Roman learned from Ault, Kaepernick

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Roman learned from Ault, Kaepernick

SANTA CLARA -- Greg Roman learned the "pistol" offense from the master. And he studied by watching the college player who perfected it.

The 49ers' offensive coordinator, then an assistant at Stanford, sought to learn all he could about the system from Nevada coach Chris Ault, who developed the formation and basics in 2004.

"About three years ago, (I) made the trek to Nevada and visited with him and his staff," Roman said. "That was very valuable time spent. He was very accommodating and it was very interesting as a coach to go really learn something totally new. And he's a very good football coach. . . So it was good."

And the quarterback he watched on film was, obviously, Colin Kaepernick, the only NCAA Division I quarterback to throw for more than 10,000 yards and rush for over 4,000 yards in a collegiate career.

And what was Roman's impression of Kaepernick when he watched him on film with Ault?

"That's a long time ago," Roman said. "Productive."

The 49ers run a varied offensive attack because there are a lot of influences.

Roman, who spent time on George Seifert's coaching staff with the Carolina Panthers, learned much of what he knows about the West Coast Offense from Seifert and watching installation film of Bill Walsh. The 49ers run more split-back formations than other teams. That's an element he learned from Seifert and Walsh.

Last year, coach Jim Harbaugh said he learned the "fly sweep" from spending time with Pete Lavorato, head football coach at Sacred Heart Prep in Atherton. The 49ers found some success last season Ted Ginn going in motion and taking a handoff at near full speed.

Roman used the "pistol" a little at Stanford, but now he has the perfect quarterback to incorporate it into his play-calling. (The 49ers call it the "Q" formation because they try to keep their play calls to one syllable.)

The 49ers used formation in training camp. The offense has not changed, but certainly Roman's play-calling has been altered since the Kaepernick unseated Alex Smith as the starter.

And the pistol has become a larger part of the 49ers' attack.

In the pistol, Kaepernick lines up in the pistol (4 yards deep, rather than a typical shotgun formation of 5 yards behind the center) with a back directly behind him to add the threat of a power running game to the typical spread attack.

One of the basics is a variety of the veer in which the line blocks down to the side a run is going. That leaves the defensive end or outside linebacker on the other side unblocked. That is the player Kaepernick will watch to determine whether to hand off to the running back or keep it himself and attempt to beat the unblocked defender around the edge.

Last week, the 49ers featured a new wrinkle with a "full-house pistol," in which there were a combination of three backs and tight ends along with Kaepernick to create a completely balanced offensive approach. Coach Jim Harbaugh said it was a plan the club used to "balance off Miami's defense."

Of course there are many variations of bootlegs and play-action passes that the 49ers can execute out of the basic pistol formation.

And Roman spent his time with Ault to get a handle on all the variables and adjustments, based on how the defense adapts. So what did Roman learn from Ault that he could not have picked up just from watching film?

"I think you can gain a lot if they're willing to tell you," Roman said. "You can gain a lot with an upside, the downside, what other teams do to try to stop it. When they do that, what do you do? Every little nuance. It's just so much in terms of how you might sequence things, the downside, the upside. And definitely what people have tried to do to combat it or defend it, and then the next logical step for them. So, (it was) great information."

Nevada, the inspiration for the 49ers' pistol offense, will conclude its season Saturday at 10 a.m. (ESPN) in the New Mexico Bowl against Arizona.

Jim Harbaugh: I deserve a medal for lasting so long under 49ers ownership

Jim Harbaugh: I deserve a medal for lasting so long under 49ers ownership

In Kyle Shanahan’s first breath after being introduced as 49ers head coach on Feb. 9, he mentioned Jim Harbaugh, along with Bill Walsh, George Seifert and Steve Mariucci.

The head coach of Michigan was listening, and he appreciated the gesture.

“It was very flattering that he said nice things about us at his news conference, and I appreciated that,” Harbaugh said on "The TK Show," a podcast from Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group.

“Now, I don’t think I was there long enough to be compared with Bill Walsh or Coach Seifert, etc. But I think did – and correct me if I’m wrong – I think we did set a record for coaching there the longest under the present ownership, if I’m not wrong.”

That is correct.

Since John and Denise York took over control of the 49ers in 2000 from Denise’s brother, Eddie DeBartolo, the 49ers have employed eight head coaches. Mike Nolan was fired after seven games of his fourth season. The two coaches who followed Harbaugh -- Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly -- were fired after 5-11 and 2-14 seasons, respectively.

Harbaugh’s teams advanced to the NFC Championship Game in each of his first three seasons, including a Super Bowl appearance. He and the 49ers “mutually parted ways,” the club announced, immediately after the team finished with an 8-8 record in 2014.

“I take pride in that,” Harbaugh said. “Maybe there should be an endurance medal, a courage medal, for that.”

Shanahan mentioned Harbaugh during his opening remarks at the introductory press conference earlier this month:

“I’ve got to start out thanking Jed and the whole York family. Giving me this opportunity is, it’s a dream come true and it’s not just an opportunity to be a head coach, but to be a head coach at a place like this where you talk about Bill Walsh, you talk about George Seifert, Steve Mariucci, Jim Harbaugh and you can go down the line with the coaches.”

Said Harbaugh, “Just appreciated it. Appreciated it, and not just for me personally, but appreciated that for all the wonderful players we had and the wonderful coaches and the effort that was put in. People poured their hearts and souls into those years. It’s just appreciated that Kyle would make that comment.”

Harbaugh said he has deep respect for Shanahan and new 49ers general manager John Lynch, whom Harbaugh asked to speak to his Stanford teams during his four-year tenure as head coach.

“Yeah, I would’ve loved to have worked for John Lynch,” Harbaugh said. “He reminds me a lot of the athletic director we have here Warde Manuel, who’s also a former player and a teammate of mine. Common sense guys who are team guys, just the way they go about their business always speaks volumes.

“I thought John took note when they were going through the process. e didn’t want his name mentioned and I think that’s . . . I don’t know if a lot of people noticed that, but I think that’s a profound thing. I think that speaks volumes for who he is as a person. He wants to do a good job and it’s for the right reasons. He’s a competitor at the highest level, so I have great respect for that.”

Kawakami also asked Harbaugh about whether he believes quarterback Colin Kaepernick is still capable of being an NFL starter.

“There’s no doubt he can be an NFL starting quarterback,” Harbaugh said.

“I’m sure Kyle, the coaching staff there and John will meet on it, they’ll think about it, they’ll watch, much like we did when we got in there in 2011. And they’ll make the best decision they can for the team and the organization and it’ll play out the way it’s going to play out.”

Lynch's hirings of Peters, Mayhew left no room for Gamble

Lynch's hirings of Peters, Mayhew left no room for Gamble

During the month the 49ers had no general manager or head coach, Tom Gamble was the next-highest-ranking football official and was charge of the personnel department on an interim basis.

But CEO Jed York made it clear from the beginning Gamble, whom Trent Baalke promoted to assistant general manager just prior to the start of training camp last summer, would not be considered for a promotion to general manager.

John Lynch, with no front-office experience, was hired over Arizona’s Terry McDonough and Minnesota’s George Paton. Before Lynch’s introductory press conference, he hired two top lieutenants in the personnel department to usurp Gamble on the organization's power structure.

On Wednesday, the 49ers announced what had become inevitable: Gamble was leaving the organization.

“I must thank Jed, the York family and the entire 49ers organization for the wonderful memories they provided me and my family, but it is time I move on,” Gamble said in a statement. “This past month, I have had the pleasure of working alongside John Lynch and the talented staff he has assembled. The team is in capable hands and I wish them nothing but the best.”

Lynch’s first move as general manager was to hire Adam Peters away from the Denver Broncos to serve as 49ers vice president of player personnel.

Lynch worked alongside Peters when Lynch took part in Broncos meetings and prospect evaluations, which included a trip to the NFL scouting combine, prior to the 2013 draft.

“That month, month-and-a-half, I actually sat next to Adam every day,” Lynch told CSNBayArea.com. “Those are long meetings. I’d listen to him and we’d talk in between about players. I just saw way back then, he’s a guy who’s highly respected in the league. I firmly believe in two, three years, he would’ve been a GM. He was on that track, at least.”

During Lynch’s introductory press conference a week later, he announced the hiring of Martin Mayhew as senior personnel executive. Lynch and Mayhew were teammates in the secondary for Lynch’s first four NFL seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Mayhew spent seven seasons as Detroit Lions general manager. Mayhew should be able to provide Lynch with valuable counsel as learns on the job after spending the past eight seasons as a TV analyst on FOX.

“Martin has sat in the seat as a general manager and his experience will play an integral role in helping us locate the type of football player we want representing this organization both on the field and in the community,” Lynch said.

Gamble recently completed his 29th NFL season and his 10th with the 49ers in two stints. After he was fired as Philadelphia Eagles vice president of personnel late in the 2014 season, and came back to the 49ers in the 2015 offseason.

While with the Eagles, Gamble was one of the few individuals in the front office who worked well with Chip Kelly. Gamble played an important role in speaking up for Kelly and bringing him to the 49ers last offseason.

Kelly and Baalke were fired after the 49ers' 2-14 season, and the 49ers promoted the ability to create a fresh start when a new coach and general manager. While the 49ers were expecting Gamble to remain with the organization through the draft, his spot with the organization was going to be tenuous with a new regime.

“He is a class act who has helped a great deal in this transition, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know him,” Lynch said in a statement. “After working together over the last month, Tom and I agreed that it would be in both of our best interests for him to pursue other opportunities.”