49ers ready to test streamlined offense in first dress rehearsal

49ers ready to test streamlined offense in first dress rehearsal
August 7, 2014, 7:30 am
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John Harbaugh has got the better of younger brother Jim in each of their two NFL matchups. (USATSI)

BALTIMORE -- The last time the 49ers were on the same field as the Baltimore Ravens, the stakes were, um, slightly greater.

The 49ers were five yards from taking a late-game lead in Super Bowl XLVII.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick surveyed the Ravens’ defense. He made adjustments at the line of scrimmage. Players shifted into different alignments.

By the time everything was set to go, the play clock was nearing zero. Coach Jim Harbaugh called a timeout to avoid a delay-of-game penalty. Kaepernick’s power run play over the left side -- a play that likely would have concluded in the end zone -- never happened.

The 49ers open the exhibition season Thursday night at the Ravens in their first dress rehearsal after an offseason of tinkering. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman and his staff made a lot of adjustments over the past few months to clean up the terminology and streamline the process of naming and calling plays.

“I think everyone just being on the same page,” Kaepernick said. “We’ve simplified some things. Made it easier for us to get in and out of plays. And I think that’s helped us a lot so far.”

Over the past three seasons, the 49ers have experienced problems getting to the line of scrimmage and getting a play snapped on time. Many of the problems stem from the checklist the quarterback must go through. Kaepernick is entrusted with making the decision of which of the two or more plays he receives from the sideline to use after reading the defense.

“It was time to clean out the garage,” Roman said. “Really (we) just tried to streamline things.”

Roman said the goal is to simplify the complexities that have been the root of the 49ers’ issues with the play clock. He said the main changes have been tightening up the vocabulary of the playbook.

“May be ways to better explain things,” he said. “When something hits somebody’s brain, maybe it hits it a little cleaner. There’s less gray area involved in certain things. And, obviously, not everything gets adjusted, but you do your best to do it. You’re always trying to make it better.”