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Sunday, October 18, 2009
49ers fans not forgotten during bye week

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

So far this season, the 49ers have called pass plays 88.5 percent of the time when they put three wide receivers on the field.

They have run the ball 12 times in 78 plays with three wide receivers. Three of the 12 runs were quarterback scrambles. Three more were in third-down situations with at least 5 yards needed for a first down.

This makes the 49ers relatively predictable from three-receiver personnel (Seattle has run 70.6 percent of the time with three receivers, compared to 77.2 percent for Arizona and 68 percent for St. Louis).

Predictable is OK as long as the production is there.

However, the 49ers' three-receiver offense has produced one touchdown, two interceptions and eight sacks this season.

That is horrible.

It's easy to criticize. What's the solution?

The 49ers need to expand receiver Brandon Jones' role now that he is healthier. The 49ers need to work Michael Crabtree into the offense incrementally. After cuing up their 45-10 defeat to the Falcons again Saturday night -- what social life? -- it's also clear the 49ers need a better plan against five-man pressure.

Against the Falcons, the 49ers' version of a hot read consisted of quarterback Shaun Hill whizzing the ball past Vernon Davis' unsuspecting head while the tight end ran downfield without turning back to consider the fate of his soon-to-be-crunched teammate. These are hallmarks of a remedial pass offense.

Getting Frank Gore back will also help. I have to give the 49ers credit for not making excuses while Gore was away. They built their offense around him. Coordinator Jimmy Raye called Gore the most important player on the offense. Raye did not envision an expanded role for rookie Glen Coffee this season.

Yet, with Gore sidelined since early in the Week 3 game at Minnesota, the 49ers haven't made excuses.

I'll be heading to Houston for their Week 7 game against the Texans. In the meantime, I've made available for download a 49ers production report by personnel group and situation. Quarterback scrambles do not count as rushing attempts for my charting purposes. I also lumped in Wildcat personnel with regular personnel (two backs, one tight end) for the sake of expediency, given that there were only a couple such plays.
49ers Personnel Production Through Week 5
Carries Yards Per Carry Pass Attempts Yards Per Attempt TD
2RB-1TE 45 6.0 36 6.1 4
1RB-1TE 9 2.0 58 7.2 1
1RB-2TE 24 1.8 37 5.4 1
2RB-2TE 40 3.3 12 5.8 2
3TE 2 0.5 2 0.0 1
4WR 0 0.0 0 0.0 0
Totals 120 3.9 145 6.3 9