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Sunday, September 13, 2009
Raye's fingerprints all over 49ers offense

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com


Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The 49ers' dramatic offensive makeover under coordinator Jimmy Raye hit me hardest Sunday on a third-and-5 play in the second quarter.

Teams generally use three or more wide receivers in that situation. The 49ers went with two running backs, two tight ends and only one wide receiver. Shaun Hill passed to Frank Gore for a 7-yard gain. Unconventional, yes, but totally consistent with the 49ers' new identity.

Charting offensive personnel use for the 49ers was easy Sunday.

I never saw them use more than two wide receivers on first down, a remarkable departure from the approach former coordinator Mike Martz used last season. I saw the 49ers use three wide receivers once on second down, but two or fewer the rest of the time. They never used four wide receivers.

The 49ers were without prominent receivers Michael Crabtree and Brandon Jones. They kept four receivers active and one of them, Micheal Spurlock, lacked experience. Their tight ends, Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker, run well enough to function as wide receivers, but they are still tight ends.

San Francisco kept trying to run the ball even though Gore never got going. The 49ers' longest run covered 6 yards. They rushed 25 times for 21 yards. They'll need to become more productive on the ground, no question, and they will as long as they stick with it.

Based on what we saw Sunday, it's hard to envision them doing anything else.