So, after another week of Tebow overload I've been thinking about how his befuddling success while being largely terrible at throwing the ball could relate to our beloved 49ers. The first thing I noticed is how teams are struggling to maintain gap discipline against the read option play. Now I'm not one who thinks the Broncos can have success long term with an option offense but in small doses the read option is a play that defenses can struggle to stop and needed to prepare for. This got me thinking about why wildcat plays have largely disappeared from the league and if the 49ers should consider bringing our version of it back.
Now, if you've made it this far without going to the comments to tell me what an idiot I am for wanting to bring this formation back after it was so disastrous in the past I'm just going to ask for a few more paragraphs to explain why I think it could be effective in a return engagement.
1.) No more Michael Robinson. Now this is not meant to take shots at MRob who by all accounts appeared to be a good guy, an extremely hard worker, and an outstanding special teamer, but he was not a good runner. This is why he bounced around between 4th string RB and back-up FB in his time with the 49ers. Trying to design a package of runs revolving around putting the ball in his hands was just a horrible mistake.
Singletary wasn't the only coach to make this mistake, and I think it is one of the main reason that the Wildcat was mostly written of as a passing fad. Other coaches tried to copy the Dolphins without really knowing what they were doing. Digging through the depth charts to find some player who was once a QB back in high school or college to run the Wildcat is a big mistake. The Wildcat should be viewed as a power running formation similar to a jumbo package, don't try to trick the other team into thinking you're going to pass, just line up and get it in the hands of your best runner quickly.
2.) The 49ers actually have more than one good RB now. The gimmick that allows the Wildcat to be successful is not in getting the other team to think your special teams gunner might throw the ball against them, it's presenting the defense with two dangerous runners and forcing them to make a decision on who to stop. Now that the 49ers have both Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter, they are capable of running a Wildcat formation that actually presents two legitimate threats to run the ball.
3.) Frank Gore is a very smart runner. Now this isn't anything new compared to the last time the Tazer was around, but in the new reincarnation I'm proposing Frank Gore should be the guy taking the snap. Gore has been praised up and down by coaches and team mates for having off the charts football IQ and his ability to read the defense pre-snap and understand blocking schemes. He is also a very patient runner with an almost preternatural ability to sense where the hole in the line is going to open up. To me, this sounds like the perfect guy to run a read option play.
OK, so that's what I got. It seems like if we can suppress the initial gag reflex that arises upon first mention of the terrible Tazer formation, there are enough good reasons to trot it back out a couple of times a game and give the other teams something to think about.