Greg Roman says the 49ers work on screen plays in practice and they “always have them in our back pocket.” This year, there might be a better opportunity to move them from the back pocket to the play list.
One of the reasons is the change at center. While veteran Jonathan Goodwin was smart and a calming force on the offensive line, he wasn't known for his athleticism. His probable replacement, Daniel Kilgore, has quicker feet and the ability to block down field.
“He's really good in space, at the second level,” Roman said Saturday. “He's a very good athlete.”
LaMichael James' presence also could lead to more screens. He's the quickest tailback on the roster. And while he's been working on running between the tackles in the NFL, he was very effective at operating in space in college. He averaged 12.4 yards a catch his final season at Oregon.
Still, Roman noted that defenses often don't give him the ability to call a lot of screens. That's due to quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Roman said. Because opponents fear him escaping the pocket and taking off down field, they are more disciplined in their pass rush and rarely fire up field.
“People weren't just rushing up the field mindlessly to a spot,” Roman said. “A lot of teams that are really good at screens, that's what they see.”