Jimmy Raye is the 49ers’ seventh offensive coordinator in seven years. Mike Martz, Jim Hostler, Norv Turner, Mike McCarthy, Ted Tollner and Greg Knapp held the position from 2003 to 2008.
Knapp was clearly the most successful of those coordinators. (Of course, he also had the best talent with which to work). The 49ers ranked fourth, eighth and fifth in his three seasons as coordinator.
The 49ers’ offense has been bad ever since.
In 2004, under Tollner, the 49ers ranked 26th, and they were shut out in a game for the first time since 1977.
McCarthy fared even worse. The club ranked last in the NFL in total offense. McCarthy parlayed the forgettable season into a head-coaching job with the Packers. As it turns out, the Packers made a good hire.
Turner did a fine job in 2006, as the 49ers made the transition to the digit system. The 49ers ranked 26th in total offense. But it’s what the 49ers’ offense did with Turner in charge that Singletary considers the model for this year’s team. The 49ers ranked sixth in the league in rushing, averaging 135.8 yards per game.
Hostler was promoted from QBs coach after Turner’s late departure to coach the San Diego Chargers. When things started going downhill, Hostler was unable to provide the answers for his unit. The 49ers ranked 32nd in the league.
Mike Nolan fired Hostler and replaced him with Mike Martz, in hopes of making a quick turnaround on offense. Martz improved the offense to No. 23 in the league. But the high-risk, high-reward offense also yielded 35 turnovers and 55 sacks.
And, now, Raye enters the picture.
Question: You have had a chance to observe different OC’s install their offenses in the offseason. Please compare and contrast what you’ve observed about Raye’s work vis a vis the others? (Drew)
Answer: The transition through this stage of the offseason has probably gone more smoothly than with any of the other coordinators . . . with the possible exception of Hostler.
Hostler had a background in the West Coast and digit systems (we’ll quiz you later on what routes match which numbers). So Hostler’s idea was to mesh the two philosophies. It sounded like a heck of an idea. And the offseason was very smooth because he tried to weave some of McCarthy’s teachings of 2005 into what the team had learned under Turner in 2006.
Raye has already installed all of his offense. Because he uses the same digit terminology that Turner, Hostler and Martz used, it has not been difficult for the players to pick up. It showed toward the end of OTAs when Shaun Hill and Alex Smith looked better on the practice field than I have ever seen them.
Contrast that to last year.
Although the terminology was the same, Martz’s system is generally regarded as the most complex in the NFL. In the offseason camps and well into training camp, the 49ers’ offense looked absolutely dreadful. The only quarterback who entered camp feeling somewhat at ease with the system was J.T. O’Sullivan. That is why the offense ran so much better with him during training camp when he entered – and won — the quarterback competition.
Raye certainly has a meat-and-potatoes approach. He’s a straight-forward coach with a straight-forward approach. His offense will likely take on his personality. So far, the players seem to like his approach.
The success of the offense will rely on how well his line protects, his quarterback performs and how well he performs as a play-caller.
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Match the number with the route in the digit system that Norv Turner introduced to the 49ers as coordinator in 2006. Place the routes in the correct order, 1 through 9:
I’ll send a signed copy of one of my books to the first person to answer correctly in the comment section below.
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