Stevie Wonder, Four Aces, and the Offense

Newly acquired local boy WR (born in SF, raised in Fairfield, and an alum of Chabot College) Stevie Johnson recently said that the Niners at this point have “four #1 recievers.” Including himself in the VD, Crabs, and Anquan Boldin mix. Funny thing is, he’s kinda right. They’ve all put up 1,000 yard seasons over the years (well, VD has reached 900+ a couple times), and all have had solid seasons.

The issue here is, stop me if you’ve heard this before, is whoever they designate as #3, will that guy get on the field more than 25% of the time? Because that is the fate of most 49er 3rd string WRs. Ted Ginn recently held that distinction, and was limited to basically a mop-up role. Last year, everybody was hurt, and or Kyle Williams, so the Niners got nothing out of the 3rd string guy.

Using 2012 as the last season where we had a fairly healthy WR corps, Randy Moss was the 3. 28 catches, 435 yards, 3 TDs. Not horrible by any stretch, but does anyone here feel he was used as much as he should have been? In 2011 our 3 (KW) caught 20 balls.  Last year? Well, we had 3s that were pretty much number twos. Turds. Guys who could not get open. Just flipping through Pro-football-reference.com shows that most 3s get something like 50, 600 yards. And I’m not hitting teams like Atl or NE where their 3s get around 60, 750.

Which brings us to the present. The sounds coming out of 4949 Centennial Blvd are that Harbaugh understands he needs to open the sardine can. Teams are keying on the 1-2 WR formations as our run set and successfully stopping our run game, and thus setting up 3rd and long.  Beyond the fact that this has been a recurring problem since the Nolan/Hostler days, let me say, meh. We’ve all heard this before. From Norv Turner saying “Alex really gets it this year” to Singletary saying “Alex is doing really well throwing deep balls” to now Harbaugh saying “We need to integrate more 3 WR sets on 1st and 2nd down.” After the praise, the talk of opening things up and the like, we get Gore, Gore Gore.

The run game works against teams like Tennessee, Jacksonville, and the Rams (not any more), but this plan stalled out against Seattle, Indy, and NO. Teams that stuff our run game. What happens is the 49ers then face a lot of 3rd and long plays. Plays where the defense can blitz and force turnovers, sacks, and fumbles. Which is why the Niners are always near the top of the list for 3-and-out drives.  

So, to me this merely sounds like the chatter they always spout when talking about the upcoming season, and how different things will be. Seeing as their first priority for an offensive player in the draft this year was a running back, I don’t think things will change any time soon.  I fear that Stevie Wonder will be relegated to 15-20 plays a game, and 3-4 catches per if he’s lucky. Welcome back, Stevie. Hope you get on the field more than I think you will.

About unca_chuck

Lifelong SF 49ers, SF Giants, and Golden State Warriors fan
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57 Responses to Stevie Wonder, Four Aces, and the Offense

  1. Spitblood says:

    Now begins the rise of the 49ers’ offense, and the fall of the 49ers’ defense. Capital will be invested in the offense, and less draft emphasis and money will be sunk into the defense. Then it’s just a question of whether or not Greg Roman will be able to run the show effectively. She used to be an old Ford truck that Greg could crash into the dike while drinking. Now she’s a fine sports car and Greg better not fuck up.

  2. 12th man says:

    Funny thing is Roman drives a new ford f150 truck. My guess is Harbaugh takes on more offensive design and play calling. It must be obvious by now even to the brain trust that the need to unclog the middle a bit more, at least I hope it is.

  3. unca_chuck says:

    That’s the hope, 12th. The thing is, Harbaugh knows he won’t get his big payday, at least from the Niners, if he doresn’t reach the goal.

  4. Spitblood says:

    Frank Gore is going to die hard. That much I know for sure. And there’s gonna be tension between Gore and Rathman this season. The only way this offense will open up is with Frank on the sidelines. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – when Frank is in the game, defenses know what he can and can’t do. That’s why we just drafted an all-purpose back in Carlos Hyde. Furthermore, it’s absolutely why Unca Chuck thinks the Seattle D was so great in the NFC Championship game.

    Any Bull Durham fans out there? When Eppy Calvin La Lushe (sp?) shakes off Crash Davis, Crash tells the hitter the pitch. In that particular instance, the hitter looks as though he’s dialed in. But really if you know what’s coming we all look like Willie Mays. The Seattle defense, with Frank Gore in the game, looked like Willie Mays. The rock was going up the middle. Crash Davis didn’t have tell to Pete Carroll and his boys anything.

    If the 49ers want to open up the offense, Frank needs to sit, and that won’t “sit” well with Frank. Personally, I’d cut Frank. I know. You hate me for typing it. My fingers almost went on strike. But my brain wins over my heart. Now my penis?… that’s a horse of a different color, but I digress. The point is, if the 49ers want to win close games with their offense, Frank needs to take a powder, and I can see Frank Gore having epic blowup fights with Rathman on the sidelines. That’s going to be interesting. Rathman and Gore know each other probably better than any head coach / player on the team. Better than Kaep and Harbaugh. Rathman loves Frank, and Frank loves Rathman. But here’s the thing… the powers that be – the higher ups – will tell Rathman to keep Frank on the sidelines and Frank will come unglued. That will be, in my opinion, the true test of Frank Gore’s legacy. How does he handle slowly being put out to pasture?

    If I was Frank Gore, I’d want out right now. There’s a possibility he’ll go to another team next year, but I’d want out now. I’d see the writing on the wall, and I’d ask for a trade to a team that needed my services and wasn’t hoping to get so dynamic on offense. But that’s me. I have as much loyalty in me as old Crash Davis telling the opposing hitter what’s coming. But I wouldn’t do it knowing it’d help ole’ Eppy. I’d do it to keep in the minors. Who the hell wants a coaching job in Visalia? The fuck not me.

    And PS….. Watch. Matt Maiocco will now do a story on Frank Gore and Tom Rathman. I wish I could put Maiocco in the Bull’s mascot and throw fastballs at his head. He might not suck so much cock after.

  5. unca_chuck says:

    Whatever, Spit. Hyde won’t be able to run through holes that aren’t there either. Trying to run out of 2 WR formations as we do so often doesn’t work well for anyone, let alone Frank. Put 3 WRs out wide and you have a better chance to run. I know this blows NoFear’s mind but there you go. Well, that and not having your FB as your slot WR. Of course, you have to throw deep for this to work as well. I’d say 95% of the time the opposition knows we aren’t going to throw deep. Andy Reid used to do just that the first pay of the game against just about everyone. Just to test the defense. See how they react.

    • Spitblood says:

      I’m not givin’ you shit, brother. I just disagreed with your assessment after the game. I think people have been blaming Harbaugh and Roman without realizing they were committed to trying to win a Super Bowl with Gore knowing full well Gore’s limitations. I don’t think there’s anyone to blame, really. Harbaugh loves Gore. Harbaugh wanted to win a Super Bowl with Gore as a major contributor. It didn’t happen not because Seattle’s D was so good against the run but because when Frank was in there everyone knew where he’d try to go. The Saints’ rushing attack showed in the game prior Seattle’s rush D wasn’t that great. Frank was the reason we lost the NFC Championship game. But I still love the guy.

      • unca_chuck says:

        How do the Saints run? They run with 3-4 WRs on the field EVERY everloving play. This creates room on the inside. They line up graham cracker wide as a WR. Shit to unload the box. We INVITE 8-9 in the box with our formations.

    • unca_chuck says:

      I’m not giving you shit either, Spit. I’m pissed off at the play calling. My point is, Jim Brown wouldn’t have done much better facing 8-9 guys trying to stop the run on every play. Gore isn’t the problem. He never had breakaway speed. You act like he’s drooling all over himself out there. He’s pretty much what he’s been since he got here. The running style for years has been bang your head against the wall 15-20 times a game in the hope that they block one right and he breaks it for a big gain. Like the home Seattle game. It worked in that case. Their whole style of offense is to keep the score close to try to win on the last drive. How many of their games end that way? 75%?

      They rarely come out and attack offensively. Look at the goddamn Seattle playoiff game. Niners get the ball 1st and 10 on their 12 and do they even try a shot in the end zone? No. Go for the throat, don;lt be a bunch of pussies. Instead, they take the safe way out. 2 yard run, 2 yard pass, 4 yard run. 3 points. Fuck that. I’d rather see them turn the ball over being aggressive than puss out with the shitty plays they ran there.

      What aggrivates me is this is the exact style Nolan and Singletary went with. Harbaugh’s just a little better at finishing. What has it gotten them? Close but no cigar. They have a QB with a gigantic arm, and he’s (so far) pretty much relegated to thowing Alex Smith type passes. Outs and dig routes. 8-20 yard passes. No slants. No go routes. To WRs anyway. This team has a shitload of weapons that they need to start using. The hope is with all these WRs healthy and ready to go, they all get on the field at the same time.

      I’ll believe it when I see it. Besides you were advocating for this early last year. I don;t want them going all Mouse Davis, but there is a time and place for 3 WRs on 1st down. That’s all I’m saying. They can even run the same amount. Just do it out of different formations.

  6. Spitblood says:

    This is where you and I disagree. It’s not Greg Roman or the play calling. It’s Frank Gore. Good coaches know their players and coach and call plays around their talents. Greg Roman couldn’t run a bevy of plays in 2013 because Gore was so limited. Sweeps? No way. Not with Gore in the game. Defenses knew what Gore could and couldn’t do, and they took away his strengths. Gore tipped Roman’s hand pre-snap. When Hunter was in the game, the ball was going outside the tackles. When Gore was in, the ball was going inside. This was the problem with the play calling. It was obvious and Roman was limited by Gore. But the 49ers knew this and were determined to give Gore a shot at ring with him as the bell cow. But to a point. This is exactly why we brought in Hyde, an all purpose back for 2013. I think what Hyde says is that Gore had his shot in 2013. Now it’s time for someone else.

    To make matters worse, Kaep both couldn’t throw deep well, AND he didn’t have a “take the top off the receiver” deep threat. The offense was limited in two different ways by personnel. I’m not apologizing for Roman. I would have done things a lot differently. I’m not a big Roman fan, but I just think a lot of bloggers have mis-diagnosed the problem with our offense last year.

  7. Spitblood says:

    …. for 2014….

  8. unca_chuck says:

    Gore never ran sweeps. That never has been part of his game. The only difference between how he was used early in his career and now is the fact that Harbaugh doesn’t use him on screen plays like Mike & Mike did. He used to catch 30-40 balls a year. That is down to 20~25. Mainly so he can block. I wish they did use him on more dump-offs and outlets.

    Gore’s a between the tackles, hit the hole runner. Always was. Still is. Like I said, it’s not like he all of a sudden got old and slow. He’s ALWAYS been slow. He has never been a breakaway guy or a sweep runner. Besides, it is very hard to run sweeps when there are 9 defenders playing on the line. If Hunter came in (or LMJ) and ran successful sweeps then your argument might hold water. The deal is NO ONE besides Gore runs very well in this offense. Mainly because he uses his blockers extremely well, hits the hole harder than just about anyone, and they give him a shitload of chances to break one.

    • Spitblood says:

      The hell Gore didn’t run sweeps…. he definitely ran outside the tackles.

      • unca_chuck says:

        When? In college? Nolan didn’t run him outside the tackles much, if at all. Same with Sing. Hence smashmouth football. When we had roadgraders Larry Allen and Justin Smiley as guards, we ran up the middle. Kwame Harris was a shitty tackle, couldn’t set the edge to save his life. Jennings was OK, but the strength was run up the gut.

      • Spitblood says:

        I can remember many plays in 2011, Harbaugh’s first year, where Gore ran off tackle. That’s not necessarily a sweep, but it’s running around the end and not up the gut. He wasn’t good at it, but they ran it.

  9. unca_chuck says:

    Besides, this team hasn’t run sweeps well since the Roger Craig days.

  10. Irish Kevin says:

    Spit is right, the niner run game is very 1 dimensional. I have often wondered why Gore has not been used more in the passing game. Because he was not I always thought he didn’t have the hands to catch passes. But according to Chuck he could? Was he ever able to break one for a long gain? Were they mostly screens? were any down the field. say 5 yards past the line? I don’t remember him or anyone else catching a lot of passes with Mike and Mike at the helm.

  11. unca_chuck says:

    The Niner run game is one-dimensional by design. Like I said, you can’t run sweeps when your offense has 2 WRs, and the defense regularly puts 9 guys on the line to jam everything up. Here are Gore’s career numbers as a WR. Notice the drop-off when Harbaugh gets here.

    Mike & Mike
    2005 – 15 – 131 – 0
    2006 – 61 – 485 – 1
    2007 – 53 – 436 – 1
    2008 – 43 – 373 – 2
    2009 – 52 – 406 – 3
    2010 – 46 – 452 – 2

    Harbaugh
    2011 – 17 – 114 – 0
    2012 – 28 – 234 – 1
    2013 – 16 – 141 – 0

    That’s a pretty big drop in production. Sure it saves him some wear and tear getting hit, but he was blocking rather than catching balls.

  12. NoFear49er says:

    Actually, Harbaugh/Roman’s run up the middle less than Singletary-Tomsula/Raye, Nolan-Singletary/Martz and Nolan/Hostler or Turner. The run up-the-middle guy was Singletary with the power over guard. Nolan ran about 20% over the ends and Harbaugh’s been 25%, falling to 19% in 2013. Perception and ranting fans notwithstanding.

    There’s no doubt Gore isn’t as fast in the open field as he once was. But he’s always been a top receiver until CK7. Mostly thanks to check-down Charlie, not any more blocking duties.

    • unca_chuck says:

      We were talking about sweeps.Sweeps. Same goes for you, Spit.

      Since you got all those answers, NoFear. How many of the running plays were sweeps? 3%? Less?

      Duh.

  13. NoFear49er says:

    And all you PC patsies in the bag for Mr Sam, “all he wants to do is play football”, well, I told ya so. Dupes! It’s really all about Sam and all about gay. NFL and football is just a convenient stage to rally more dummies. Be sure to buy more jerseys and set your DVRs.

    • unca_chuck says:

      Mike Sam sure looks like a tool for doing a reality show. As far as what NoFear is talking about, get out your special decoder rings, kids!

      It’s all about the football? Uh, no Mike. It’s all about cashing in. How about you make the team first? If I’m Fisher, I may just pull the trigger now and avoid the whole mess.

      If he gets cut, what happens? Oh well. Another career cut short by greed. I guess it would be a special thrill for Oprah’s viewers if Jeff Fisher cuts him on live TV.

    • unca_chuck says:

      That post is positively bullitt-like. Happy a s little girl, are you?

  14. unca_chuck says:

    Yeah, according to NoFear, this is a PR stunt by the NFL to draw in more gay football fans.

    Or something like that.

    What next, a lesbian placekicker?

    • Spitblood says:

      I bet Rosie O’Donnell could play nose tackle. I’d make Ellen a slot receiver, although I’d want someone sexier to play with the slot…. I mean in the slot…. play slot. Maybe Ellen’s wife, that girl from …. was it Boston Legal? Portia? Lesbians make me lose my mind. I’d put Jodie Foster at qb. I’d make her audible “Pinball machine!” I’d put Queen Latifa just about any where. Even though she’s not bisexual, she’d play both ways. She’d play left tackle and make Jonathan Ogden blush with her pancakes. Then she’d play outside linebacker on D, and finally she’d kick and be the gunner on specials teams – and be the punt returner. You can’t tackle Queen Latifa. I dare you. Actually, she’d play RB. Rosie O’Donnell would play left tackle. Honestly, I don’t know that some teams in the NFL could defend Rosie as say FB and Queen Latifa running the ball. The Jaguars couldn’t stop that. I’d have Meridith Baxter Burney be the head coach. She seems level-headed enough. Hell, she helped Micheal J Fox navigate some crazy times as class president. I’m sure she could help Aldon with his guns and booze and with his new bomb-making hobby.

  15. rtfirefly says:

    Martina Navritilova at strong safety. Former Giants right handed closer Randy Moffitt’s sister, Billie Jean King, at free safety. Martina doubles at right guard cuz she hits like a semi, with Billie Jean at tight end (don’t ask me why, maybe it’s the glasses).
    Hey, I can get into this. Beats heck out of the draft.

  16. So most know that Wes Welker won big on Derby Day and was making it rain with the Benjamins. Well apparently there was some sort of tote/human error and Welker was paid $15,000 extra. After learning of their mistake, Churchill Downs wants their 15K back.

    Wes Welker went to the replay booth and said upon further review, stick it up your ass. Does the track hunt down players who are underpaid and try to give them more money? I don’t think so. Atta boy, Wes. Stick it to the Man who’s trying to stick you.

  17. unca_chuck says:

    Hah! Did everyone get overpaid, or just Wes? You goin’ with Dumb Ass Partners today, Dennis?

  18. Spitblood says:

    Del – Could we have our first triple crown winner in like…. forever? You know you’re horses. Isn’t the last race the longest and the one that always trips the horses up who’ve won the first two? Is California Chrome a short horse (meaning more quick than fast, breed for the Derby, etc) or is he all things to all horses?

  19. unca_chuck says:

    Yeah it’s .25 miles further than the KD. Ca chrome hasn’t blown the field away so he might get caught in a longer race. Alydar?

    • Spitblood says:

      Who the fuck asked you? Is your name Del? I don’t think it is.

      • Nipper says:

        fight?

      • Spit, I don’t know and I don’t give a flying fuck. Why? I’ll tell ya why. I’m able to “walk” again. All my hard pre-physical therapy therapy apparently paid off. Doc said on Thursday I could shed the walking boot and give it a try. Now mind you, I’m still in a hard-soled walking sandal, but it sure in the hell beats the sit outta of that just-below-the-knee boot.

        And best yet. No more “Old Lady” walker to help get my ass around. You know who’s even more pleased with the news? Frank. He hated the site and the noise made by that “Old Granny” machine. I’m still limping, but I’m limping with a smile on my face.

        And guess what? I’m gonna smile and limp my ass all the way up to the liquor store right now.

        I’m buying. Drinks are on Del!

      • Spitblood says:

        You’re a committed degenerate and that’s respectable as long as committed doesn’t mean locked up.

  20. I truly wish the rest of you mooks could experience that feeling when you rest your head upon your pillow after losing every red cent to your name.

    It’s only money.

  21. I paid good money so my girlfriend could go see this shit at the time.
    I want my money back

    • unca_chuck says:

      That’s dedication. You coundn’t pay me to see that shit. Fortunately my old GF was in to Roy Buchanan and the Clash . . .

      • Spitblood says:

        There’s a fine line between dedication and no nuts.

        My foot is still the size of a football. Thankfully it’s not broken, but swollen still, after a week, would be an understatement. But even if it was broken in twelve places, you wouldn’t get my ass behind a walker. Walkin’ on Sunshine with a walker? I have no words.

  22. Nipper says:

    Spitfire grounded?

  23. unca_chuck says:

    Flying high in April. Shot down in May.

  24. unca_chuck says:

    For you, Dennis:

  25. unca_chuck says:

    New thread is up. Clean up the puke, Nippy.

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