Jimmy Raye grades his new beef

As we walked off the field Saturday, a couple of the veteran 49ers beat writers told me that if I hadn’t had the experience before, I was in for a treat with Jimmy Raye. The SF offensive coordinator is known for conducting the most entertaining media sessions on the West Coast.

 

It didn’t come as a surprise. I covered Raye for his two seasons in Oakland, 2004-05, and I knew he could spin a yarn. But my exposure was limited; we didn’t get to talk to assistant coaches much in those days. I’m looking forward to hearing Raye on a regular basis.


Here are some highlights from Saturday’s talk.

 

233 – 209 = 24 POUNDS

Raye on the difference between RB Glen Coffee and rookie Anthony Dixon: “The biggest difference is obviously size. Run talent and size, explosive quickness with size, short area quickness with size and explosion and the physicality that he plays. Again, I temper that by saying the biggest transition for a college back coming into pro football is learning to play without the ball in pass protection, and you can’t evaluate those things or see those things until you actually put the pads on. But, doing what we are doing in the installation, running out there in shorts and T-shirts, it’s been positive.”

 

AND A FOOTBALL-SIZED FOOTBALL

Raye on undrafted free-agent QB Jarrett Brown and whether he was having trouble gripping the ball: “No, Jarrett Brown has a basketball-size hand, so his problem wasn’t gripping the ball. I think probably the combination of trying to call the plays, trying to make the reads and trying to throw the ball, and coordinating all that with the footwork. Some of that may have gotten out of sequence. That caused some of that, but it has nothing to do with his ability to grip the football.”

 

WHY THE PAST COUPLE DAYS DIDN’T MEAN A WHOLE LOT

Raye on whether his rookies can make the offense more physical right away: “Somewhere between now and August, I’ll be able to answer that for you. I think the only way you can judge a football player is to watch him play football, and the things that we are doing now don’t equate to playing football. You also have to remember, these guys haven’t played a game of football since November or December. Then their focus was on training for the combine, which has nothing to do with playing football, and then come into a minicamp where they get football terminology and football action and skill, and they are training since their last college football game in December. That’s as far removed from anything else that they’ve done. We can’t jump to judgment until they actually get into the environment of football, start conditioning for football and learning the system of football that we have. Then, being able to do that at a competitive level when somebody is hitting them upside the head, so we have to take our time with these youngsters and get them to the point where they can play football and show us.”

 

MORE LIKE 654 POUNDS, BUT WHO’S COUNTING?

Raye on whether the components are in place for a more smash-mouth running game: “Oh, yes. I would definitely say compared to a year ago, and probably on any given year, if you were to get 600 pounds of offensive linemen in the first round of the draft and add another 240 pounds of runner to that, it would be a reason for optimism.”

 

TRANSLATION: BECAUSE YOU CAN’T WORK YOUR FIRST DRAFT PICK TO DEATH

Raye on why T Anthony Davis skipped the final team period Saturday: “Because we had given him all of the snaps in the previous group and the previous team that we had, and then we had a special deal for them when we were having 7-on-7. We didn’t want to overwork him or flip him over to another side, so to be able to get to what we wanted to get through this afternoon and have enough bodies, there wasn’t any reason here to take a chance and overwork any of them.”

 

BLAME IT ON THE ROCKETTES

On what kind of shape Davis is in: “I think he’s like all the other guys out there. I think he has a ways to go conditioning-wise. As I mentioned previously before, they haven’t played a lot of football since last December, they’ve been training for the combine and then they’ve been flying on planes to Radio City Music Hall and meeting. I think there’s a lot of things that go into that. I’m not a physical therapist. All I know is what I see, that most of them have to get into football shape.”

 

CAN’T SPELL BYHAM WITHOUT THE ‘Y’

Raye on TE Nate Byham’s role in the offense: “He will get in line with the tight ends. He’ll compete for a position on the team. I don’t think, at this time, to have a defined role for him or any of these other guys. A more distinct answer would be that he would play more Y in our system than F, but that wouldn’t mean that he would be excluded from the F position. He seems to be more suited to be the Y, which is the tight end person rather than the motion, move guy at the F. So his snaps would probably be more at tight end than Y if you will, then he would be at the other position.”

 

GLAD TO HEAR HIS HEAD DOESN’T WEIGH 35 POUNDS

Raye on why RB Anthony Dixon had so much trouble keeping his feet Saturday: “Yes, I think that would be non-football legs. You have to remember all these guys are young, full of anxiety, got coaches hollering at them, telling them all new verbiage and different things, trying to do the best they can, without a lot of conditioning. So, I think it’s a combination, as I look at them, without the exchange of people that you normally have. We’ve got one guy to take every play of all of the sessions that we have, without being in football shape. Even in football shape that would be difficult.”

 

MISSING A CHANCE TO GO ALL DENNY GREEN ON US…

Raye on whether Davis and Mike Iupati are what he thought they were (athletically): “Yes, they have been. You have to take that and weigh it against what they are blocking and what they are lining up against. This is a rookie free-agent tryout camp. These aren’t NFL players for the most part. What I’ve seen from them from the tape, when we drafted them and anticipated everything, they’ve shown the athleticism, the quickness, the explosion, the power, the heavy hands, the ability to drop their weight, sink and anchor. In the drills, they’ve shown all of that. Now, when Justin Smith and Kentwan Balmer, those guys, get here, if that continues to be the case, then we’ll move forward.”

 

ALEX BOONE IS A MAN, YES A BIG MAN

Raye on whether he sees a difference in T Alex Boone, compared to a year ago: “Tremendous. Probably, even to the layman’s eye, it’s very obvious that he’s changed his body. His conditioning is better and if you take him, like you are talking about these other guys, a year ago that came in with no conditioning, non-football legs and look at him a year ago and look at him today, having been a part of the program for a year, then the weight program, the running and the conditioning. If you take the people that we are starting with that have the same opportunity and they flourish to that point, then you have something.”

 

HECK, LET’S CHART THE PROGRESS OF EVERY ALEX IN THE PAST YEAR

Raye on whether he sees growth from QB Alex Smith: “There’s a tremendous change in him from the way he carries himself and walks in and out of the building with an air of confidence, a totally different guy. If you want to digress to when he came here a year ago and he was six or seven weeks into the year, it’s a totally different guy. In terms of his confidence, familiarity with what he’s doing, his sense of entitlement, I think all of those things are manifesting themselves right now because of the success that he had, even though some people may deem it as minimal or maybe even being a little suspect about it. For him, from what I’ve seen, there’s been a tremendous change.”