Q&A: The run game
When I dipped into the mailbag this morning there seemed to be four topics, in particular, that dominated the thoughts of 49ers fans. Therefore, over the course of the day, I’ll post Q&As on each of those issues.
First up: Jimmy Raye’s offense and the run game.
Q: Will (the 49ers) take 4 running backs onto the ’09 roster? (Brian D)
A: Frank Gore, Glen Coffee, Michael Robinson and Moran Norris are going to be on the team. They can certainly get by with those four players, but I think they want to keep around Kory Sheets, too.
Sheets has a lot of talent. One team source told me he has more talent than Coffee, but their different kinds of backs, too. It had to be encouraging for the 49ers to see make an immediate correction from his first game. Remember, when he stepped out of bounds with less than two minutes to play against the Broncos while the 49ers were trying to protect a lead? In the same situation against the Raiders, Sheets went down in bounds to keep the clock running.
Robinson is such a valuable player on this team. He can serve as a backup halfback and fullback while also being the team’s best special-teams player. Robinson can fill in at fullback, but if they needed a fullback later in the season, they can always re-sign Zak Keasey.
Q: Any thoughts on Raye’s play calling to this point? I know preseason is vanilla, but in your expertise, will he approach Norv Turner in that regard? (Vito L)
A: The 49ers tried a reverse the other night. They have their version of the Single-Wing (called the Taser) as part of their base offensive package. It’s the exhibition season. The 49ers aren’t trying to get fancy in these games that have no significance.
Q: Is our new offense going to put me asleep? After years of watching Jerry Rice, Joe Montana, Steve Young and other greats of the passing game, I am worried that our new philosophy is going to make for very boring offensive football. (Alex L)
A: Coach Mike Singletary and offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye seem to be on the same page. They want a no-frills offense that plays to the team’s strengths. The strength of this offensive unit is a power-running game. I’m sure some people – such as the 49ers’ offensive line – find that immensely enjoyable. Personally, if I were you, I wouldn’t be expecting to see the 49ers score five touchdowns a game.
Q: Frank Gore is the center of our offense, but is the organization confident that Coffee can step up in case of an injury? (Mike P)
A: Yes, the organization has more reason to be confident in Glen Coffee than any of the team’s other backup running backs since Gore took over as the main man. Maurice Hicks and DeShaun Foster are still out there looking for work in the NFL. As good as Coffee looked Saturday against the Raiders, let’s make one thing clear: He is not going to share the load with Gore.
Gore is the 49ers’ No. 1 back. Singletary said he believes Gore is one of the top-five running backs in the league. Coffee will enter a game for a series or two, and he’ll be expected to do a fine job. But he’s not going to take Gore’s job any time soon.