin was drafted based on his ability to return kicks along with being a Harvin like player on offense. The neophyte outperformed the guy with the rep. LMJ will continue to improve the more opportunities he gets.

                That’s not even taking his KR into account where he ranked top 5 in average.

                You are woefully underestimating this guy.

              10. Austin will improve, too, but he’s already a scoring threat as a returner. James never will be.

                You’re overrating a player who probably won’t be on the 49ers next season.

              11. Your clairvoyance is impressive. LMJ will never be a scoring threat and won’t be on the team; good to know.

      2. Which roster is deeper overall, 49ers or Rams?

        I think everyone would agree it’s the 49ers.

        If that’s true, it’s not much of a stretch to say the 49ers return units are filled with better players. This helps James with the average.

        Who would I rather put back there? Austin, without hesitation. With the talent of the 49ers around him I think his average goes up and he’s more of a home run threat.

        1. I think most would agree with you. My point is simply that the production doesn’t fit the narrative Grant wrote. LMJ is every bit as athletic as Austin, and in his first season doing something Austin has for years, he outperformed him. He also posted a better average than Ginn did with the same team a year before. Based on that information it only stands to reason that LMJ will likely improve on his top ten finish and become a pretty good return man. Simple as that.

          1. “Tavon Austin is a bigger weapon as a punt returner than LaMichael James.”

            Here is what Grant said originally. I don’t see any narrative different than the one you just agreed with.

            1. The discussion wasn’t about that statement. It was about Grants blind devotion to a name that didn’t have the production he was labelling him with.

              1. “I think most would agree with you.”

                Your words. All I did was say the same thing as Grant a different way.

              2. Many did not include me. That was the point. Some tend to focus on the name and reputation instead of actual production. Grant has done it twice in the past two days in regards to Harvin and Austin.

              3. “Many did not include me. That was the point.”

                So you don’t agree that the 49ers roster is deeper and better than the Rams?


              4. No I don’t agree that Austin is a bigger weapon as a punt returner. He is severely overrated.

              5. Not just stats. I’ve watched LMJ at Oregon and also watched Austin at WVU and LMJ was the better player. Austin was a multipurpose guy who rang up a lot of yards but as a pro I don’t see it.

      3. Rocket,

        “I don’t think you are grasping the fact he had never done it before.”

        James returned punts his last season at Oregon.

        1. Yeah a grand total of13. Hardly comparable to Austin who did it throughout his College career.

          Austin is a good player but it’s amazing how quickly it’s forgotten what a great college player LMJ was and the simple truth is he was better at both punt and kick returns than Austin this past season.

          1. James’ higher return average over a couple dozen punts last year doesn’t make him a better returner than Austin.

            1. Well the numbers say differently Grant. Austin had one huge return the entire season and the rest of the time was below average.

              1. Two, but one was called back. It’s not like James has had any TD returns called back. He’s not a home run threat.

            2. Not sure I agree about better from a consistency standpoint, but Austin is definitely the more explosive of the two.

              1. Yup. Austin wasn’t particularly consistent last season, but he improved as the season went on. He played like a rookie.

              2. That explosion netted about 5 1/2 yards a return and one 98 yarder that still placed him 2 yards behind LMJ.

                You guys keep saying it yet the facts don’t support your argument.

              3. Punt Returns for touchdowns as a professional:

                Austin 1 James 0

                The numbers actually do support the argument.

          2. Rocket

            “Yeah a grand total of13.”

            Austin had only 15 his last season at WV.

            “Hardly comparable to Austin who did it throughout his College career.”

            Austin didn’t start returning punts until his junior year.

              1. What are you trying to argue? That James will improve but Austin won’t? It stands to reason that both will improve. But the fact of the matter is that one is a threat to take it the distance and one isn’t.

              2. Not obsessed at all Grant. Somebody has to cut through the BS is all. Austin, and Harvin for that matter, are not as good as you make them out to be. The numbers clearly show that.

              3. I just made him out to be more dangerous than James, which is obvious. To say one is more consistently productive than the other is absurd. James has 26 career punt returns and Austin has 32. Way too small of a sample size to make stats your entire argument, Rocket.

              4. Rocket,

                Yeah, I was fine after showing you were wrong to keep repeating that James had never returned punts before or that Austin had done it throughout his college career.

              5. It goes both ways Grant. If we can’t go by the numbers that clearly favor LMJ, then you can’t say Austin is a bigger weapon based on that same small sample size.

                Your opinion is based on College stats; not pro stats.

              6. Good old king of semantics.

                We’ve all used hyperbole at times on here. Clearly the point was one guy had done it far more than the other.

              7. Ability shown in the pros, too. Returning a punt for a touchdown in the NFL always is impressive. Austin’s 98-yard TD return was electrifying. James could not have returned that same punt for a touchdown.

              8. The 5 1/2 or so average the rest of the time was terrible.

                As usual It will be proven on the field

              9. Rocket, I get the point you are making, but Austin is a very good punt returner. Grant has mentioned one return he had called back, but he also had plenty of others. I believe he had over 300 return yards called back last season, something like that. His teammates let him down big time.

                I like LMJ as a punt returner because he is pretty consistent at getting you some yards. But Austin is a threat to take it the distance every punt.

              10. Scooter,

                I like to debate so I often will take a position in order to see if I can make a legitimate argument for it. In this case I saw an opportunity to debunk the myth that some players seem to have around them. Austin is overrated to me. He was a good College player as a do everything kind of guy, but he was a part of a lousy team at WVU that used him so much because they didn’t have much else. He is a good player, but I feel he was severely over drafted and the Rams are going to regret taking him with the high pick they did. That is my opinion.

                Now if someone wants to say that Austin is more likely to return a punt for a TD, I would tend to agree with that but it’s not just because of Austin being viewed as more explosive. Jack laid out an argument that the Niners have better players and therefore should have better return teams around LMJ. I disagree. The Niner return teams have not been overly impressive, and all you have to do is look at Ginn’s average the year before to see that. LMJ had a better return average than Ginn did in his final year as a 49er.

                If somebody wants to say Austin is more explosive and has a better chance of scoring a TD, fine, but that does not make him a better Punt returner. If he’s averaging a terrible return avg. per punt on 99% of his returns which he was in this case, then that is not a good Punt returner imo. What he is, is a guy who will give you a great play once or twice a season and put you in a hole the rest of the time.

                Contrast that with LMJ who had a 40 yard return as his best, but averaged a better yards per return than Austin. It’s a case of whether you prefer the consistency or the once in a blue moon explosion. I don’t count kicks that are called back. They are called back for a reason and to try and use them as a positive to build up a player is disingenuous to me.

                As I also mentioned, LMJ is not as experienced a Punt returner as Austin, and he was also the better KR last year between the two. Maybe that will change this season and Austin will explode and become what Grant thinks he already is, but if we are looking at the two players side by side and comparing their seasons, LMJ was the better player.

                What I find interesting is the overwhelming support to trade or cut him. It doesn’t make any sense to cut a guy who was top ten in Punt return average and top 5 in KR average. I think fans tend to get swayed by emotion and in this case the belief that LMJ is disgruntled and a problem is driving the negative sentiment. If we look at it on a football level only, it’s a no brainer to keep him and if you have too many RB’s you get rid of the guy who doesn’t offer the extra value. In this case that is Kendall Hunter or Frank Gore, and somehow I don’t think Gore is going anywhere.

              11. I agree he was over drafted rocket and I think he’ll be a decent but not great WR in the NFL. But you argue that Austin’s return average bar one return was not that special. I would suggest the only reason his average wasn’t special is because his team repeatedly got called for flags taking away most of his return yards.

                Yes, you can argue that without those flags he wouldn’t have had those yards anyway, but he would definitely have had more, and his average even without the TD would have been pretty good.

                Austin is a very good punt returner with the ability to take it the distance. He scares the heck out of punting teams. That also impacts on how other teams punt, as they sometimes intentionally try to keep it away from him and give up distance as a result.

                As for LMJ, I thought he did a good job last season. Consistently picked up positive yardage. But I think he should be a goner not because of his abilities but because he clearly doesn’t want to be here anymore if he isn’t going to be getting a larger role in offense. I don’t see that happening, and no point holding onto a disgruntled player.

              12. Just found this Scooter so I’m a little late in addressing it.

                Austin had one punt return for a TD at WVU. His average his Sr. year was 11. This is not a big time return guy. Somehow someway he has been given that rep, but it’s unwarranted and certainly unearned. He had a great off season that inflated his value for teams that were looking for a Sproles type of guy. If you watched him last year you could see he didn’t have the extra gear or moves needed to be a big time player. He’s quick, he’s fast, he can do some things well, but he’s small and doesn’t play as fast as the 40 time suggests.

                As far as LMJ goes, he hasn’t become a distraction. He’s made veiled comments out of frustration but he certainly is not an issue in the locker room, at least there have been no reports of that nature. He’s a competitor who wants to play. I don’t think the team has a problem with that and in fact would probably prefer that to apathy instead.

                He’s got a 4.5 yards per carry average on the carries he has gotten. His issue I’m guessing is that they don’t give him opportunities to build on that and he has a good case. He has taken on a role as a returner and done it well. All he wants is a chance to be a bigger factor in the offense.

                I am not a relative or even a fan of his College team. I’m just amazed that they used a 2nd round pick on one of the most explosive RB’s in the draft that year and then didn’t find a way to use him. I get LMJ’s frustration because I’m frustrated too. This kid is a weapon that doesn’t get out of the case. It’s a shame.

              13. One other thing I forgot to mention, that Punt return for a TD against the Colts was a nice play, but happened because the Colts let up believing he would not pick the ball up, which by all rights he shouldn’t have. When he did, they were unprepared and he had a pretty clear run down the sideline. Not exactly an example of great Punt return ability.

  4. is this a position vs. same position personnel comparison (which would be irrelevant………… It’s not like Kaepernick and Bradford take turn throwing passes, pass blocking, catching and covering each other.) or a game match up listing of personnel?

    If it’s the later, then you should chart a QB vs. the opposing team’s pass defense, sacks, passer rating and picks. running backs/run defense, yards, yards/attempt, TDs…etc…and same stats given up. same with receivers and coverage….O-line rushing stats and passing stats/sack stats…D-line/front 7 against rush and pass stats, sacks, qb pressures etc…

    remember, football is a team game and the play of one unit effects other units. it’s not a simple as straight up singular player match ups. players don’t play in a vacuum. there are schemes to consider. units which effect the down and distance for other units , positions which effect the play calling for other positions..etc…

    Certainly you can look at individual performances and how they effect a game. but it’s best to look at them with the context of the overall game which takes in to consideration the other players, coaches, philosophies etc…

  5. Is Brandon Lloyd not on our roster? Is Lloyd not established? Wait til someone other than yourself sets the roster Grant. Its annoying.

    1. He probably won’t make the team. He wouldn’t be a top-three receiver on the Niners and he doesn’t play special teams.

    2. If Brandon Lloyd was established at one point, I’d say he un-established himself by taking a year off. He needs to re-establish himself, but I’d be surprised if he does it here.

  6. Are our corners really that much better?

    It almost seems even when just talking about our starters….but if you’re talking depth than 49ers easily have the advantage.

    1. Grant’s on record as not being a fan of the Niner’s Corners. So that must mean he thinks the Ram’s Corners really suck!

    1. I’d give the 49ers the advantage. I really don’t like the Rams’ OC, little Schotty. He’s terrible. And Jeff Fisher is over ratted.

      1. i’ve only watch a little of the Jet’s games. but my impression of Brian Schottenhiemer is that he’s an Air Coryell disciple by way of Nor Turner and his Dad. So that he takes his dad’s “Marty Ball” and mixes it with Turner’s (what I would call) “Ground Coryell” (think Emmitt Smith power running to set up vertical passing). The difference between Turner and Brian Schotty is that Turner has the ability to creatively expand his passing game and morph it into more Air Coryell when his QB is ready (Aikman’s development, and a year or so of good passing from Rivers). Brian just isn’t that creative or good at getting his players to produce in those expanded passing situations. However in Brian defense, Turner had Aikman, Brees and Rivers while Kurt mostly had Mark Sanchez.

    2. On a side note… am I the only one that hears “Johnny Manzier” (the men’s bra scheme from Seinfeld) every time someone says “Johnny Manziel?”

  7. You should include a comparison of the coaching staffs. You seem to give the edge to the Seahawks all the time in coaching. Is Fisher/Williams/Schottenheimer better or worse than Harbaugh/Fangio/Roman?

      1. I would agree that the overall coaching staff for the 9ers is much better than the Rams. I think Gregg Williams is the most overrated defensive coach in football. He comes up with all these crazy exotic blitz packages that are just enough to get his teams beat.

  8. May I change the topic a second with this from Maiocco today on Stevie Johnson:
    Veteran wide receiver Stevie Johnson, a San Francisco native acquired Friday in a trade with the Buffalo Bills, is beginning to learn a new playbook that reads like Chinese, he said, . . . .

    Is it any wonder that, with the talent we have on offense, they don’t have more of a punch? We should be routing the bad teams and taking our starters out by the fourth quarter. When I read this kind of stuff about Roman’s offense, my stomach turns.

    1. ahhh…the obligatory daily complaint about Roman’s Offense.

      every so often, I’ll make a comment…hopefully eventually enough people will understand.

      IT’S HARBAUGH’S OFFENSE. DESPITE THE FACT THAT HE’S A FORMER QB, HE’S A GROUND AND POUND BO SCHEMECHLER DISCIPLE. HE’S A CONTROL FREAK THAT USES THE WEST COAST OFFENSE BECAUSE OF IT’S BALL CONTROL AND LOW TURN OVER CHARACTERISTICS. If Roman left, maybe some of the wonky situational play calling would change but you’re still not going to see the Niners morph into a 3 or 4 WR aerial assault.

      1. I’ve heard (even going back to Jimmy Raye) the system the 49ers use to relay calls onto the field is cumbersome. Add to that the obligatory line shifting and the QB barely has time to scan the defense before snap.

        Instead of putting pressure on the defense, our offense seems to put pressure onto itself with all those hurried snap situations, trying to beat the play clock.

        I watched the Raiders vs Vikings super bowl the other day. Stabler would casually stroll up to the line like he just got out of bed. As soon as he was under center the ball was snapped and Shell, Upshaw and the gang fired forward in a simple drive block.

        I’m not advocating changing to that offense, but 2-3 times more per game a run play on hut 1 (sans the shifting) would keep defenses honest. As it is, defenders are relaxed early in the snap count because they know the 49ers won’t run the play from the initial formation.

        For those in the know, does the 49ers system of getting plays onto the field involve more steps compared to most teams?

        1. Stabler would casually stroll up to the line like he just got out of bed.

          That’s probably not far from the truth. I think Stabler played a few games after an all night bender.

        2. I think they do have a more complex play calling structure than most teams. But I can’t really say that for certain.

          Harbaugh has said that he favors burning time off the clock above other advantages of a faster paced offense.

          IMO if you have more than a 3 point lead, then by all means, burn the clock. Otherwise, mix it up to the best tactical advantage. To be fair the Niners did try a little bit of a hurry up offense a couple of times during the regular season (outside of the final 2 minutes).

          Strategically, a hurry up offense and/or a quick snap can help an offense by freezing the defense in their place, it’s less for the QB to have to read.

          However, remember that Harbaugh is philosophically a control freak. In order to extensively run a quick snap or hurry up offense you need to be able to have your receivers run various routes from the same formation. instead of relying on various formations to confuse the defense (which requires lots of player substitution, shifts and movements), the offense relies on the receiver’s abilities to vary their routes to confuse the defense. one method relies on the coaches’ ability to disguise plays and the other the player’s ability to disguise routes and the QB’s ability to read initially read defenses in synch with their receivers. Guess which philosophy matches the Harbaugh/Roman?

  9. I think the pressure is on Roman. Stevie is more than capable of producing against any slot cornerback the opponent puts on him. He has to diversify his offense, utilize all the weapons in his arsenal for Kaepernick to target…..

    1. They have talked about changing their offensive philosophy this offseason but looking at the personnel, its hard to imagine them going to a more pass orientated scheme. I think its clear they need to be more explosive on offense and not rely so much on the defense to win games.
      A legit return man is the biggest need right now as it would help the defense and offense and for years now, has been a major disappointment. Hopefully one of the news kids can emerge. LMJ will not be on the roster this season.

      1. where or when have they talked about changing the offensive philosophy? I do believe there will be some new wrinkles and probably more 3WRs used in some situations. But a change in philosophy would be dramatic.

          1. *sigh* why do I bother sometimes?

            do you wanna bet that I’ve read all those sites already and probably know more than you do? (yes I know I’m arrogant).

        1. Maiocco has been reporting since the Seahawk defeat, that Harbaugh wants to better utilize the strength of Kaepernick by going downfield more often. Hyde is skilled in the spread offense, and is an excellent receiving back. I’m not looking for a 180 degree turn in philosophy, but I do expect an incremental increase in 3 wide receiver sets. The increase may even end up being significant depending upon the success it brings….

          1. Exactly. It will never be a complete shift in philosophy but it has been reported and every else knows that the 49ers have to be more dynamic in their passing offense.

          2. oh, no doubt. I wouldn’t call that a philosophical change. but one way to beat the press cover 3 by the Seahawks is to attack with a 3 verticals concept or in the very least pressing the seam. I’m surprised that there wasn’t a receiver going vertical against Chancellor on every pass play when they were in their base defense. The SS has to determine weather or not to defend the flat in zone and pass off the receiver or stick with him and go vertical.

              1. that may be true to a certain extent which means they need another vertical option to threaten the seems. Maybe they’ll work Ellington in there? Or maybe one of the 3 “#1 receivers” (probably not Boldin).

              2. McDonald is the guy that needs to start taking some of those hits by Kam. He’s young enough to believe he’s impervious to them….

          3. I think one change may be the check release by the half back. The Niners have been vulnerable to green dog blitzes. because the back will check for a blitz and decide to stay in and block. a linebacker will show blitz and then drop which then leaves the back in the pocket pretty much useless. the Niners started sending Gore out on passes more often last year as a dump off option. but they still prefer to keep him in their for added protection and don’t trust the QB to make the quick enough read without the extra protection.

            1. actually to be technically correct, the “Green Dog Blitz” happens when the Niners keep a back in to block and a backer that would drop into coverage then has the responsibility to blitz. In order to negate that the back would have to be able to into coverage and the QB would have to be able to read (most likely) a man on man coverage on the back and weather it can be beaten or if it’s some sort of zone and if the back will drop into a hole in the coverage.

              but basically, at times the Niner’s offensive blocking scheme creates an additional pass rusher.

    2. Dallas with JJ had a groundnpound offense, but did you ever hear about a Dallas wide receiver say Norv Turner’s playbook was written in Chinese? I favor an offense who primary weapon is the run, so long as it can pass when it has to. But ours often fails, so good defenses stack the box and dare us to throw. Why is that? Read between the lines of what Johnson is saying. He was very successful on an offense that is half what we have.

  10. The pressure is on both Harbaugh and Roman to make the passing attack a bigger part of the offense and one that is more explosive. I think the trade for Johnson sent a message that is the plan.

    1. Drafting Lattimore and Carlos “El Guapo” Hyde sent a message too. Sure the Niners want an improved passing game but “ground and pound” will continue for many years.
      Total offensive balance is the goal.

      El Guapo is Hyde’s nickname, if anyone didn’t know.

      1. Love the nick name! Who gave it to him? Girlfriend? Coach? Mom? Sam from the Rams? You look at how he runs people over and “Handsome” is not the first thing that pops in my head.

        1. Not sure where the nickname came from but it sounds good. He uses it in his twitter name too.
          “Carlos the Jackal” probably relates more to Hyde’s running style than “El Guapo” (handsome fella) does. :)

    2. No doubt Rocket.

      I think perhaps they started out with that mentality last year, especially in that GB game. Then reality started to set in of how bad our receiving corp really was at the time, Boldin and a bunch of nobodys. That’s when we started to see them really get conservative again and return back to their “just give Gore the rock” mentality. Would you say that’s accurate?

      I think you’re exactly right that this season they fully intend to open it up. There is talent all across the board and this will definitely not be a One-receiver, one-tight end show anymore. I think Roman has to be licking his chops with all the variation in talent he sees now, especially compared to last year.

  11. I agree, although the talent gap is closing. Fisher is a good coach. This is more of a position group comparison, rather than a head to head matchup thing.

  12. But Tavon Austin is a bigger weapon as a punt returner than LaMichael James.

    If he is, it isn’t by much.

    2013 numbers for each:

    Austin – 33 returns, 8.5 yards/return, 1 TD
    James – 23 returns, 10.9 yards/return, 0 TD

    By the way, if you take out Austin’s 98 yard TD return, he averaged 5.7 yards/return, which is anemic. I know how much you value arguments like that.

    1. Oops, I see that rocket and CFC already called you out on that point. Sorry for the unnecessary repetition.

  13. Is your assessment biased in any way. Hmmmmmmmm. Here is one for you in the fisher years, with Bradford as quarterback, and an experienced defensive coordinator the Rams 1-0-1 aganst the Winers. Good luck this year, especially since Bradford only gets hurt every other year, so this his year. Good Luck

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