San Francisco 49ers: Greg Roman

A major topic for the San Francisco 49ers this offseason has been the team's plans to attempt to pass more in 2014.

They certainly have reason for trying to reach that goal. The 49ers have the best passing game weaponry since head coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman joined the franchise in 2011.

The difference this year is that the 49ers are expected to have a healthy Michael Crabtree from the start of the season and they traded for the reliable Stevie Johnson.

The task for the team is to pass more and spread the ball around more often than they did the first three seasons under Harbaugh. This is the breakdown of the top three receivers for the 49ers in the past three seasons:

2013: Anquan Boldin 85 catches, Vernon Davis 52, Bruce Miller 25.

2012: Crabtree 85, Mario Manningham 42, Davis 41.

2011: Crabtree 72, Davis 67, Kyle Williams 20.

This is Johnson’s catch output in Buffalo in the past three seasons:

2013: 52 (second on team).

2012: 79 (first)

2011: 76 (first)

Johnson will likely be the fourth option for quarterback Colin Kaepernick behind Crabtree, Boldin and Davis (if he ends his holdout). Is that a problem? I think the 49ers, who rely on the run, will find a way to spread the ball around.

Someone should always be open. I think it’s natural to think the 49ers’ passing numbers will increase, although the end result may be that all the top options catch 50-70 passes instead of the major disparity seen during the first three years of the Harbaugh era.

Rookie QB intriguing to 49ers

June, 17, 2014
Jun 17
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SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Kory Faulkner very likely will not be any factor for the 2014 San Francisco 49ers.

But the undrafted rookie quarterback out of Southern Illinois was a topic Tuesday when the 49ers started minicamp. Quarterbacks coach Greg Roman had words about Faulkner that are rarely spoken of a player of his stature in June.

“He’s the kind of guy that at some point in his career you can probably turn the keys over to him,” Roman said. “And that’s a long ways off, but he definitely does some things that we like.”

Of course, Roman did not say he thinks Faulkner will become the 49ers' starting quarterback. But to talk about an undrafted rookie in those terms is pretty interesting.

The 49ers signed Faulkner after he worked out with coach Jim Harbaugh in the pre-draft season. Harbaugh liked what he saw. Faulkner was enthralled by Harbaugh.

“He’s one of the coolest guys I ever met,” Faulkner said Tuesday.

Faulkner was so taken by Harbaugh he said he pretty much made up his mind prior to the draft that he’d sign with the 49ers if offered. Roman made a point of saying the quarterback had his work cut out for him in college.

“He had no offensive line in college, no offense to those players, but he can throw under duress let me tell you that,” Roman said. “The first play here, I think we had really good protection and we said to him, ‘What’d you think of that? That was pretty neat, wasn’t it? You haven’t had that in a while.’ But, he had a big smile on his face. But, yeah he had to operate under duress. His first read in college was avoid the free rusher and then go from there.”
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Prior to the San Francisco 49ers' first mandatory minicamp practice, offensive coordinator Greg Roman said he was looking for sharp workouts.

The 49ers didn't exactly deliver.

There were plenty of drops in a mostly mundane workout. However, I wouldn't exactly say it's cause for alarm. It's June and a lot of players were held out or limited. This is not high-intensity times.

It's a time to continue to work on rhythm before the team takes a month break before starting training camp.

The 49ers worked a lot of red zone offense Tuesday. They often stalled in the red zone last season, settling for field goals.

Roman said Tuesday he hopes to see an evolved offense in 2014. With a more experienced Colin Kaepernick, deeper receiving core and rookie running back Carlos Hyde, Roman likes the potential changes.

"I think it's fair to make the statement that it's a different offense, 2014. Because we've got some new guys in," Roman said. "I think it's definitely evolved from (from when he arrived to San Francisco with coach Jim Harbaugh in 2011) and it'll probably change a little bit this year."

In other camp notes:
  • Hyde and rookie receiver Bruce Ellington each had their moments Tuesday. Roman praised Hyde for his football knowledge. "Carlos, since he got here from the draft, really impressed me as a guy that football just makes sense to him," Roman said. "If you could just tell him what to do, and you don't have to tell him too much. And that's a beautiful thing in a running back because they have a lot of adjustments to make and protection, etc."
  • Several veterans such as running back Frank Gore and Justin Smith sat out practices as they did in the voluntary practices. It's just saving older players wear-and-tear. Receivers Michael Crabtree and Stevie Johnson didn't work in team drills as the team is being cautious.
  • Receiver Brandon Lloyd continued to make some nice catches as he continues to make a push to make the 53-man roster.
  • Roman was complimentary of young tight ends Vance McDonald and Derek Carrier as they get time with Vernon Davis holding out. McDonald is set to get the most time if Davis stays away. The 2013 second-round pick had some drops Tuesday, which was a problem in his rookie season.
  • Fifth-round pick Aaron Lynch, who will be a pass-rusher, didn't practice because of a hamstring injury. Seventh-round pick Kaleb Ramsey at defensive tackle looked solid. He will be interesting to watch in training camp and in the preseason.
  • Harbaugh maintained that he thinks Gore can play three more years. He is 31 and entering the final year of his contract.
  • Blaine Gabbert has the edge to be to Kaepernick's backup. Harbaugh heaped praise on him. "Very impressed with Blaine mentally, physically -- all attributes that you'd like to see in a quarterback. He's been very good, very solid. (He's) picked up everything very quickly. It's going well. Everything is progressing well. I think you'll watch it when you have a chance to see it today and look at it for yourself. In my eye, it looks very good."
  • Harbaugh said he is optimistic right tackle Anthony Davis will be ready for the start of training camp. He had shoulder surgery in April.
  • Running back Marcus Lattimore looked good and he is working full-go. He missed all of last season as he recovered from a torn ACL he suffered at South Carolina in 2012.
  • In a hint third-round pick Marcus Martin could push Daniel Kilgore for the starting center job, Roman heaped high praise on the rookie. "I think Marcus has done a really good job coming in as a rookie. The center position, there's so much that a center has to do in this league week-to-week," Roman said. "There's just so many different adjustments and whatnot. He's done a really good job so far against our defense, not only physically, but mentally as well."
  • Roman said he is happy with the play of Joe Looney at right guard. He is working with the starters with Alex Boone holding out.
Weekend mail call:

Isaac from Salinas, Calif., wants to know if I think the 49ers could try to replace Jim Harbaugh with Jon Gruden or Bill Cowher in 2015.

Bill Williamson: I really doubt it. If the Harbaugh situation blows up after this season, I would think the 49ers would first look at an existing assistant such as offensive coordinator Greg Roman, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio or defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. I wouldn’t think a big-name, out-of-work coach is where the 49ers would first look if somehow Harbaugh is not in the picture.

James from New York wants to know what I think the difference between A.J. Jenkins and Brandin Cooks.

BW: It’s an interesting question and I don’t know if there is a simple question. Cooks is smaller and faster than Jenkins, who the 49ers took with the No. 30 pick in 2012 and they ended up trading him to Kansas City last summer. I understand the question. But I don’t know if it’s a comparison. What I think you want to know is how can we be sure Cooks, who the 49ers could target with the No. 30 pick in the draft, isn’t another highly rated college receiver who can’t translate his game to the NFL. There is no answer to that yet. We have to see what he can do. Receiver is often a boon-or-bust position. So it is up to the 49ers to make a decision on if they feel they can make Cooks a productive NFL player or not.

Kenneth from Visalia, Calif., wants to know if I think the 49ers could sign Terrell Owens or Chad Johnson.

BW: I know the 49ers have brought in aging stars before. But the ship has sailed on these guys. It’s over, folks.
Jim HarbaughChristian Petersen/Getty ImagesJim Harbaugh has reached the NFC title game in each of his three seasons, so why would the 49ers look elsewhere?

Coach Jim Harbaugh's situation in San Francisco has been one of the most talked-about stories in the league in recent weeks.

If a resolution on his contract isn't reached, it will likely hover over the franchise all season and would be a major story next January, when Harbaugh could leave the team, although Harbaugh told Sports Illustrated this week he is happy with all aspects of his job and doesn’t see any way he will leave the team before the end of his contract. Still, getting the contract done would ease a lot of issues.

We all know the backdrop: Harbaugh has led the 49ers to the NFC title game in all three of his seasons as coach. He got them to the Super Bowl after the 2012 season. He is entering the fourth year of a five-year contract that pays him $5 million per year. Harbaugh and the 49ers have been in discussion about a new deal for about a year, but are not close to an extension. Team owner Jed York recently told the Sacramento Bee he thinks contract talks will resume after the NFL draft in early May.

Things got interesting when the Cleveland Browns pursued a trade for Harbaugh. The 49ers were not interested, but that could change next year.

There have been rampant reports that Harbaugh has had trouble with some in the 49ers' front office, including general manager Trent Baalke. York, Harbaugh and Baalke have long downplayed the friction, indicating that they can coexist.

However, there is enough smoke here to think this situation go could south if a contract isn't agreed upon this year. Let's look at some issues that may be part of this story as it further develops:

The history: While it would be stunning to see the 49ers-Harbaugh marriage disintegrate after such a stellar start, similar breakups have happened before.

[+] EnlargeJimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones
AP Photo/Ron HeflinJim Harbaugh would not be the first successful coach to leave during a team's prime. Jimmy Johnson left the Cowboys after winning two Super Bowls because of fighting with owner Jerry Jones.
After winning two straight Super Bowls, Jimmy Johnson famously left the Cowboys in 1994 after fighting with owner Jerry Jones. Following the 1998 season, Mike Holmgren shocked the NFL when he left quarterback Brett Favre and a Green Bay Packers team in its prime after a seven-year run that included a Super Bowl win. Holmgren left for more power and much more money in Seattle. In 2002, the Raiders traded coach Jon Gruden to Tampa Bay for a massive amount of draft picks. The Raiders were burned as Gruden led the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl win against Oakland in his first season. In 2007, the Chargers sided with general manager A.J. Smith in his feud with coach Marty Schottenheimer even though the Chargers went 14-2 the season before.

If Harbaugh leaves the 49ers, it wouldn't be the first time a coach and team split despite success.

The highest-paid coaches: Harbaugh told Sports Illustrated he is not unhappy with his pay, but the man is underpaid considering his massive NFL success. Nine of the 32 NFL coaches in 2013 made at least $7 million. Only five of them had won a Super Bowl.

I'd think it has to bother Harbaugh that Chip Kelly earned $6.5 million in his first NFL season and NFC West rival Jeff Fisher made $7 million in St. Louis. Coaches' salaries are at a premium and, by NFL standards, Harbaugh is underpaid.

The best coaches without power: He is hypercompetitive and likes to be in control. So, Harbaugh probably isn't always thrilled to defer personnel decisions to Baalke. But I don't sense Harbaugh wanting to be the general manager and making every decision as he said. He is a coach.

I don't see this as a deal-breaker.

There are plenty of great NFL coaches who don't have total power, including Harbaugh's brother, John, in Baltimore. There's also Mike McCarthy in Green Bay, Mike Tomlin in Pittsburgh and Pete Carroll in Seattle. So, a lack of total power in the NFL really isn't a big deal anymore for coaches.

[+] EnlargeDavid Shaw
AP Photo/Matt YorkWould Stanford coach David Shaw be a candidate to follow Jim Harbaugh again?
Where could Harbaugh land? Harbaugh's situation could cause teams to adjust their plans late in the season. I could see many owners prematurely firing a coach to get a shot at Harbaugh if he goes into January unsigned.

But right now, the list of teams that may be making a change next year and may make sense for Harbaugh isn't very long.

Miami and Dallas would be among the biggest suitors. Miami tried to hire Harbaugh before he went to San Francisco. The team has deep pockets, a need for good public relations, and the Dolphins have a good young quarterback in Ryan Tannehill. Dallas has big bucks and Tony Romo. Harbaugh could like both places.

Other possibilities could include both New York teams and Atlanta (coaching Matt Ryan would surely be intriguing). A potential long shot could be Oakland. Harbaugh was an assistant in Oakland and he could stay in the Bay Area. But the Raiders have to find a quarterback and ownership would have to be willing to shell out financially to make it work. Plus, the 49ers would need to get a haul from the Raiders to trade him to their Bay Area rival.

If I had to give odds on the early favorite, I'd look toward Miami.

Who could replace Harbaugh? It's only logical to think that San Francisco ownership, in the back of its mind, is thinking post-Harbaugh just in case.

The chance of getting draft picks for a coach the 49ers can't come to an agreement with could interest the team next offseason. Also, the idea of front-office peace could be at the forefront as well, especially if things go haywire the rest of this year.

The first place the 49ers would likely look to replace Harbaugh is on the current staff. Because the team has been so successful, I could see the 49ers having interest in staying close to home. Offensive and defensive coordinators Greg Roman and Vic Fangio, respectively, would likely be on the 49ers' list. Defensive line coach Jim Tomsula is a favorite of the front office. He was a candidate when Harbaugh was hired and his players love him.

Here's another name the 49ers could look at -- David Shaw. He replaced Harbaugh at Stanford. I'm sure he wouldn't be afraid to do it again.

Shaw has been steadfast in his desire to stay at Stanford. But if he were ever to leave for the NFL, this would likely be an appealing situation. He and his family could stay in their house and he'd go to a near perfect NFL situation with a franchise quarterback in Colin Kaepernick.

There is plenty to unfold in this situation in the next several months. Harbaugh and the 49ers could end it all by coming to a contract extension. But as we have realized early this offseason, it's not that simple.
The NFL head-coaching hiring season is over. The Cleveland Browns were the last team to make a hire when they chose Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.

The Browns did some investigating of San Francisco 49ers assistants as did some other teams. But in the end, Jim Harbaugh’s staff will remain, virtually the same. Here is a look at some 49ers’ assistants who could get interest in 2015:

Offensive coordinator Greg Roman: He interviewed in Minnesota and at Penn State this month. If the 49ers have another strong season in 2014, I can see Roman being a hot candidate.

Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio: It was reported Washington asked permission to talk to Fangio, but it never interviewed him. Fangio is a fantastic defensive coordinator. He is smart and timely, and he interacts well with his players. He deserves more interest.

Defensive line coach Jim Tomsula: He is a wild card. Tomsula hasn’t been a defensive coordinator in the NFL, but he is well respected. Minnesota interviewed him, and the Browns considered interviewing him. His name will likely be hot next year.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. --There is still a chance a San Francisco 49ers’ assistant coach will get a head-coaching job this offseason.

The only job available is the Cleveland Browns’ job. The Browns’ search is wide open. ESPN.com reported Monday the Browns did some background work on San Francisco defensive line coach Jim Tomsula and they had some interest.

Tuesday, 49ers’ coach Jim Harbaugh confirmed he has talked to the Browns about some of his assistants. He declined to specify who.

“There’s possibilities,” Harbaugh said. “Going into further detail doesn’t help our situation or their situation. Their search is their search.”

In addition to Tomsula, offensive coordinator Greg Roman and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio have received some interest for head-coaching jobs this year. Roman and Tomsula interviewed for the Minnesota job earlier this month.

Two 49ers assistants already have accepted positions back in the college ranks: Tim Drevno (USC offensive line coach) and Paul Wulff (University of South Florida offensive coordinator). Harbaugh said he looks forward to finding their replacements.

As for his own contract, Harbaugh declined to talk about it. Harbaugh has two more years on his original five-year, $25 million deal. He is expected to get a new deal this offseason that makes him one of the highest paid coaches in the NFL.
SEATTLE -- Now that the San Francisco 49ers' season is over, after a 23-17 loss to Seattle in the NFC title game, here are some topics at the top of my mind:

Kaepernick is going to get paid: 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has done enough to get paid among the league’s highest-paid quarterbacks. There was question about that early in the season. But there shouldn’t be. Kaepernick has led the 49ers to one Super Bowl appearance and two NFC title games in less than two full seasons as a starter. He is a dynamic player who is not in his prime. He will get paid accordingly.

Feel terrible for Bowman: The 49ers’ best player this season was inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman. He is a candidate for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award. He had another brilliant game Sunday before he suffered a horrific knee injury. Coach Jim Harbaugh said early indications are Bowman tore his ACL. Bowman is just 25 and players routinely come back from ACL injuries. He will be fine, but it's such a shame that his wonderful season had to end this way.

Rivalry has reached next level: Is there any doubt the Seahawks-49ers rivalry is the best in the NFL? I’m already looking forward to the next edition. If the Seahawks win the Super Bowl, I could easily see the 49ers visiting Seattle in Week 1. There will be plenty of storylines in the rivalry next season, beginning, of course, with the Richard Sherman-Michael Crabtree saga.

Cleveland calling? There is one NFL head-coaching job available -- the Cleveland Browns job. I wouldn’t be surprised if 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman emerges as a candidate. Washington and Minnesota were interested in Roman earlier this season. If Roman doesn’t get involved in Cleveland, expect him to be one of the hottest assistant coaches next January.
There is one head coaching vacancy in the NFL -- the Cleveland Browns'.

If the Browns do not hire a San Francisco assistant (the job appears to be wide open but no 49ers' assistants have been connected to the job as of yet), that means Jim Harbaugh's key assistants will return for the 2014 season. Earlier this month, Harbaugh said he thought at least one assistant would get an NFL head coaching job.

Offensive coordinator Greg Roman and defensive line coach Jim Tomsula interviewed with Minnesota. Roman and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio were on the Redskins' interview list initially.

Harbaugh said Friday "it was hard to believe" none of his coaches have gotten job. He said many of his assistants are better coaches than he is.

"It will happen," Harbaugh said. "There will be a smart club."
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers' offense has taken it to the next level in the six games since star receiver Michael Crabtree has returned from a torn Achilles injury in May.

Before Crabtree's return, the 49ers' offense lacked dimension and spark. Now, it is a varied, dangerous offense. His return is a major reason why the 49ers are preparing to play in the NFC championship at Seattle on Sunday.

Crabtree
Crabtree's coaches are not taking his return for granted. They know how much personal sacrifice Crabtree went through to get back this season. 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh marveled Thursday at what Crabtree accomplished. He called Crabtree's work to return "rare."

"First, on a personal level, that he was able to go through the grueling rehab and having to sit out for healing purposes, and then when he came back, you could just see at every juncture he was hitting right down the middle of the strike zone in terms of his healing," Harbaugh said. "And you just watched the mental toughness, the physical toughness over that six-month period. And then when he got back on the field, then even a, ‘Wow, this is really going to be good for us.' And just thankful to him. Thankful that he went through the grueling rehab … what kind of human being is able to do that. It's so rare. I can't even compare it to anything else that I've ever seen. It's that rare. Very thankful that he's good and did what he did to get back and help his team."

San Francisco offensive coordinator Greg Roman admitted Thursday there were times when he wondered if Crabtree would miss the entire season.

"Oh, no question. I think Mike is one of the tougher guys you'll find at the receiver position and again he doesn't walk around and talk about it, he just does it," Roman said. "The way he approached his rehab was nothing short of exemplary. Yes, we were hoping that he'd be available at the end of this year. But I'll be honest with you, I had my doubts until I saw him pushing a sled about a month and a half ago out here, I realized it was reality."

Did Crabtree share his coaches' concerns that the offseason injury could have shelved him until next season?

"Not at all. Not at all," Crabtree said. "As soon as I got hurt I asked the doctor how long it was going to take. He told me about five months. I didn't want to tell anybody the dates. I just kept working hard, day by day and we are here now."

Here they are. Preparing for an NFC title game the 49ers know they likely wouldn't be in without Crabtree on the field.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- If a San Francisco 49ers assistant coach is going to be become a head coach this year it is going to be in Cleveland.

ESPN is reporting Minnesota is hiring Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer as head coach. 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman and defensive line coach Jim Tomsula interviewed with the Vikings on Saturday. Neither coach has been connected to Cleveland. However, the Browns are not far along in their search and things could change.

Still, not all is lost if the coaches have to return next year. Roman will likely be a top candidate next year and have his choice of jobs. More success this year and interviewing experience will only make him more attractive next year.

Tomsula received great experience from the Minnesota interview, which is rare for a position coach. This will make him more attractive in the near future as well.
The San Francisco 49ers' postseason success may be costing their assistant coaches a chance for upward mobility again.

There are now only two of the original seven head-coaching jobs open in the league -- Minnesota and Cleveland.

49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman and defensive line coach Jim Tomsula interviewed for the Vikings opening Saturday. No 49ers coaches have yet been connected to the Browns' opening.

The Vikings have begun the second round of interviews. A source close to Tomsula said he enjoyed the meeting with the Vikings, but a second interview has not been set up thus far.

The 49ers are preparing to play Seattle in the NFC title game Sunday. If they go to the Super Bowl, it would decrease chances of their assistants getting a job because the Vikings and Browns will likely want to move quickly. The same issue occurred last year when the 49ers played in the Super Bowl.

In other 49ers notes:

A look at the 49ers-Seahawks' West Coast ... defense.

In an Insider piece, Mike Sando thinks receiver Anquan Boldin and safety Donte Whitner are free agents who should be re-signed.
Here’s an interesting nugget from ESPN’s Adam Schefter:

By now, everyone knows Washington hired former Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden as its head coach on Thursday. It happened to be on the same day that the Redskins had scheduled interviews in San Francisco with 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

What bothered the 49ers most was that the Redskins didn't cancel the interviews before news broke of Gruden's hiring.

It's part of the business, teams hiring coaches before others can interview. But San Francisco's coaches were angry that, in a week in which they are preparing for their biggest game of the season against the Panthers, they wound up devoting some of their time to head-coaching interviews that they were not told would not take place.

Washington was pleased with its selection of Gruden as head coach, but 49ers coaches weren't.

Update: Redskins spokesman Tony Wyllie said no interview was ever scheduled with either San Francisco coordinator.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Greg Roman’s chances for a head coaching job are not dead.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Minnesota Vikings are planning on interviewing the San Francisco 49ers’ offensive coordinator Saturday in Charlotte. The 49ers arrived Friday night for their divisional playoff game against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

This will be Roman’s first NFL head coaching interview. He interviewed at Penn State on Monday. That job went to Vanderbilt’s James Franklin. The Redskins were also interested in Roman, but an interview never materialized.

The Vikings also have interest in 49ers defensive line coach Jim Tomsula, and he could get an interview as well.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Carlos Rogers is missing practice for the fifth straight practice with a hamstring injury.

Rogers
The San Francisco 49ers cornerback said Thursday that he hopes to play Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. However, he must practice if he is going to play. San Francisco defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said he doesn’t expect Rogers to play against the Panthers if he doesn’t practice. That means Rogers must practice Friday before the 49ers fly to North Carolina.

Rogers has been running this week.

“I have to be smart,” he said. “I don’t know if I will be ready, but I am trying.”

All indications are that if Rogers can’t play, Perrish Cox will be the nickel cornerback. He played virtually the entire game at Green Bay over veteran Eric Wright. Fangio said the team went with Cox, who was signed earlier in the week, because he had a better week of practice than Wright.

Rotational defensive tackle DeMarcus Dobbs (knee) returned to practice after missing Wednesday’s session.

In other 49ers notes:

Fangio said he has had no contact with any teams about a head-coaching job. ESPN reported that the Redskins were interested in him. However, they hired Jay Gruden on Thursday.

Offensive coordinator Greg Roman called talk that he interviewed for the Penn State job “speculation.” The school reportedly will hire Vanderbilt coach James Franklin. Roman’s name has also been attached to the open Minnesota Vikings job.

In an Insider piece, Matt Williamson thinks 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick could be a weak link at Carolina. He certainly was the last time these two teams played. But will it happen again?

ESPN Stats & Information has a matchup to watch in the game.

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