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Sopoaga at quarterback? There's an idea

11/4/2011

Sopoaga in the shotgun ... rolls to his right ... looking, looking ... he's got a man ... Staley makes the grab and tip-toes along the sideline for a 49ers first down ...

One of my San Francisco 49ers-loving Facebook friends wants to see nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga go from catching passes -- OK, only one pass so far -- to attempting them.

"What would you say are the odds?" she asked, leading me to top this item with a fictional 49ers play-by-play call exploring the once-absurd possibilities.

The odds are a lot higher for the 49ers than for some teams, based on the wrinkles we've seen from the offense this season. The receptions Sopoaga and left tackle Joe Staley made for the 49ers against Cleveland totaled 35 yards while shining light on the voluminous personnel combinations the team used Sunday.

In seeking perspective for an earlier item on the subject, I'll pass along a chart showing context for the 49ers' offensive diversity against Cleveland in Week 8.

The team used 33 combinations of wide receivers, running backs and tight ends, as Matt Maiocco first noted. That figure was a season high for the 49ers, who had used 23 combinations against Seattle in Week 1 and against Philadelphia in Week 4, according to Hank Gargiulo of ESPN Stats & Information. The 49ers used a season-low 14 combinations against Dallas in Week 2 and still led by double digits in the fourth quarter before losing in overtime.

The chart shows opponents, total plays and results for the teams using the most combinations in a game this season. The 49ers' use of 33 such combinations tied for ninth-most by an NFL team this season. The teams listed in the chart have a 10-2 record. Offensive diversity could account for some of the success, but in some cases, teams with high numbers of combinations ran lots of plays, itself a product/reflection of success.

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