Grading the 49ers: Red zone offense

Before: Alex Smith, Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, Delanie Walker, Kyle Williams and Frank Gore.

Grade: F

Why: Vernon Davis is a monster red zone target, but he got double covered constantly last season. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman wanted to establish his red zone offense with Braylon Edwards at the beginning of last season – force feeding him fade passes in the corner of the end zone. Edwards couldn’t catch a single one, and then he got hurt, and then it seemed like Roman ran out of ideas. Delanie Walker and Kyle Williams are too short to be real red-zone threats, and Frank Gore is not a particularly powerful goal line running back.

Now: Subtract Walker, Williams and Gore. Add Moss, Manningham and Jacobs.

Grade: B

Why: Randy Moss can probably catch the end zone fade better right now than Braylon Edwards ever could. If Moss can stay healthy, his main benefit to the team should be in the red zone. If Roman can establish him as a TD threat early on, that will open up Davis and the Niners will be in business. If Moss gets hurt or quits on the team, the Niners red zone offense is back at square one. The addition of Jacobs should help a little bit – he scored 16 touchdowns the last two seasons – but he’s aging and slowing down. And although A.J. Jenkins may have value, for the red zone he’s a little short. It’s Moss who’s the key to the Niners red zone offense.

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