Maiocco: Stanford playbook gets facelift for 49ers

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Maiocco: Stanford playbook gets facelift for 49ers

May 20, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE49ERS PAGE 49ERS VIDEOMatt MaioccoCSNBayArea.comSeveral 49ers offensive players entered the team's Santa Clara practice facility on April 29 to meet with coaches during the brief time the NFL lockout was lifted.Those players exited with the blueprint for the upcoming season.New 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh brought offensive coordinator Greg Roman with him from Stanford. But they could not bring the same playbook they authored for the college game.While similar to the offensive system installed at Stanford, the 49ers' playbook has many fundamental differences."It probably took two months to put together the nuts and bolts, but we're always working on it," Roman told CSN Bay Area on Thursday in a phone interview. "We just tweaked some of it this morning."
Roman said the way the team lines up in the huddle is identical. Each position has a designated spot in the oval shaped formation, as the quarterback relays the assignments for the next play.
Other than that, Roman says, "Nothing is exactly the same."Of course, there are many similarities. The language is still Bill Walsh's West Coast system, but the previous playbook had a dialect uniquely tailored for college football.The biggest changes to the 49ers' playbook takes into account the fundamental differences between professional and college football. The hashmarks are closer together in the NFL, which means the starting point for every play is confined to the center of the field.The width of NFL hashmarks is 18 feet, 6 inches. In college, the hashmarks are 40 feet wide. There can be a lot more unbalanced formations in college, Roman said, as well as major considerations on how to utilize the varying space toward the sideline on both side of the football.This difference in where the play can begin has a huge impact because of the spacing on the field. Also, there were necessary adjustments that had to be made in merely describing where the wide receivers line up."The splits are complete different," Roman said. "And how you denote it is different. Lining up 3 yards from the numbers is different in the NFL. In the NFL, the numbers are 12-to-14 yards from the sideline. In college, the numbers are closer to the sideline. The landmarks and the spacing is complete different."In turn, the windows in which a quarterback is instructed to make his throws are shifted accordingly."The entire spacing of the field, the offensive and defensive players, is different," Roman said. "With a slant in college, there might be more space between the next inside defender."Also, "zone read plays" are a big part of any college offense, even the pro-style system employed at Stanford. Those run plays out of the shotgun, spread formation is something NFL teams use sparingly -- often as part of the "Wildcat" without a true quarterback taking the snap.General manager Trent Baalke suggested recently that the 49ers might add some "quarterback-driven runs" to the offense in the future with the addition of Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who rushed for 4,112 yards and 59 touchdowns in his college career.Kaepernick revealed the day the 49ers chose him in the second round that he spoke several times with Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck prior to the draft. Kaepernick suggested he was interested in meeting with Luck to learn more about the offensive system he will be entrusted to master.
"He'll be learning the playbook, but obviously, he won't be doing that with Andrew," said Scott Smith, Kaepernick's agent, mindful in the differences in the playbooks.
RELATED: Niners not worried about Kaepernick's procedureBut Kaepernick could derive some benefit from face-to-face sessions with Luck. There is some carry over with the terminology and some of the plays, Roman suggested. And there are close similarities in how the 49ers' quarterback will bark out the cadence at the line of scrimmage.However, there are many aspects of the 49ers' playbook that would be new concepts to players who suited up under Harbaugh and Roman at Stanford.VIDEO: Baalke on Niners' draftee KaepernickPerhaps the biggest assistance Luck could lend to Kaepernick would be macro, rather than micro. Nobody knows better than Luck the process and expectations that await Kaepernick with the 49ers' new coaching staff.

Harbaugh goes Biblical, responds to Jacobs' criticisms of his coaching

Harbaugh goes Biblical, responds to Jacobs' criticisms of his coaching

Former NFL running back Brandon Jacobs spent one season with the San Francisco 49ers in 2012 under head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Jacobs only played in two games and gained seven yards on five carries. The results were nothing like his 5,087 yards and 60 touchdowns over eight years with the Giants. 

Apparently being pushed to the bench as a 31-year-old veteran running back didn't sit well with Jacobs. 

“Going somewhere where they don’t have route conversions into certain coverages was just absurd,” Jacobs said Thursday on the Tiki and Tierney Show. “They’re just running routes in the defense, getting people killed. Size and strength is what they had, and that’s why they won.

"Let’s be real. They had great assistant coaches, but Jim didn’t know what he was doing. Jim had no idea. Jim is throwing slants into Cover-2 safeties, getting people hurt. That guy knew nothing, man."

On Saturday morning, Harbaugh responded to Jacobs with a tweet to him. 

Harbaugh went 44-19-1 in four seasons as the 49ers' head coach. He also added five playoff wins and a trip to the Super Bowl in the 2012-13 season, the one that Jacobs played for him.

Shanahan: Brooks earns place on 49ers' first-team defense

Shanahan: Brooks earns place on 49ers' first-team defense

SANTA CLARA – The eldest non-kicker on the 49ers’ roster is learning a new position this offseason.

But Ahmad Brooks has plenty of experience adapting to new positions during his 12-year NFL career. He has played inside linebacker, outside linebacker in a 3-4 and defensive end in pass-rush situations.

Now, Brooks has moved to the strong side linebacker position -- the “Sam” -- in the 49ers’ new 4-3 scheme under first-year defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

“He’s getting them (first-team repetitions) because he deserves them,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said this week. “Watching how he played last year and then going into this offseason, you never know when a guy who has been around a bunch, if they’re going to feel that they need the offseason like other people do. And Ahmad’s been here every day and he’s needed it just like everyone has anytime you’re learning a new scheme.

“But anytime you have a veteran like that, you worry that, hey, maybe they won’t think that they do need it. But Ahmad has and he’s been here. He’s worked at everything. He’s in good shape. He’s done what we’ve asked in the weight room with Ray and he’s done everything with the position coaches and coordinator on defense. So, I think he’s learning it and he should because he’s putting the work in.”

Brooks, 33, has entered the past three offseasons with his place on the 49ers seemingly in jeopardy. But the 49ers have not been able to find a younger, better player to replace him. Brooks has tied for the team-lead in sacks in each of the past four seasons with 27 sacks over that span.

Eli Harold, Dekoda Watson and undrafted rookie Jimmie Gilbert were the other players who lined up at the Sam position during the first week of 49ers organized team activities.

Brooks and Aaron Lynch, starters at outside linebacker for the 49ers in the previous systems, have the steepest learning curves in the transition to a new defense. Lynch has moved to the team’s pass-rush defensive end position, known as the “Leo.”

“I think techniques are totally different,” Shanahan said. “How you want to take on blocks, how you want to play the run. Ahmad has been around a little longer than Aaron. So he’s probably had a little bit more crossover, some similar schemes.”