Roman gets high marks for 49ers' record-setting offensive display


Roman gets high marks for 49ers' record-setting offensive display


SAN FRANCISCO -- Right tackle Anthony Davis, who was singled up on the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL most of Sunday, looked to his right and saw an important figure walking through the 49ers' victorious locker room."It's that guy," Davis said, gesturing toward 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman. "He was dialing them up."The 49ers, who've made a habit of putting together strong defensive showings, found the connection Sunday for a record-setting performance against the Buffalo Bills on offense.An organization steeped in offensive history, rolled up 621 total yards in a 45-3 victory over the Bills at Candlestick Park. It set the franchise record for most yards in a game. The 49ers began play in 1946 and joined the NFL in 1950."We're talking about legends who played here," tight end Vernon Davis said, "Joe Montana, Steve Young, Jerry Rice. To be able to perform at this level and do it better than what they did, that's a huge honor, a huge honor."
Moreover, the 49ers became the first team in NFL history to roll up 300 rushing yards (311) and 300 passing yards (310) in the same game.The 49ers defeated the New York Jets 34-0 a week earlier. After losing to the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 23, the 49ers have outscored the opposition 79-3.That could serve as momentum heading into Sunday's showdown at Candlestick against the New York Giants, who defeated the 49ers in overtime to win the NFC championship game and go onto a Super Bowl title."This is what can happen when everyone's executing on the same page," 49ers left tackle Joe Staley said. "Everybody was just very crisp."Quarterback Alex Smith completed 18 of 24 passes for 303 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. His quarterback rating was a career-high and near-perfect 156.2 (perfection is 158.3).Michael Crabtree had six catches for 113 yards and a touchdown, and Vernon Davis added five catches for 106 yards. Kyle Williams caught a 46-yard touchdown pass, and Mario Manningham added a 10-yard scoring grab from Smith.Moreover, running back Frank Gore carried 14 times for 106 yards and a touchdown."We're the same team," Crabtree said. "It's just putting it together. . . We've got athletes. We've got playmakers. We just have to use them. We've got to create that identity."The identity of the 49ers has been a team that is driven by the defense. The offense has not been prolific for a long time. But the offense took a step back to a time in which there were stars at each of the skill positions on offense.The 49ers broke the record of 598 total yards, which was set -- coincidentally -- against the Bills in 1992 during an epic Steve Young vs. Jim Kelly shootout in which neither team punted. The Bills won that day, 34-31, sending the 49ers to one of their two losses on the season."Very cool . . . a lot of offenses and great offenses," Smith said. "When you think of the 49ers, you think of great offenses, so this is quite an honor. It's great to be with those guys."Smith sustained a sprain to the middle finger on his throwing hand with about 10 minutes remaining in the game. X-rays were negative. Everything else was quite positive for the team on Sunday.For the first time in his career, Smith threw for 300 yards in a 49ers victory. He also rushed for a career-high 49 yards.The 49ers' offensive line had another strong showing going up against a strong Buffalo defensive front. Anthony Davis, showing another sign of his dramatic improvement, held defensive end Mario Williams to two tackles and two quarterback hurries. Williams is in his first season with the Bills after signing a six-year, 100 million contract with 50 million guaranteed.The 49ers pride themselves on a varied offensive approach. And never was that as obvious on Sunday. Smith hit some deep passes, and the running game showed a few new wrinkles with the insertion of Colin Kaepernick lining up wide and running plays as a decoy. Kaepernick also took several snaps at quarterback, adding 39 rushing yards including a 16-yard scoring run with 10 minutes remaining."He's got playmaking ability," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "In a game where the playmakers really shone brightly, there were some shining stars out there today."The offensive players believe one of the brightest stars is situated in the coaching booth during the game. That's the location from which Roman calls plays and directs the symphony."That's gold," Gore said. "I think everything started going great for us because our passing game was on early. Coach G-Ro (Roman) did a great job of putting us in great situations. The O-line did a hell of a job. I've got to give all the credit to them. I just ran the ball. They did everything."We had them off-balance. You've got to give it to the coordinator -- give it to Coach G-Ro."Smith said he felt connected with every play call that came through."When the play call comes in, I know exactly what he's thinking, what we're trying to do, and what we're trying to accomplish," Smith said. "I think the whole offense is constantly putting us in good situations, him especially. Really, thinking through things all week and putting us in good situations. I don't think there's any play that comes that we don't feel has the potential to be a great play."In a rare moment, the 49ers produced an assistant coach to take the podium after the game. Roman stood in front of reporters with his right eye colored a dark red. He said it's a result of sleepless nights and thinking too much."I believe it," right guard Alex Boone said. "He's an evil genius, and I love it."Last week, Smith was removed for a handful of snaps with Kaepernick inserted to take snaps at quarterback. On Sunday, Kaepernick and Smith were both on the field for several plays."I think it's a great thing," Smith said. "I mean, it's another thing that defenses are going to have to prepare for. You only have so many reps during the week to get ready, so the more they have to think about, the better."Roman, who served on the Carolina Panthers coaching staff in the late-1990s under George Seifert, knows all about the history of the 49ers. Last summer during the lockout, he made a habit of watching hours upon hours of Bill Walsh installation videos.Now, he can lay claim to the honor of being the offensive coordinator who called the record-setting game."I think it's just a credit to the players and I think it's a credit to what we can accomplish as we move forward," Roman said. "I'm not a big statistical guy -- don't get caught up in it. But, at the same time, just in the normal course of events being able to put up that kind of production, obviously, we're doing something right."

Mailbag: Are 49ers trying to win or develop players?


Mailbag: Are 49ers trying to win or develop players?

After five consecutive close losses and some reason for optimism, it all came crashing down for the 49ers on Sunday.

Rookie Trent Taylor fumbled a punt just one minute into the game. Ninety seconds later, the Dallas Cowboys scored.

And it was over.

The Cowboys steamrolled the 49ers, 40-10, providing a slap across the face to anyone who believed this rebuild of the franchise was trending consistently upward without any complications.

The team appeared to be moving along harmoniously. But on Sunday, there was an incident in which Jaquiski Tartt, Ahkello Witherspoon and Ray-Ray Armstrong were seen jawing at each other. Things got heated. The optics in a home blowout loss were not good.

There are plenty of questions, and here are some of the questions from The Day After that were submitted on our Facebook page:

What is the philosophy? Are we trying to win or develop players? Cause it seems you can't do both? (Frank Vega)
The 49ers are definitely trying to develop players. They are also trying to evaluate players. They are looking to the future, and they are not deploying a win-at-all-cost approach this season. They do not want to win an extra game or two this season at the expense of possibly making the team worse for the future.

That is why the 49ers, almost invariably, went with younger players at any position in which there was competition . . . Eli Harold over Ahmad Brooks; Trent Taylor over Jeremy Kerley; Raheem Mostert over Tim Hightower; etc.

It’s why the 49ers made the decision two weeks ago to part ways with NaVorro Bowman, who had expressed dissatisfaction over his reduced role. Bowman was still the 49ers’ best linebacker at the time. But he would not have been on the team next year, so the decision was made to release Bowman now and go with the other less-accomplished players. (The Raiders, by the way, say 'Thank you.')

Rookie C.J. Beathard is now the starting quarterback. Cole Hikutini has moved into the No. 2 role at tight end behind fellow rookie George Kittle. Ahkello Witherspoon is being weaved into the action at cornerback, splitting time with Rashard Robinson and Dontae Johnson.

The 49ers did not want to create a mirage. They did not want to win any games this season that would be the result of a veteran rent-a-player approach. In that respect, the 49ers have succeeded. The 49ers will be picking near the top of every round in the 2018 draft.

The risk, of course, is that the young players get beaten down so badly that they lose their confidence and their edge.

What do you make of Eric Reid’s move to LB? Is his time with Niners nearing the end? (Peter Chan)
The 49ers no longer use a “nickel” defense. They go straight from their base defense to six defensive backs whenever the opposition puts more than two wide receivers on the field. It’s not a true linebacker position Reid is playing. It’s considered more of a “big nickel," designed to give the 49ers more speed on third downs to cover and run to the ball.

Reid is no longer a starter. What it shows is that the 49ers are sold on Jaquiski Tartt being a long-term answer for the 49ers secondary. The 49ers view Tartt and Jimmie Ward as the starters for 2018. All things being equal, Reid will have a chance to go somewhere else next season and be a starter.

The 49ers are not committed to re-signing him on a deal that extends beyond this season.

Is it a coincidence that the two worst teams in the NFL have the most cap space? (Gary Staebler)
That is no coincidence at all. It is the very reason the Cleveland Browns and 49ers are the only two winless teams in the NFL.

The Browns have $61.6 million in cap space. The 49ers are currently $61 million under the cap. Next year, with carryovers of unused space, the 49ers and Browns are projected to both have more than $117 million in cap room, according to Overthecap.com.

Bad teams do not draft well.

Teams that do not draft well, do not sign their draft picks to lucrative second contracts.

Therefore, teams that do not draft well cannot spend a large portion of their cap space to retain their own players because they have no good players worth retaining.

49ers snap count: Reid no longer starter; rookies see more time on offense


49ers snap count: Reid no longer starter; rookies see more time on offense

Veteran safety Eric Reid returned from a knee injury that kept him out three games to discover he lost his starting job.

Strong safety Jaquiski Tartt has continued to serve as an every-down player for the 49ers’ defense. On Sunday, Reid played 48 snaps (64 percent) as the 49ers employed six defensive backs against the Dallas Cowboys three-receiver sets.

The 49ers had to adjust their sub package after nickel back K’Waun Williams sustained a hip injury. Rookie Adrian Colbert entered the game at safety with Jimmie Ward taking over Williams’ role. Colbert played 29 snaps.

Newly signed defensive linemen Leger Douzable and Tony McDaniel saw a lot of action in their 49ers debuts. Douzable played the third-most of any defensive lineman (behind Solomon Thomas and DeForest Buckner), seeing action on 47 of the team’s 75 snaps. McDaniel played 25 snaps.

On offense, the 49ers appear to be making a point to go with younger players. Rookie Cole Hikutini played 21 snaps, taking over as the No. 2 tight end over Garrett Celek and Logan Paulsen.

Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, another undrafted rookie, played a season-high 23 snaps. On fourth-and-4 from the Dallas 28 early in the third quarter, coach Kyle Shanahan decided to go for it instead of kicking a 46-yard field goal. Bourne was the intended target. But he stumbled after a spin move from the slot, and C.J. Beathard’s pass was incomplete.

“As I was throwing the ball he tripped,” Beathard said. “If he hadn’t tripped on a DB’s feet or whatever happened there, it would’ve been a big play.”

Here is a look at the 49ers’ playing time on offense, defense and special teams:

(66 plays)
Quarterback – C.J. Beathard 66
Running back – Carlos Hyde 51, Matt Breida 15
Wide receiver – Pierre Garçon 46, Trent Taylor 46, Marquise Goodwin 39, Aldrick Robinson 30, Kendrick Bourne 23
Tight end – George Kittle 31, Cole Hikutini 21, Garrett Celek 18, Logan Paulsen 11
Offensive line – Joe Staley 66, Daniel Kilgore 66, Laken Tomlinson 66, Brandon Fusco 52, Trent Brown 45, Garry Gilliam 20, Zane Beadles 14

(75 plays)
Defensive line – Solomon Thomas 61, DeForest Buckner 50, Leger Douzable 47, Earl Mitchell 38, Xavier Cooper 26, D.J. Jones 25, Tony McDaniel 25, Elvis Dumervil 15
Linebacker – Reuben Foster 53, Eli Harold 31, Ray-Ray Armstrong 27, Brock Coyle 22, Dekoda Watson 9
Cornerback – Dontae Johnson 63, Rashard Robinson 51, Ahkello Witherspoon 35, K’Waun Williams 20
Safety – Jaquiski Tartt 75, Jimmie Ward 75, Eric Reid 48, Adrian Colbert 29

(24 plays)
Elijah Lee 21, Coyle 21, Raheem Mostert 16, Celek 15, Colbert 16, Witherspoon 15, Breida 14, Harold 12, Hikutini 12, Armstrong 10, Tartt 10, Bradley Pinion 9, Jones 8, R.Robinson 8, Ward 8, Johnson 7, Kyle Nelson 6, Buckner 6, Thomas 6, Paulsen 6, Reid 5, Mitchell 5, Douzable 4, A.Robinson 3, Taylor 3, Robbie Gould 2, Foster 2, Staley 2, Kilgore 2, Gilliam 2, Beadles 2, Tomlinson 1, Fusco 1, Brown 1, Dumervil 1, Watson 1, Williams 1

QB Brian Hoyer

WR Victor Bolden
DB Dexter McCoil
FB Kyle Juszczyk (back)
LB Mark Nzeocha
LB Pita Taumoepenu
DL Aaron Lynch (calf)
OL Erik Magnuson