Over the years, I really feel like the Madden and college football video games have gotten so overly complex that it's taken some of the fun out playing. You can run audibles for everything from a single player to your offensive line. You can run stunts and move your defense around. It's gotten insane. Maybe this is a sign I'm starting to get old, but "back in my day" (primarily college from 1997-2001), the games had a level of complexity but were relatively simple compared to today's games. However, one thing I have always loved is the "hot read." Even before you could audibilize individual receivers I usually had a receiver in a given set that I was comfortable throwing to quickly if I picked up a blitz. For instance, in one of those college football games I ran a 5-receiver set that included a swing pass to one of the receivers that was simply a money play 9 times out of 10.
What does this have to do with the 49ers? Well, the last few days, as the media has gotten their last crack at viewing OTAs, Maiocco and Barrows have been discussing a dramatic change: 49ers QBs are utilizing hot reads instead of adjusting blocking assignments on the fly. I definitely see positives and negatives to the use of hot reads. When you have a specific play set up, or audibled to, you clearly think that specific play will work against the defense in place. With that in mind, the negative to using hot reads is that if you're forced to change on the fly, you might be playing into the defense's hands and either forced into an incompletion or a possible turnover. The positives to a hot read? Well a quicker pass would possibly be a shorter pass than previously planned, which might lead to a higher percentage of completions. A hot read takes some of the thinking out of the play. If you are instructed that on a blitz you are to throw to a specific receiver no matter what, a quarterback won't outthink himself or try to make too much happen.
So the question then is how well will this work with the 49ers quarterbacks? This would certainly lead to a decrease in sacks, which is always a good thing. Of course, if a receiver is not disciplined in his route and he's the hot read, if he's a yard or two the wrong way, it could lead to an increase in interceptions. So here's a relatively weak prediction: An increase in interceptions in the preseason. Nolan indicated he wanted this to carry over into the exhibition season (not exactly shocking news), and I would think as the QBs and WRs are learning the importance of precision in the Martz offense, there will be plenty of mistakes early on. I only hope that Nolan is patient enough to let Martz do his thing and work through the mistakes. If this was a young, inexperienced OC that would be a problem. However, I'd imagine Nolan has plenty of trust in the things Martz is trying to institute with the offense.
After the failures of the offensive line last year (most 49ers sacks allowed this decade), count me as at least intrigued to see how this helps in the protection of Smith/Hill/O'Sullivan. Furthermore, how the passing game develops accordingly. Considering all the changes being instituted, if the passing game is a success it will probably be hard to pinpoint one specific reason (other than "Mike Martz"). However, I think the use of hot reads could play a big role in any potential success.