49ers-Colts: The stubborn-ness of Jimmy Raye?

A couple days ago we took a look at the chances the 49ers defense would have against the prolific Colts passing attack.  Today I thought we'd jump to the other side of the ball and look at the 49ers own offensive attack.  The Colts defense can definitely bring the heat, but even discounting that, there naturally remain a whole host of questions about the 49ers offense.

On Thursday, in the injury report I posted a transcript from OC Jimmy Raye.  I wanted to address a few points from that, so I've re-posted it after the jump.  In the press conference he had the following exchange:

On whether the offense has changed philosophically with QB Alex Smith:

"None."

On whether that was a no:

"None."

On whether quarterbacks with different talents change the offense at all:

"No."

I get that the team still wants to be a power-running team, but that last question and answer seems a bit off, at least to me.  Now I'm not saying you completely alter the offense, but it seems close-minded to not change the offense at all.  Of course, later Raye made some other comments:

On whether the team becomes more pass-oriented with Crabtree and TE Vernon Davis:

"I think so. I don't want to give you a misguided opinion that - what we were striving to do all along is to create balance. More passes or more of a running, whatever that connotation is, I think the apt description of where we would like to go with the changes that we've made, which will take some time to achieve more balance."

One final comment I wanted to pull out:

On what Smith brings that Hill did not:

"He is more comfortable in a drop situation, throwing the ball to all areas of the field, horizontally and vertical. I don't know if they knew that before they saw him play because they didn't have any tape on him to prepare for him because all they had seen was Shaun. To flip the script and go play different than they had practiced in preparing for Shaun Hill, all of a sudden they were playing with a guy that is comfortable reading out their entire play and playing to his strengths, which is throwing the big ends, throwing the ball up in the vertical crease and throwing the ball to the boundary. It was a little bit different for them."

As I read all of these comments, I realize Jimmy Raye does not want to show too much heading into Indianapolis.  It would appear as though the offense will be mixing things up a little more, but what do we really know for sure?  At one point Jimmy Raye mentioned not trying to force a square peg into a round hole (meaning not forcing the run), so is Raye showing an ability to adapt?  Do we really know for now?  A while back I introduced the Jimmy Raye approval rating.  I meant to run it this week but forget.  However, I actually think waiting through the Colts game will allow folks to get a better handle on how they feel about Raye.  Will we see a "spread out" vertical offensive attack mixed in with some power running?  Or will we see a little bit more of rush, rush, incompletion, punt?

Offensive Coordinator Jimmy Raye
Post-Walk Thru - October 29, 2009
San Francisco 49ers

On whether the offense has changed philosophically with QB Alex Smith:

"None."

On whether that was a no:

"None."

On whether quarterbacks with different talents change the offense at all:

"No."

On what WR Michael Crabtree does for the offense:

"Well, I think he played well in his first outing last week. I think he was somewhat of a - he had some chemistry with Alex Smith, obviously, because he had been here the week during the bye and they had thrown together, and he demonstrated an ability to catch the ball when he's in close confrontation with a defensive back. He has good burst off the line of scrimmage. I think it will help our perimeter game, which will, going forward, be necessary because of the effectiveness of the tight end inside. So, I think what he showed or demonstrated in the game Sunday will help us on the edge and the horizontal stretch of the defense will give us another avenue, another outlet to be able to get the ball and make them defend the whole field."

On whether the team becomes more pass-oriented with Crabtree and TE Vernon Davis:

"I think so. I don't want to give you a misguided opinion that - what we were striving to do all along is to create balance. More passes or more of a running, whatever that connotation is, I think the apt description of where we would like to go with the changes that we've made, which will take some time to achieve more balance."

On whether the team will go with more of a spread look:

"Maybe, but if you remember the game, that's what we opened the game in Sunday with [QB] Shaun Hill. We opened the game against Houston in three wide receivers, a tight end, one back and spread. We went three-and-out and punted the ball. We could. I think it depends on the opponent that we're playing. We're not going to be stubborn and try to jam a square peg into a round hole. But, that would be something that we would mix in because of the people that we have. We would mix that, and it wouldn't only be the way it has been in the past, only a third-down part of what we do. It could become a part of what we do early on as we see the opponent that we're playing, if it fits the plan that we have going forward."

On whether the implication of "square peg and round hole" is not trying to force the run:

"Yes."

On if he believes the team can still run the ball against eight-man fronts:

"Yes, I still think there are some elements of the run that you can still have. I think that the illusion of what happened in the second half of the Houston game has everybody, or most people, thinking that we've discovered this new Mecca or utopia kind of deal. I have to remind you, Alex Smith has been here all along, and the direction that our intent was to go was to help that position and our team with [RB Frank Gore]. That hasn't changed to the extent that we would become a one-back football team and create some other problems for ourselves that, outside of the locker, we are aware of that may not be apparent to the defensive teams that we're playing."

On what QB Alex Smith changed in the game when he came in:

"He was the life. What he did, what he infused in the psychic of the team offensively, the way he threw the ball and the way Frank was able to, in the second half, get some openings in the running game, I think we have to be careful to understand the structure and the circumstances of it was a 21-0 ball game when he entered it. His first drive, and maybe even his second drive, went for scores. Then we had a backed up situation and we had to punt. Then the third time he was in it went for a score. Then we had the ball with 1:38 and one timeout and a chance to put the ball in and get the game into overtime or win it. There was a foul on the preceding kick and we started at the 5-yard line, which made it a little more difficult. The things that he did, have to be weighed a little bit with the score and the time of the game. Not minimizing what he did, because that is a half of football that most quarterbacks in the NFL would love to have."

On what Smith brings that Hill did not:

"He is more comfortable in a drop situation, throwing the ball to all areas of the field, horizontally and vertical. I don't know if they knew that before they saw him play because they didn't have any tape on him to prepare for him because all they had seen was Shaun. To flip the script and go play different than they had practiced in preparing for Shaun Hill, all of a sudden they were playing with a guy that is comfortable reading out their entire play and playing to his strengths, which is throwing the big ends, throwing the ball up in the vertical crease and throwing the ball to the boundary. It was a little bit different for them."

On whether he would like continuity at the quarterback position the rest of the season:

"It seems like since we started there has been a different back, a different wide receiver, a different quarterback, a different tackle, a different guard. There has been a different something all the time. I think continuity, different form the way you all think and the way you all see it, continuity is very important to playing offensive football. Familiarity and continuity are things you are striving to get. So to answer your question, I would like to see us get to a point where we have a functioning five guys that have played together and are working cohesively together, a healthy situation in the backfield, wide receivers who have been here and have some cohesiveness and coordination with the quarterbacks. Going forward, that is what we hope to achieve. That would be nice."

On what the Colts defense presents:

"They present a defense that prides itself on rushing the quarterback. They play the run on the way to the quarterback. They are structured and built to play with the lead and they are in a building where they have an advantage with the noise and the snap count, so it has a bunch of problems that it creates. They have two defensive ends that are truly outstanding rushers. They have a perennial Pro Bowl guy on our offensive left and they play on the artificial surface inside where they have a little bit more of an edge because of that. So, we'll have a bit of a challenge ahead of us trying to be able to negate and slow that down and do the things that we want to do to attack them the way that we'd like to."

On whether it is a priority to get QB Alex Smith acclimated with two minute situations because of the delay of games during the Houston game:

"It was a problem on Sunday, yes. He wasn't the only problem. He hadn't had a competitive two-minute situation since awhile back because during this time of year, you get one on Thursday and a half of one Friday, you have to let the starting quarterback get those, but also in there, was a wide receiver that had no idea, that had not been in a two-minute situation before. He didn't know the alignments and calls and had to be coached through some things. Some formation things got screwed up, but we have addressed that this week and hopefully going forward, we will be a little bit better operating in that situation, but it was a problem last week because there were some people there that hadn't physically, even though they'd heard the words, hadn't physically been in that situation before and Alex hadn't had one - if I had to go back and check, I think since probably the week that we played Dallas, in the exhibition season."

On the final delay of game and the timeout was called:

"Critical. That's the mechanics of it. If you notice, [Coach] Sing on the sideline, asked the official for the timeout and I think Alex saw that and turned to walk and didn't turn himself to Mike Carey and asked for the timeout and this official, if you don't turn and get your hands over your head and ask for it, you didn't get it. So that was a critical point. At that point, there was 47 seconds to go. On third down we clocked the ball on the chunk play. Prior to that, we were operating in a three down deal with one timeout. It was third-and-six that went to fourth-and-six that went to fourth-and-11, which was the difference between us converting and being able to add on and get the ball in a position to kick. We should have used the timeout because the time was more important at that point than the timeout. The coach asked for the time from the boundary which he's allowed to do and that wasn't acknowledged and then when Alex saw the clock and turned and saw Mike doing [timeout signal] to the official, he didn't turn to Mike Carey and ask for it, so we got a five-yard delay and that five was big because now you are trying to convert fourth-and-11 as opposed to fourth-and-six."

On them taking a chance downfield on 4th-and-11:

"Yes, you had to throw it. You had to try and get in the air and hope to make a play. Then we would have been in another clock situation and then trying to get to the boundary to be able to get into range that we could get our kicker on the field."

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