The New 49ers OC: A Raye of Hope? (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of my statistical look at Jimmy Raye II. Yesterday in Part 1, I evaluated Raye's previous offenses, compared his credecntials to those of the other 49er OC candidates, compared his OC performance with that of other current OCs, and compared his credentials to those of recent 49er OCs at the time that they were hired. In Part 2, I'm going to attempt a prediction for Raye's offense in 2009. Enjoy.

BACK TO THE FUTURE

From Part 1, we can draw 4 conclusions about Jimmy Raye II:

  • His previous offenses weren't as bad as some pundits and Chicken Littles seem to think, especially when you consider how relatively inefficient offenses were league-wide during those seasons.
  • He compared favorably to the other OC candidates, especially after Linehan was off the table.
  • He compared favorably to the more well-known OCs in recent 49er history.
  • His major drawback is a tendency for offenses to regress in his first year as OC.

Given these conclusions, what can we therefore expect from the Niners' offense next season (and beyond)? This is actually a multi-faceted question. In order to answer it, we need to examine how previous OCs's stats have changed after inheriting the 49ers' offensive personnel, as well as how the 49ers' stats have changed after inheriting a new OC. Below is a table addressing the first part (Hostler, Tollner, and Norv's DAL stats are omitted again; See here for an explanation of table abbreviations):

OC

TOTAL

TRK

TRKIMPYR1

WEIGHT

WRK

PASS

PRK

RUSH

RRK

VAR

VRK

Martz  (Pre-SF)

4.7%

15.3

12

2.2%

16.3

14.7%

11.7

-9.9%

18.3

7.7%

19.7

Martz (SF)

-14.6%

27.0

5

-14.1%

28.0

-18.5%

29.0

-9.7%

27.0

4.6%

6.0

DIFFERENCE

-19.3%

-11.7

-7

-16.3%

-11.7

-33.2%

-17.3

0.2%

-8.7

-3.1%

13.7

 

Turner, N. (Pre-SF)

-2.2%

16.3

11.5

-6.2%

19.7

-2.6%

17.3

-2.5%

16.7

7.6%

19.3

Turner, N. (SF)

-7.8%

22.0

10

-7.5%

22.0

-13.9%

26.0

-2.1%

13.0

7.3%

20.0

DIFFERENCE

-5.6%

-5.7

-1.5

-1.3%

-2.3

-11.3%

-8.7

0.4%

3.7

-0.3%

-0.7

 

McCarthy (Pre-SF)

-2.4%

19.4

11

-2.1%

17.0

-0.7%

17.0

-4.3%

17.8

6.4%

13.8

McCarthy (SF)

-39.8%

32.0

-3

-38.3%

32.0

-63.1%

32.0

-19.8%

30.0

12.4%

29.0

DIFFERENCE

-37.4%

-12.6

-14

-36.2%

-15.0

-62.4%

-15.0

-15.5%

-12.2

6.0%

-15.2

 

Average (Pre-SF)

0.0%

17.0

11.5

-2.0%

17.7

3.8%

15.3

-5.6%

17.6

7.2%

17.6

Average (SF)

-20.7%

27.0

4.0

-20.0%

27.3

-31.8%

29.0

-10.5%

23.3

8.1%

18.3

DIFFERENCE

-20.7%

-10.0

-7.5

-18.0%

9.7

-35.6%

13.7

-5.0%

5.7

0.9%

0.7

This table is pretty clear. An OC's patina of previous performance washes away when they arrive in Santa Clara. Given the massive hit his résumé took during the 2005 season, it must have come as a total shock to Mike McCarthy when the Packers actually showed interest in him for their head coaching position. Check out that 62.4% drop in passing efficiency! Or how about Martz seeing one of his offenses actually rank 29th in pass DVOA?

Obviously, Martz's precipitous passing decline was the result of monumental personnel differences between the 2008 49ers and the Greatest Show on Turf. But we shouldn't assume that personnel differences explain all of the discrepancy between pre-49ers and with-49ers OC performance. Here's why. McCarthy's QBs in NO were Jeff Blake, Jake Delhomme, and Aaron Brooks. Yes, that Aaron Brooks. Granted, these 3 were all better than Tim Rattay or a rookie Alex Smith, and Joe Horn was better than Brandon Lloyd, but 62.4% better??? I don't know about that. Also, Norv inherited much the same offense that McCarthy understandably abandoned, but his résumé didn't take nearly as big of a hit in 2006.

Nevertheless, I can't ignore the fact that personnel matters, and therefore, that the 49ers' offensive personnel has had a negative impact on its OCs' career DVOA stats. Now, let's examine the second part of the question: What kind of impact have post-Mooch OCs had on the 49ers' offensive performance. Here are the relevant stats, which I've broken into two tables for the sake of readability:

OC

YEAR

TOTAL

TRK

TRKIMP

WEIGHT

WRK

WRKIMP

VAR

VRK

VRKIMP

Martz

2008

-14.6%

27

5

-14.1%

28

4

4.6%

6

19

Hostler

2007

-30.5%

32

-10

-27.4%

32

-10

9.1%

25

-5

Turner, N.

2006

-7.8%

22

10

-7.5%

22

10

7.3%

20

9

McCarthy

2005

-39.8%

32

-3

-38.3%

32

-1

12.4%

29

-13

Tollner

2004

-22.8%

29

-20

-25.2%

31

-23

6.6%

16

14

AVERAGE

-23.1%

28.4

-3.6

-22.5%

29.0

-4.0

8.0%

19.2

4.8

OC

YEAR

PASS

PRK

PRKIMP

RUSH

RRK

RRKIMP

Martz

2008

-18.5%

29

3

-9.7%

27

-2

Hostler

2007

-43.9%

32

-6

-11.1%

25

-12

Turner, N.

2006

-13.9%

26

6

-2.1%

13

17

McCarthy

2005

-63.1%

32

-4

-19.8%

30

2

Tollner

2004

-21.3%

28

-21

-24.6%

32

-24

AVERAGE

-32.1%

29.4

-4.4

-13.5%

25.4

-3.8

OK, a little bit of a tangent first. This table should effectively end any debate about whether or not Mike Martz should have been retained. The guy's 49er offense had a worse rush DVOA ranking than Jim Hostler's!!! Oh, and those Martz-Norv comparisons? Norv produced a better rushing offense and a better passing offense. In fact, the only aspect of 49er offensive DVOA that Martz improved turns out to be week-to-week, or should I say "weak-to-weak," consistency. In other words, Martz's 49er offense was consistent...consistently inefficient. Now, back to the main event...

Looking at all of the columns with "IMP" in the heading, we can see that Norv Turner was the only recent 49er OC to produce any meaningful improvement in the 49ers' offensive DVOA rankings. In light of the 2005 disaster that preceded him, these improvements are all the more impressive (e.g., the +50% change in passing DVOA). Norv's success is relevant in the current context because, as has been described elsewhere, Turner and Raye are both disciples of the 3-digit "Air Coryell" system. Indeed, their careers dovetailed in LA and WAS, and rendezvoused in OAK when Raye was Turner's OC.

BOTTOM LINE

Because Norv's success in 2006 suggests that a run-oriented, 3-digit offense best matches the 49ers' personnel, a return to this system under Raye bodes well for the 49ers' offense in 2009. How well exactly is hard to tell, especially without knowing (a) who the starting QB is, (b) who the 49ers add in free agency, (c) who they draft, and (d) how far along Jason Hill and Josh Morgan are in their path to elite WR status. Nevertheless, based on what I've presented in this article, and barring any major personnel changes and/or injuries, I'd conservatively estimate that the 49ers' offensive DVOAs will look something like -10% overall, -5% running, and -15% passing. That's not great, but it would qualify as the 2nd best offense the 49ers have had since the revolving door swung open for the first time. How's that for a Raye of hope!

 

**DVOA statistics used to produce this article were obtained from Football Outsiders.

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