Day 4: Raye sends out playbook’s preface to Hill and Smith

Prior to coming to the NFL scouting combine here in Indianapolis, new 49ers offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye sent faxes to Shaun Hill and Alex Smith. (Hmmm, sounds to me as if Smith just might be back on the team next season.)

Both quarterbacks received a copy of the "fundamental" section of the new playbook, Raye said. It includes information about the huddle, including how the play is called. It also contains details about the cadence system, the shifts, motions and formation.


Raye said he has spoken with Smith in person and on the telephone. He has spoken to Hill only on the phone.


"And we'll be in communication with them, (quarterbacks coach) Mike (Johnson) and myself, as they hit some stumbling blocks or have questions about the fundamentals section," Raye said.


The quarterbacks are not scheduled to meet for actual classroom work until March 16. The offense will be together for a week, concluding with a three-day minicamp.


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Raye said he has looked at every pass Smith threw in 2006. He also watched the first three games of 2008 (just to get a feel for some of the early season personnel when J.T. O'Sullivan was at quarterback). Then, he watched the final six games with Hill at quarterback.


"You never really know until you get the guy in the classroom and see if he retains (information) and puts it on the field," Raye said. "But there wasn't anything that made me say, 'Oh, my God, why did I do this?'"


Why did you do this? Like take the job?


"Yeah," Raye said laughing. "I wasn't alarmed by anything I saw."


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Raye said he liked what he saw from the offensive line, saying he liked the way things looked when Chilo Rachal became the starter late in the season. I asked Raye about the team's blocking scheme in the run game.


"We use all phases of football," Raye said. "Eventually, it becomes man (blocking). But we have an inside-zone scheme and an outside-zone scheme, and a pull-and-kick, either weak or strong."


I asked if Frank Gore's running style fits what he wants to do with the run game.


"He has all the ingredients, I think," Raye said. "He is one of the top-echelon backs in the league, and I've had some good guys. I've been blessed with some good guys like Marcus Allen, Curtis Martin, Thomas Jones and (Eric Dickerson). He if he plays the way he's capable of playing, he can be that kind of productive guy."


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Raye also mentioned tight ends Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker. I asked if it's a challenge to find a balance with Davis, as far as using him as a receiver and a blocker.


"I think it's a plus that he can block a defensive end and pass protect because in the course of a game there will be situations where we'll need him to do both, so that's a bonus," Raye said. "My initial thought going in, just like with (Tony) Gonzalez at Kansas City, is he is a threat at that position - a nightmare for some teams. We'll exploit that to its maximum ability. I would expect he will be a major part of what we do, just based on what I've seen.


"Now, I have to see him practice and play and see how he retains and his ability to bend his knees and drop his weight. He has looks like he has the ingredients to be a focal point in what we do."


And what about Walker?


"He's very athletic guy who can come in and play the second tight end position," Raye said. "Those two guys can flip-flop and be inside on the line or outside on the line. I like what I've seen from them."


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I'm at the airport at this moment, ready to head back home. I think I've seen just about every QBs and WRs coach in the NFL here in the past hour. They are all leaving for some place much warmer. Not sure the temperature rose about 20 degrees at any time during the four days I was here.


Cherie, who works the front desk at the Residence Inn, thought I was completely nuts for heading out (wearing shorts) on 3-mile runs on the canal path loop around 7 p.m. the past two nights. But it was about the only times - other than my near-fatal walk to the stadium on Thursday - that I made it outside during this trip.


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Happy birthday to Lucy!


Sorry, I wasn't there today on your fourth birthday. Thank you for allowing us to postpone your party for a week . . .  and for being too young to know how to properly hold a grudge.


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