This is the time of year when we go through certain scenarios, and this is a lurking scenario: the option option.
The Niners have two players on their roster who are two of the greatest college players to ever play in an option offense. I’m talking about their last two second round picks, quarterback Colin Kaepernick and running back LaMichael James.
Here’s what Ron Jaworski recently said about the read option play: “The read option in the red zone is an added dimension that (Cam) Newton brings. His speed is a decisive factor. One element I’ve always talked about discussing Aaron Rodgers is the ability on third down to defeat the man coverage by running. Newton gives you that same quality. That’s a real problem for a defense. It limits their coverage concepts.”
Last season Cam Newton converted 40.32 percent of his third downs (10th best in the NFL) and scored touchdowns in 57.89 percent of his red zone trips (7th best), and his execution of the read-option play was a big reason he was so successful. Jaworski says speed is the decisive factor in that play, and Kaepernick happens to be slightly faster than Newton. James is faster than every running back on the Panthers.
Kaepernick and James have the speed and the talent to become one of the best read-option duos in the NFL.
If Alex Smith and the rest of the Niners offense don’t struggle on third down and in the red zone next season, they won’t need the option. Brilliantly, Trent Baalke has given Jim Harbaugh an intriguing backup option if the first option doesn’t pan out. Call it the 49ers option option.