Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Greg Roman's extension and 49ers' offense
By Mike Sando
The San Francisco 49ers' reported contract extension for offensive coordinator Greg Roman appears well earned.
Under Roman, who arrived with coach Jim Harbaugh before the 2011 season, the team has set franchise records for offense while setting an NFL standard for creativity within the running game especially.
Former quarterback Alex Smith set a single-game NFL record for completion percentage (minimum 15 attempts) by connecting on 18 of 19 passes against Arizona last season. The 49ers set a franchise record with 621 total yards against Buffalo, becoming the first team in NFL history to amass 300 yards passing and 300 yards rushing in the same game. Roman's 49ers also set a franchise playoff record with 579 yards against Green Bay last season.
San Francisco has also won with quarterbacks of vastly different styles and experience levels, realizing immediate gains under difficult circumstances, notably the labor lockout that inhibited preparation just as the Harbaugh era was beginning.
As the chart shows, the 49ers under Roman have made double-digit gains in key offensive categories relative to where the team stood over the previous two seasons. That includes jumping from 25th to third in rushing yards, 22nd to fourth in time of possession, 25th to ninth in Total QBR, 18th to fourth in NFL passer rating, 32nd to 19th in first downs, 21st to ninth in points per game and 13th to second in interception rate.
Oddly, the 49ers haven't improved much, if at all, in third-down conversion rate, red zone touchdown percentage or goal-to-go touchdown percentage. Lagging in these areas could reflect a play-it-safe philosophy for a team stronger on defense and in the running game than it often has been at quarterback.
Smith ranked 22nd in Total QBR (45.8) in 2011 before improving to seventh (70.1) last season. Colin Kaepernick was third at 76.8. Still, the 49ers ranked just 25th in third-down conversion rate and 21st in the red zone in 2012. The team will presumably realize gains in those areas if Kaepernick represents a significant upgrade over time.
Roman, meanwhile, has a deal through 2015. He'll presumably receive a raise, plus public affirmation of his standing after the team added Eric Mangini as senior offensive consultant. The contract would not prevent Roman from accepting a head-coaching job in the future, should he have the opportunity.