49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

November 5, 2009
Raye willing to change offense ... slowly

Asked whether the 49ers' offense is running after seven games like he envisioned it would, Jimmy Raye today said "yes and no." The running game, due in large part to injuries, has been inconsistent, he said. But the addition of some new players to the passing game - Alex Smith and Michael Crabtree - have made that facet of the offense better than expected. Reading that, you might assume that the 49ers would start opening up their passing attack even more down the home stretch. While Raye conceded that could happen, he said it would have to happen slowly given that the 49ers built themselves in the offseason as a power-running team.

"No. Not at all," Raye said when asked if the team was suited for a spread attack. " ... If that was in fact true and we were going to take this deal and flip it 360 (he means 180) and all of the sudden become a shotgun, wide-open, throw the ball 48 or 52 times a game, then we have to do an awful lot of changing. We can mix that, which we have done and intend to do. But as a steady diet of that ... Right now I don't delight in that prospect. Going forward, if it manifests itself into something that will help us, we will gravitate toward that. But as of now, the answer to that question would be, no."

On the progress of his running game:
"It's coming along. But as we start to make progress then we get another hiccup. And there's no way to anticipate or expect on the first play of the game you lose you're starting left tackle. So the continuity has been slow. But we're managing. It's slowly getting better. Because if we can get the guy we've got (Frank Gore) to the second level, we can go home with the ball. It's encouraging. It hasn't been as fast as we would like, but it's getting better."

On working a deep threat like Brandon Jones into the offense:
"Brandon is in the group of guys from a perimeter standpoint that we would like to get snaps to. And as we go forward with the four or five guys that we have, if he brings an added dimension that will help us ... then he would be considered in the mix, yes."

On whether it's easier to run out of a no-fullback, spread formation:
"It does unlock the box in some cases. But there are not many defensive coaches that we face that if we eliminate the lead blocker - where we have seven (blockers) they have eight (defenders) - so if we go to six, they have seven. So you still have the same problem. They're not going to let you outnumber them in the box ... The numbers are the same except you don't have a lead blocker."

On whether the addition of Smith and Crabtree might nudge the 49ers to become more of a passing team.
"Yes, we would think of that a little more. It's difficult because we're still, in certain things, trying to get No. 15 to line up in the right place. There are more elements to it than just the physical body of the people we have. So there's a lot of things that go into that before we say we're going to switch gears and go in another direction. We can gravitate toward that and make due because of what we see out of his natural ability, but the nuances and the fine-tuning still takes some time. And then the exposure of the offensive line . . . "

-- Matt Barrows

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Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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