Jimmy Raye and the offensive line have probably been the two biggest punching bags to date for the 49ers offensive woes. The quarterback position gets plenty of criticism, but I think Raye and the o-line have surpassed that. Even Coach Singletary, in his press conference yesterday, praised Alex Smith's performance to date, indicating that he felt Smith was turning into a complete quarterback.
Fooch's Note: Viliphied has a fantastic FanPost looking at the team's success using a "spread" offense. Initially I was worried about similarities, but I think there is enough difference to stick with my original post. This is more of a broader overlook at what people really want in the offense and the term "spread offense."
The major criticism/suggestion lately has been to switch to more of a spread style offense. Although this is the Jimmy Raye Approval Rating, and we'll be discussing Raye's play-calling, I wanted to focus more on the offensive philosophy and this idea of a "spread offense." People throw the term out there in a variety of contexts, and I think it'd be useful to clarify that context. In yesterday's press conference, somebody asked Mike Singletary about this issue and Singletary asked for clarification. In that instance, the reporter meant utilizing the shotgun more frequently with more receivers on the field.
Here at Niners Nation, we've heard a variety of comments about the spread, and I'd like to bring them together in this post. I've heard comments discussing everything from simply the number of receivers on the field, to using the shotgun with receivers, to discussions about something like the Jim Kelly offense used in Buffalo back in the early 90s. I guess I'm just trying to get a better understanding of what people want in the 49ers offense, at least as it's constituted personnel-wise at this point in time.
When I look at the shotgun, I see a couple issues. First, would the team be able to effectively run from that formation? Somebody mentioned how Thurman Thomas was an effective running back in Buffalo's offense, but I'd like a little more detail on that if you can provide it. Do running plays from the shotgun become more direct-snap plays, as opposed to hand-offs? The other issue I have is the offensive line. If it takes the pass rush X amount of time to get to the quarterback, wide receivers only have X amount of time to run routes and get open. If the QB is in the shotgun, and doesn't drop much further back, isn't it going to take the same X amount of time for pass rushers to get in his face? I suppose there's an extra half second or so, but is that enough time? With the offensive line performing as it currently is, it seems incredibly difficult to develop any kind of deep vertical game since you need time for your receivers to run their routes.
So, I guess this is more of a general inquiry into the offense. Sort of a, how would you operate the offense the rest of this season with the personnel in place?