The 49ers are interested in free agent Pro Bowl guard Evan Mathis, according to John Clatyon of ESPN.
Mathis played the past two seasons under Philadelphia Eagles’ head coach Chip Kelly, whose running game features zone blocking. Mathis was one of the best zone blockers in the NFL.
The past few seasons under head coach Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers primarily used gap blocking – lots of power runs and counter runs. So far this offseason during OTAs and minicamp, the Niners mostly have been practicing zone-blocking plays.
I asked quarterbacks coach Steve Logan about this change last Thursday. Here’s what Logan said.
LOGAN: “Jimmy Tomsula hired (offensive line coach) Chris (Foerster) for a reason. They’ve got a background (together). Chris around the league is recognized as one of the best there is, and he’s capable of blending those two styles, and that can be hard to do. But he has shown the ability to blend the gap schemes and the zone schemes.
“When you break down the run game, you’ve got gap schemes and zone schemes – that’s it. The ability to blend those, that’s where you’re going to find out how good you are. Some teams are really, really dogmatic about running the zone scheme. For instance, Houston over the years. For years and years, Houston was zone zone zone. They didn’t even have a gap scheme in their system.
“You go back to the New York Giants several years ago, or the Green Bay Packers 10 years ago – they were a gap scheme, and that’s what they did. In this day and age, most teams are trying to blend them. We’ll see which end of the scale we end up on.”
GC: “What do you like about the zone scheme?”
LOGAN: “What the zone scheme does up front for you is it allows you to create double teams. That’s the main thing you get. You get a double team – several. Any time you get a double team, there’s a good chance you’ll get some movement.
“The zone run is proven to be an NFL staple over the years, and it still is. Look at Chip Kelly. He’s running a zone scheme out of the shotgun, and they’re very productive. It’s just a good, solid way to run the football.”