49ers Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana is in the midst of a promotional campaign for Kraft Fight Hunger, which culminates with the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on New Year's Eve at AT&T Park in San Francisco. While promoting the cause (click Like on the Kraft Fight Hunger Facebook page to help donate meals) Montana discussed the return of the West Coast offense under Coach Jim Harbaugh.
Apparently, when one of Montana's sons was being recruited, Stanford was in the mix. During this process, Joe got a chance to check out some of the playcalls and noticed some virtually identical terminology in certain instances. While discussing the return of the West Coast offense, Montana urged a bit of patience:
"Once the quarterbacks figure out that system, what their role really is, big plays happen," Montana said. "You don't have to try to make them happen. You just have to keep moving the ball and keep the completions coming. I think you'll see a difference as the year goes on."
The lockout created an impediment to learning the new offensive system. It slowed down implementation of the offense and left the 49ers scrambling a bit as training camp begin. Where many teams are using the second and third preseason games to prepare for week one of the regular season, week two of the preseason has seen the 49ers still implementing aspects of both their offense and defense.
In his Tuesday press conference, Coach Harbaugh said the team would use this third preseason game as most teams have typically used it:
Jim, the third preseason game is typically we're a team, it's getting most ready for the regular season, they get their starters going, they game plan for their opponent. This is a different season for the 49ers. How are you approaching this third preseason game as going to be different than the first two games? What do you need to see? What differences will there be in how much you play your first teamers?
"Well, traditionally, historically, the third preseason game in the National Football League, is the game that you game plan like you would in the regular season, where starters play the entire first half, come out of the halftime playing to the third quarter. Where you want to get them into two-minute drive situations, coming out after half, third down, short yardage, goal line, backed up, you know, as many situations as you possibly can, and traditionally that's the way it's been and that's our approach."
Are you going to have that same approach?
"Yeah, we are taking that approach."
It remains to be seen where the 49ers are currently at when it comes to preseason preparation. Early in camp, Coach Harbaugh once describe the team as being where they might be in May during a normal year. Now they're hoping to be in a position to be where most teams are at week three of the preseason.
While I think the team will be prepared in a general sense for the start of the regular season in 18 days, I'm less inclined to believe the offense will be 100% on the ball in terms of being able to execute all the intricacies of the offense. I'm hoping for the best, but the context of the situation doesn't exactly put them in a position to go off like gang-busters from day one.
The question then becomes how long it will take and how easy or rough that transition will be. They face the Seahawks and Cowboys at home, followed by the Bengals on the road. Then things get particularly tough as they travel to Philadelphia, host Tampa Bay and travel to Detroit before the bye week.
Will they be where they need to be at this point? What kind of patience will you have with the offense early in the season?