Here is more of the Mike Martz interview I have been s ... t ... r ... e ... t ... c ... h ... i ... n ... g out over the past week. And yes, I've noticed that when Martz talks about his new offensive players he sounds like a proud papa reaching for his wallet to show you his beautiful babies. And yes, Martz had many gushing things to say two years ago about his offensive weapons on the Detroit Lions. But I think the bottom line is that over spring practices Martz was pleasantly and genuinely surprised by what he has to work with in San Francisco. The talent level here certainly is better than No. 32, which is where the offense ranked last season.
The key in this segment is what Martz says about Frank Gore's ability to learn his system. Remember, Gore had a low-low Wonderlic score entering the draft, and teams worried about his dyslexia almost as much as they did his surgically repaired knees. Learning the playbook, however, never has been an issue for Gore since joining the 49ers.
Q: Did anything surprise you about Frank Gore during minicamp and OTAs?
MM: "He's a one-time guy. You tell him once and he has it. That's really a remarkable quality. He really learns fast. He's a very sharp guy. So that means you can use him in a variety of ways, if you will. So, no, he's been outstanding with that. Usually guys who have been featured runners with a limited exposure, it's hard for them. He's not been that way at all. We've been able to put him out there has a wideout, we've motioned him outside, we've used him in a variety of ways. He's retained it, done an exceptional job with it and just really learns quick. The other thing I didn't realize until I saw him in person is how explosive he is when he runs the football. He has a gear he gets to - you blink and he's in it. He's a special player, there's no question about it. He's an elite player in this league. I'm just so excited to have him."
Q: A lot of people think he's going to be Marshall Faulk. Is that accurate?
MM: "I don't think that's right to say. I think Marshall's Marshall, Frank is Frank. Frank has his own skill set. Frank is Frank. There are things that we'll play to that are really strengths of his."
Q: Running between the tackles?
MM: "Well, anywhere. He's got that speed and explosiveness. He does it all. He really does. He's a physical guy that you can hammer or you can use him as a perimeter guy. So, I don't think I'd put a limitation on what he can do, really. It will be kind of fun to see."
Q: Did you know much about Michael Robinson coming in?
MM: "No, I really didn't. I really didn't know. All the coaches were so high on him and he had such little experience as a runner. I looked at him on tape and he looked so natural at it. We got out here and he's another of those high-character, learns-quickly guys. You can ask him to do multiple things. Those guys are the heart and soul of your football team."
Q: Will he be in the backfield with Frank at times?
MM: "Sure. Absolutely. There's no question about it. We'll use them together - absolutely."
Q: Because they're both adept at catching passes out of the backfield?
MM: "No question. And defensively ... one can block for the other or use them both as receivers. There's all kinds of things that can happen out of that, you know?"
-- Matt Barrows