Maiocco: Stanford playbook gets facelift for 49ers


Maiocco: Stanford playbook gets facelift for 49ers

May 20, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE49ERS PAGE 49ERS VIDEOMatt MaioccoCSNBayArea.comSeveral 49ers offensive players entered the team's Santa Clara practice facility on April 29 to meet with coaches during the brief time the NFL lockout was lifted.Those players exited with the blueprint for the upcoming season.New 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh brought offensive coordinator Greg Roman with him from Stanford. But they could not bring the same playbook they authored for the college game.While similar to the offensive system installed at Stanford, the 49ers' playbook has many fundamental differences."It probably took two months to put together the nuts and bolts, but we're always working on it," Roman told CSN Bay Area on Thursday in a phone interview. "We just tweaked some of it this morning."
Roman said the way the team lines up in the huddle is identical. Each position has a designated spot in the oval shaped formation, as the quarterback relays the assignments for the next play.
Other than that, Roman says, "Nothing is exactly the same."Of course, there are many similarities. The language is still Bill Walsh's West Coast system, but the previous playbook had a dialect uniquely tailored for college football.The biggest changes to the 49ers' playbook takes into account the fundamental differences between professional and college football. The hashmarks are closer together in the NFL, which means the starting point for every play is confined to the center of the field.The width of NFL hashmarks is 18 feet, 6 inches. In college, the hashmarks are 40 feet wide. There can be a lot more unbalanced formations in college, Roman said, as well as major considerations on how to utilize the varying space toward the sideline on both side of the football.This difference in where the play can begin has a huge impact because of the spacing on the field. Also, there were necessary adjustments that had to be made in merely describing where the wide receivers line up."The splits are complete different," Roman said. "And how you denote it is different. Lining up 3 yards from the numbers is different in the NFL. In the NFL, the numbers are 12-to-14 yards from the sideline. In college, the numbers are closer to the sideline. The landmarks and the spacing is complete different."In turn, the windows in which a quarterback is instructed to make his throws are shifted accordingly."The entire spacing of the field, the offensive and defensive players, is different," Roman said. "With a slant in college, there might be more space between the next inside defender."Also, "zone read plays" are a big part of any college offense, even the pro-style system employed at Stanford. Those run plays out of the shotgun, spread formation is something NFL teams use sparingly -- often as part of the "Wildcat" without a true quarterback taking the snap.General manager Trent Baalke suggested recently that the 49ers might add some "quarterback-driven runs" to the offense in the future with the addition of Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who rushed for 4,112 yards and 59 touchdowns in his college career.Kaepernick revealed the day the 49ers chose him in the second round that he spoke several times with Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck prior to the draft. Kaepernick suggested he was interested in meeting with Luck to learn more about the offensive system he will be entrusted to master.
"He'll be learning the playbook, but obviously, he won't be doing that with Andrew," said Scott Smith, Kaepernick's agent, mindful in the differences in the playbooks.
RELATED: Niners not worried about Kaepernick's procedureBut Kaepernick could derive some benefit from face-to-face sessions with Luck. There is some carry over with the terminology and some of the plays, Roman suggested. And there are close similarities in how the 49ers' quarterback will bark out the cadence at the line of scrimmage.However, there are many aspects of the 49ers' playbook that would be new concepts to players who suited up under Harbaugh and Roman at Stanford.VIDEO: Baalke on Niners' draftee KaepernickPerhaps the biggest assistance Luck could lend to Kaepernick would be macro, rather than micro. Nobody knows better than Luck the process and expectations that await Kaepernick with the 49ers' new coaching staff.

Cowboys expose 49ers' biggest weakness in bashing: Talent


Cowboys expose 49ers' biggest weakness in bashing: Talent

If there is such a thing as being “due” in sports (and there actually isn’t, so you can probably stop reading now), the San Francisco 49ers had Sunday coming to them.
After all, the anomaly of being the “best winless team in football” based on margin of defeat lasts only so long until the “winless” part trumps the “best” part, because even the Los Angeles Chargers – the previous “best bad team in football” – aren’t the Chargers all the time.
So it was that the Dallas Cowboys exposed every weakness the 49ers have with the simplest thing there is.
The Cowboys did everything they wanted, but only whenever they wanted it, in a 40-10 dope-slapping that could actually have been worse than it was. The 49er offense was properly stymied (again), gaining only 290 yards (4.5 yards per play) and the defense was thoroughly Elliotted (as in Ezekiel-ed, who averaged 8.1 yards in his 27 touches). San Francisco’s warts were rubbed until they glowed, and if not for the fact that head coach Kyle Shanahan already knew where they were, he’d have been shocked to see how visible they were.
And therein lies the takeaway from another day at Not-So-Great-America. It turns out that the 49ers weren’t very good at much of anything before Sunday except just how far away they are from what Shanahan and general manager John Lynch believe is their destiny. C.J.  Beathard remained the rookie quarterback he is, and Carlos Hyde's hard-won 68 rushing yards led to no scores. Indeed, San Francisco's only touchdown came on a four-yard improv sprint from Beathard, who is by no means a running quarterback except in abject flight.

Next week in Philadelphia figures to be no less grisly, if you’re waiting for that magic moment when “0” becomes “1.” That is, of course, unless Washington exposes the Eagles as less than what they seem, which is very often the case in the new parity-gripped NFL.

But there are subsequent get-well games at home against Arizona and then at New York against the Giants the week after, so whatever dreams you might have about them running the table backwards and getting the first overall pick in the draft are still light years from realization.
This is, however, another healthy reminder that the job to be done is at least two more years in the undoing before the doing can actually begin. Not that the players or coaches needed another lesson, mind you – they know.
But maybe you needed it, just to keep your delusions in check. Maybe the people who were “due” were all of you.
But that’s unfair, too. You didn’t undo this franchise. All you did was believe, and there’s nothing wrong with that – as long you know there will be more days like this before your team starts handing out the 40-10’s.
In the meantime, there is beer.

Three things you need to know from 49ers' 40-10 loss vs Cowboys


Three things you need to know from 49ers' 40-10 loss vs Cowboys

SANTA CLARA -- Three things you need to know about the 49ers’ 40-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 7 on Sunday:

1. A major step backward
So much for the 49ers’ somewhat-impressive streak of close losses.

There was nothing encouraging about what transpired in the 49ers' worst loss at Levi’s Stadium. It was also the franchise's worst home loss since Mike Singletary's team absorbed a 45-10 thumping against the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 11, 2009.

Was there anything positive to take from this game?

“No, not right now,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “It was disappointing. I think all three phases, players and coaches, we’ve got to play better than that, a lot better to give ourselves a chance to win.”

The competitive nature of the 49ers’ past five games was one thing. But with a big home loss on such an emotional day, it is fair to say that the honeymoon is over for Shanahan and general manager John Lynch. The 49ers looked like a team devoid of any leadership, and brings more scrutiny onto the organization’s decision last week to release linebacker NaVorro Bowman.

Now, the 49ers face a crossroads. With another cross-country trip ahead, the 49ers have to regroup in a hurry in order to avoid another embarrassing blowout against the Philadelphia Eagles.

2. Beathard’s first start
Rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard certainly was not the reason the 49ers got blown out. In his first NFL start, he showed a lot of toughness, which was to be expected. He was sacked five times. But most of those sacks could have been avoided. He has to get rid of the ball quicker, especially on three-step drops.

Beathard also showed some promise, too. He let the ball fly deep for Marquise Goodwin, who caught four passes for 80 yards. Beathard completed 22 of 38 passes for 235 yards.

Beathard accounted for the 49ers’ only touchdown with a 4-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. There seems to be little doubt it was in the best interest of the organization to begin evaluating what it has for the future with the permanent switch from Brian Hoyer to Beathard.

3. Dwight Clark’s Day
The 49ers, of course, did nothing to evoke any memories of the great teams on which Dwight Clark played. Well, they did look a lot like Clark’s first team with the 49ers.

The 49ers of 1979 lost their first seven games of the season. This year’s team matched that start for the worst beginning to a season in franchise history.

More than 35 of Clark’s teammates off the 1981 Super Bowl team were in attendance to honor a pay tribute to Clark, who is battling ALS. Now in a wheelchair and considerably lighter, Clark delivered some poignant remarks at halftime.

Clark, 60, told his old teammate, Keena Turner, who works as vice president of football affairs, that all he wanted was to see some of his old teammates.

“And the 49ers heard that and flew all these players in, so I could see them one more time,” Clark said.