49ers need to let this man inflict some pain

This is my Saturday column.

I bet you dimes to donuts the 49ers open Sunday’s game against the Saints with a running play.

I don’t know this for a fact. I don’t sit in the 49ers’ offensive meetings. But I do know that the past two games — both losses — Greg Roman called 79 passes and 39 runs, a 2-to-1 ratio of passes to runs and, as a result, the 49ers’ offensive line gave up 14 sacks. Greg Roman is aware of this. Everyone at 4949 Centennial Blvd. is aware of this.

If Roman calls a run on the very first play, the 49ers’ offensive line can get in the first punch, can hit the Saints’ defensive line in the mouth. That’s how the 49ers should start this game. Don’t let the defensive players take the initiative. Hit them hard. The first impression is a lasting impression.

Passing on the first play allows the defense to take the initiative. Pass protection is passive by nature — three-hundred-pound offensive linemen tap dancing backwards away from the line of scrimmage, allowing smaller, quicker, faster, defensive players to penetrate the backfield and generate speed and then punch them. The defensive players always have the advantage when it comes to sheer aggression. Take it away from them.

The 300-pound offensive linemen have the advantage in the run game. It’s the nature of football. Anthony Davis is about 330 pounds. Let him inflict pain on the Saints’ defensive end. Let pain be the Saints’ first impression. And second impression. And final impression.

If Roman uses five wide receivers on the first play or on lots of plays, he’s asking for trouble, the same trouble he asked for and got last week from the Rams. If Roman uses five wideouts, the defensive end doesn’t have to worry about a tight end smacking him in his earhole. The defensive end can rush unimpeded. Five-wide-receiver spread formations give the defensive end nothing to worry about. Roman must make the defensive end worry.

Roman has to make the Saints’ defensive linemen helmet-readers.

What are helmet-readers?

Helmet-readers react to a run-first offense. They expect the offense to run and they read the helmets to find out where the run blocking is going. They are not aggressive. They are not penetrators. They are 100 percent reactive. They absorb the first punch. They keep their feet parallel to the line of scrimmage, and that gives them less forward momentum. Once the defensive linemen are helmet-readers, Colin Kaepernick will have all the time he needs in the pocket.

The 49ers failed to make the Rams’ defensive linemen helmet-readers last week. The Rams often were the exact opposite of helmet-readers. They lined up in “jet stances,” one leg back behind the other like sprinters anticipating the gun before a race. Then they “jetted” up field once the ball was snapped. They weren’t reading helmets. They were concerned only with crushing Colin Kaepernick. And they did just that.

Greg Roman didn’t make them pay. He invited the jet stances. Roman called 17 passes and just three runs on second down against the Rams. On second down, the Rams sacked Kaepernick four times and forced him to fumble once. If Roman called runs instead of passes, those sacks wouldn’t have happened. You can’t get sacked on a run play.

Greg, it’s OK to call runs on second down. Really, it is. Frank Gore is averaging 4.7 yards per carry on second down this season. That’s very good, Greg. Give him the ball on second down. Give him the ball on first down, too. Just give him the ball.

What are you saving him for? The playoffs?

This just in. If you lose to the Saints, you probably won’t make the playoffs.

I understand Gore is 31 years old and you want to limit how many hits he takes. It’s just that hits are unavoidable. He takes hits when he blocks blitzers in pass protection and he takes hits when he runs into the line on play-action passes. He has to take hits, so let him take them while he runs between the tackles and sets up third-and-short for your offense. Third-and-2 is better than third-and-7. Kaepernick’s passer rating on third-and-2 or shorter is 148.

And remember this: When a tough running back runs, sure he gets hit, but he also gives hits, makes tacklers suffer, inflicts pain. Frank Gore is the greatest pain inflictor in 49ers history. Let Gore be Gore.

A football weighs only 11.3 ounces. It’s not like Gore has to carry a ton of bricks. Give him the ball, Greg. The season depends on it. So does your job.

Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at grantcohn@gmail.com.

This article has 82 Comments

  1. Sounds great, but last week Frank Gore was sluggish for the third game in a row. Your words not mine.

    1. Grants a flip flopper. He’ll tell us the Qb deserved an F then he will write an article about the poor performance of the offensive line. Then he’ll write an article about the play calling costing us the game.
      I’m looking for four things tomorrow morning.
      A balanced attack and equal distribution of carries Gore/ Hyde.

      Good pass protection.

      CK finding the hot read on blitzes.

      Pass rush.

      1. C4C,
        I’ve never blamed Roman for losses, but I have intimated that he has had a hand in them. I know the old adage that coaches make calls and players must execute. Last week CK did not execute on the final series, period.

        My rant (well pseudo rant) was why run a QB sneak over your rookie (first game) Center that had been getting owned by Aaron Donald the game?
        Why try to be cute and fool the defense using Martin who had already muffed a couple of snaps in such a critical moment?

        Marcus Martin may one day be stud on our O-line but after watching him muff a couple of snaps earlier it would have made sense NOT to call on him for that play.
        No, I’m not blaming Martin for the loss. It’s on that particular play where Roman had his fingerprint on it.

        1. Colin bobbled the exchange if I’m not mistaken on that last sneak, that could have effected his route. Maybe he was supposed to slide behind the guard but after bobbling it had to just leap forward because the play was already going?

          1. C4C,
            Correct, CK bobbled the snap. My point (for the reasons above) was why go to that play in that situation. Based on Aaron Donald’ dominance throughout the game it was not a good call.

            1. For me my thoughts go;

              a) Jacks point
              b) I agreed with the call because I felt like running either of the RB’s on the play would have been too obvious. I understand your point about the lack of success up to that point but I think if there wasn’t a bobble and especially wasn’t a fumble then like Jacks point none of these conversations would be happening. The play was OK the execution was dreadful.

          1. Hammer,
            CK definitely could have lead MC better on that pass. Actually an argument could be made that it was still a TD, but it is what it is, not crying over spilled milk.
            As I mentioned to C4C, I was not thrilled on the last call simply because of the players and situation involved.

  2. “…I bet you dimes to donuts…”

    Really, Grant ..?

    Last I heard it was dollars to donuts …

    (must be inflation)

  3. Let gore play and stop crying and just play niner ball.We will win if they play our brand of ball which is pound them out.

  4. CK is the best QB in football. It’s Roman ‘ s fault that they keep losing. And the horrible offense line too. At this point I don’t even care if the Niners win anymore I just want to see Colin keep bombing it down field and throwing for 400 yards each game so the world can see he is the best QB in football. Maybe they should lose out so we can draft a decent receiver with the first pick.

    1. Lame says “At this point I don’t even care if the Niners win anymore”

      What a true fan you are Eric Estrada! You have now shown your true colors!

        1. You’ve just told all of us that you don’t care if the 49ers win again. Your the biggest douche bag troll ever!

          1. Prime your the troll just like fan and clod. I don’t care what you think or your friend clod the fraud. All clod does is constantly use his smarts to make me look dumb even though he knows nothing about sports. I’m sick of it

    2. “At this point I don’t even care if the Niners win anymore I just want to see Colin keep bombing it down field and throwing for 400 yards each game so the world can see he is the best QB in football. Maybe they should lose out so we can draft a decent receiver with the first pick”

      There it is ladies and gentlemen! You have the audacity to call me a troll? All you care about is Colin, Colin, Colin. You a rather the team LOSE so he can get his stats! You hate the O-Line, the Defense, Vernon Davis, anyone who makes Colin look bad. Well guess what Colin is making Colin look bad when he fumbles the ball on the goal line, misses an easy throw to Crabs for the winning TD. We’ve been saying this the whole year not to Hate on Kaep but to see if he can overcome his limitation and get better.

      Grant banned you once already for being obnoxious. It’s too bad he needs you to be the blog idiot.

      1. Fan I knew all along Bayclown was a fantasy football guy and not a football fan. He finally openly admitted it. He called us out for being trolls and we had an agenda? Looks like he is every part of the idiot he tried to hide.

            1. MD knows that Clod Balls is a clown just like you and fan Prime. You are a joke and nobody cares what you say.

    3. lol bay. That was a pretty good imitation of some nonsense that Mora dude would come up with. Well done!

  5. The issue is not passing on second down or any down. It is CK reading the D and anticipating the open player. He is trying too hard to make explosive plays. We just need him to spread the ball around and move the chains.
    He needs to be a QB. Game Manger. Maybe he will learn. Now all D’s are sending the house, as they know he will panic. The run game has been abysmal for a season now. If we lose this game, it is time to shuffle the deck.
    I am a frustrated with the lack of a rhythm

    By the offense. They need speed it.

    1. I beg to differ. If they wanted a game manager, they should have kept Alex; who BTW lost to Kap in their only meeting. I thing that you have identified the problem though; too much coaching to be a pocket QB as opposed to the play maker. Kap out gunned Brady and holds play-off and Superbowl records due to his play-making ability.

  6. whatever percentages of this ‘n that we use,
    it better result in a win, huh?
    The chances of us going on from here to sweep
    the table (and finish 11-5) are very, very slim.
    So a win tomorrow is c-r-u-c-i-a-l.
    Somebody advise Coach Harbaw – this is the season.

  7. you do realize that you’re advocating running against a 8+ man fronts that are already keying on the run. there’s a reason why Roman tried to pass against the Ram’s defense. they had what, 6 sacks coming into the game? seemed like a good plan initially. the O-line just wasn’t up to task…so it’s kind of hard to advocate running or passing when the O-line couldn’t do either.

    actually you’re partially right IMO. you do need to keep the defense guessing. but I would advocate running from more 3WR groups and spread formations as well as passing out of some of the heavy groups and formations. at this point, I’m not sure how much Vernon is giving you. I’d use Miller more and move him around as more of an H and Y receiver/blocker…lead and inline. Out of the 3WR groups start using Boldin on some of those short traps and crack back blocks.

    1. That’s it affp. If the team wants to avoid running at 8 and 9 man fronts, it needs to spread the field a bit. If they don’t want the pass rush teeing off all day they need to mix in both run and pass with the field spread a bit.

      1. Why do they have to show their hand and spread the field with 4 or 5 WR sets? The smart thing to do is play action all day!

        1. No need to go 4 or 5 WRs to spread the field. 3 WR sets will work fine, so long as they demonstrate to the opponent they need to respect both run and pass out of the formation.

          In saying that, when they do go 4 or even 5 WRs, they still should strive to have some threat of a run, unless it is an obvious passing down.

          1. In fact ditch thst whole spread crap altogether. The 49ers need to get back to making it a game of will. Two back, the Swiss Army knife Miller on the field more than anyone. Prostyle set and play action or run all day. Don’t be something you are not with this passing offense. You are built to out tough people and if you can’t, take your lumps amd rebuild next year!
            The defense is going to win the game, offense just move the chains, play field position and kick FG’s if necessary. Don’t be what loser fans like Bayareafantic want with 400 yards passing. That’s not 49er football. That’s fantasy football!

            1. I agree they should still primarily play out of the more traditional 2 WR sets. And play action should be a staple. But you have to respect if the defense is stacking the box then continually trying to run it down their throat won’t get you very far.

              One way to open up the running game is to spread the field a bit. So nothing wrong with mixing in multiple WR sets, so long as they don’t make it obvious they will pass out of that formation. Keep it balanced, no matter the formation.

            1. Prime Slime, a true fan roots for his QB to be successful. If you were a real fan you would be on board with CK and realize he is the past present and future of this team. Colin is here to stay and it’s about time you accept that. And it’s only a matter of time before he proves himself that he is the best QB in the NFL.

              It’s nice to have a REAL qb for a change not like we had with careful checkdown Smitty. I’ll admit I hoped we would go 0-16 with AS11 just so you Smithers would shut your pie holes and we would get a change at QB. Well guess what we finally got it and that change is for the better. CK7 is the best QB of our generation so deal with it.

  8. Niners will win this game ck will throw for 250 3 tds gore 1 rushing 103 on 20 touches score 31-23 niners

  9. “Frank Gore is the greatest pain inflictor in 49ers history.”

    Ickey Woods might beg to differ with that opinion.

  10. It only becomes a 8 man front of there no passing at all we can throw the ball and will do that tomorrow.That will losing up the ground game for us a little and that’s all we need.We need the def to get to Bree’s a little more than they have this year vs the other qbs early in the season.

  11. Clearly I’m a bit thick because I’m trying to figure out what the article has to do with Anthony Davis. He is the one referred to in the title”49ers need to let this man inflict some pain” correct? I say so because I find this sentence, buried in the middle of the 4th paragraph(if you don’t count the thesis statement) “Anthony Davis is about 330 pounds. Let him inflict pain on the Saints’ defensive end.” Is this what the title refers to? The thesis statement tells the readers that the writer is about to talk about why he believes the team will start the game with a running play but does that mean they need to start the play with a run behind the right tackle? If I was to try and making meaning of the topic and the title I would jump to this conclusion.

    I really lose focus at this point though because the piece seems to change directions and starts talking about wide receivers sets and then cascades into a lesson on reading the offensive lines helmets and finishes talking about how old and beat up Frank Gore is.

    You’re a far better writer then me Grant but your title creation skills are leaving me scratching my head. Maybe I need to stand up when I read so things can’t go over my head as easily.

  12. It doesn’t have to be Gore, it can also be Carlos Hyde.. who runs alot like Frank Gore, except he doesn’t have his vision yet. Gore and Hyde is a pretty nasty combination for any defense, but once again.. I agree with every single word Grant wrote.. scary.

    Even if the run goes for 2 yards, having to tackle and fight off a charging 300 pound man takes energy, takes some of that pass rush out of them. As Grant said, if the Niners can stay committed to balance.. by running the ball, the offensive line will get rolling, the defense will stay reacting and Kap will have plenty of time in the pocket.

    Kap might be the star of the offense, but the engine is the running game. The running game is what establishes the rhythm of this offense. You go away from that, and you can see the results. In the prior years, seems like when the Niners go back to their dedication to the run, it puts the offense back on track.. they might wanna try that!

  13. If the Niners face 8-9 in the box, that’s when you take out the playaction passing.. get those 8 or 9 guys to come up, and then find the best matchup outside because you know it’s single coverage! With the Niners’ receiving corp, they’re going to win most matchups outside.. they should welcome that. Along with runs, didn’t see a whole lot of playaction either.. just alot of drop back, old school passing. You got the most lethal dual threat QB in the league, and you’re trying to turn him into a statue.. awesome.

  14. The 49ers will draft a QB in one of the first 5 rounds next spring. I’m not saying that to tote my swami like prediction abilities, clearly *cough* Murphy*cough* but more to state the obvious and to start a conversation.

    Which round will it happen? Do they draft someone to groom or someone to replace Kaepernick whenever he proves ready to play?

    1. Which QB are they drafting? No QB’s in college right now, that will be available when we draft, will take Kaep’s spot. While we are “grooming” the next QB, Kaep will be improving.

    2. I hope the 49ers lose out the rest of the season so they can draft a real WR at #1. They won’t draft a QB you clown! CK is here to stay for the next 10+ years so you haters need to deal with it.

      1. Bay,

        Lol. You’re the clown. Do you actually pay attention to what people post? I’m all in for Kaep. Many other have requested we draft a QB. I’m trying to see who is it that they would draft. To me drafting another QB is a waste of a pick.

  15. Depending on who take over for Harbaugh, Kaep can be on a very short leash. He’s the ultimate head scratcher, highest of highs, lowest of lows. How can you predict what he is going to do in a game? We know that teams will blitz, stay in lanes and force him left.
    If he doesn’t hit that first read, then we are in trouble.

  16. Kaepernick needs an offseason woth Montana, Young, and the almighty Lord Jesus Christ to improve his game!

    1. Prime a true fan would wish for CK to succeed. We all know where your allegiance lies! You are a fraud just like Clod. Get out of here and let the real fans talk.

    1. Jack dont get me wrong, mariota is a prototype QB but he is nowhere near as electrifying as keapernick. I live in southern oregon and im about the same distance from Eugene as I am from Reno, and ive seen both QB’s play. If kap can hone up his passing accuracy a bit, he’s got the potential to be one of the greatest players to ever walk out on the field

  17. Colin is better than Brees and will prove it this game as long as Roman lets him. If the offensive line decides they feel like playing well and as long as Crabs and VD decide their hands want to show up. And as long as Gore gets holes to run through so all the pressure isn’t on the passing game. If all that happens CK will prove that he is the best QB in football and superior to Brees.

    Stevie Johnson is not a good receiver and neither is Lloyd at this point. Boldin is an old man too. Seriously Baalke can you get CK some good receivers to throw to so he can prove he’s the best QB in the NFL. Better than Manning yeah I said it. I don’t even care anymore how the 49ers do as long as Colin proves he’s the real deal which he will.

  18. Brees got beat out by Rivers in San Diego, how good can he be? OVERRATED! Just like Alice Smith got beat out by Tim Rattay AND J.T. O’Sullivan in San Fran! What a hack. Kaepernick is the best QB for the 49ers since Joe Montana.

  19. The BEST Article I’ve EVER seen U write Grant!!!!! Wow I couldn’t have written it ANY better!!!!!!

  20. Run? Pass? 5/4/3/2 receiver sets. Everything is irrelevant if the offensive line can/will not do even an average job. Not only have they been getting beat physically but they have also made mental errors galore. This except for Martin is the same line they have had for years. They sucked even before Martin was put in as a starter so it’s not on him.

    Too many fans live in the past in respect to the 49er’s. A lot of players are not having their best years due to various issues including injuries. I believe to many people do not want to face the reality that this team has a lot of issues and problems in a lot of area’s, so they look for a single issue/player that they hope is the problem. They want to believe that all they have to do is to replace/fix that player/issue and the team will surely win it all. Delusional but still typical fan thinking.

    Even with all the issues, the fact remains that not one offensive lineman has played consistently or even to the level of average in respect to what should be expected from them. Until this team gets to the point where they can even expect an average game and a modicum of consistently out of them all the other issues are irrelevant. Until the line is solid the critique of other players RB’s/QB’s are based purely on their abilities to compensate for the inadequacies of the offensive line.

    1. Something that should be of concern is why the all of a sudden tailspin of the the offensive line? It can not at this late date be ascribed to hold outs or injuries alone. Is it because the line was assumed to be a position of strength so the coaches allowed complacency to set in.

      In respect to the results this year and the decline of the team in a lot of area’s, it sort of makes me wonder about Harbaugh’s consistent praising of the job that every player is doing. Is it just meaningless generic publicity talk that Jim uses to play close to the vest OR does he really BELIEVE what he is saying. An extension of his ” No body has it better” slogan. If you can not ( or refuse to see ) existing short comings and issues that need to be worked on than they will fester and get worse. Not recognizing the WR deficiency last season was one example of that.

      Perhaps Harbaugh has been too easy during training camps. Not pushing the vets hard enough seems to have created and air of complacency in those that are not self motivated.

  21. the pain of the game will be surpassed
    by the pain associated with the planeride
    back to S.F. with Jim Harbaw. Man in pain.

    The pain of unfulfilled dreams… no ring…yet.

  22. Grant. As you can see I’ve been hacked. Someone is using my name and avatar. Only one post on this thread is mine….

  23. We’re 4-5 after today and if the Cards and Chickens win we’re pretty much done as far as the playoffs go.

    Jed fired Singletary after the team was no longer in the hunt for the playoffs, wonder if any similar type moves are planned for this year.

  24. Three games I saw passes on1st and goal ravenn superbowl seahawks championship and last week rams why WHY NOT GORE UP THE SMASHMOUTH GUT MANO A MANO WERE A RUNNING TEAM DUH

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