Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Sam Bradford, Alex Smith and coordinators
By Mike Sando
The San Francisco 49ers' changes at offensive coordinator have become an annual storyline.
The team has gone from Mike McCarthy to Norv Turner to Jim Hostler to Mike Martz to Jimmy Raye to Michael Johnson to Greg Roman since January 2006.
The effect on quarterback Alex Smith cannot be quantified, but that much change cannot be a good thing.
The St. Louis Rams almost certainly will not go through as many changes while bringing along their franchise quarterback, Sam Bradford. Still, the change from Pat Shurmur to Josh McDaniels after one season has raised concerns for the short term, particularly with McDaniels looking to re-emerge as a head-coaching candidate -- as was the case with Smith's second coordinator, Turner.
Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo isn't buying the idea that a transition from Shurmur to McDaniels during an NFL lockout will significantly hinder Bradford in 2011.
"This may be some na´ve thinking, but I coached two years in NFL Europe and we would go down to Florida with 60 guys, and in three-and-a-half weeks, you cut down to 35 and you play a 10-game season," Spagnuolo said from the NFL owners meeting last week. "That part of it, I have been through it. I certainly don't think that is going to happen. There is a confidence on that side of the ball in our building that if you are smart about how you implement it, go at the pace the players absorb it, I think we'll be fine. It still comes back to throwing it, catching it, running it, tackling."
The Rams' confidence in Bradford lets them feel that way. The coordinator change and ongoing lockout would affect a lesser quarterback to a greater degree.
Injuries prevented Bradford from working extensively with some of his receivers last season. The Rams can feel good about how quickly Bradford developed a rapport with Mark Clayton, even though Bradford was a rookie and Clayton had not run the Rams' offense.
The 49ers' Smith, despite not meeting expectations, improved dramatically in his second season following a coordinator change. He went from tossing one touchdown pass with 11 interceptions as a rookie to finishing his second season with 16 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Bradford finished his rookie season with 18 touchdowns, 15 interceptions and 3,512 yards.