San Francisco 49ers: How the Pistol Offense Could Bring Home a Championship

Giancarlo Ferrari-KingFeatured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2013

San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick
San Francisco 49ers QB Colin KaepernickHarry How/Getty Images

Do you know who Chris Ault is? If you don't, it's time you learned.

For those of you don't know, Chris Ault is the former head coach of the Nevada Wolf Pack. An innovative offensive mind that is responsible for bringing the Pistol offense to the National Football League.

He also happens to be one of the main reasons Colin Kaepernick is so successful as a pro.

A cliché term used the last few years when talking about the NFL is innovation. General Managers look for it when they are hiring their next head coach, and teams draft players who fit that definition.

Innovation is the reason the Cleveland Browns hired Rob Chudzinski out of the clear blue last week, and it's the reason the 49ers are headed to their second NFC Championship game in as many years.

When San Francisco's Offensive Coordinator, Greg Roman, sat down and plotted ways to expose the Green Bay Packers defense this past week, he was basing his innovative strategy off the Pistol offense, and how Green Bay would respond to it.

So what exactly is the Pistol offense? For those who want an in-depth, detailed look into the scheme, I highly recommend checking out Chris B. Brown's break down on Sports Nation here.

In it's purest definition, the Pistol offense is a hybrid of the shotgun formation. But instead of focusing around the pass, the Pistol is centered around a mobile quarterback and his ability to shred a defense up via the ground.




Read options, draw plays, inside zone reads and pass plays all make this offense incredibly challenging to stop if you have the right personnel running it. And with Frank Gore, Colin Kaepernick, and LaMichael James in their backfield, having the right personnel is exactly why the 49ers" target="_blank">San Francisco 49ers can win this year's Super Bowl.

Fellow Bleacher Report writer Scott Semmler explained in an excellent column earlier today how the 49ers hid their Pistol late in the season so they could use it early on in the playoffs.

What was the result of the Niners secrecy? Catastrophe for an over-matched Green Bay Packers defense.

Next week, San Francisco once again has a chance to get to the Super Bowl. The only thing standing in his way are Matty Ice and the Atlanta Falcons.

We already know how good Dirk Koetter's offense is and how good San Francisco's defense is. The outcome of this game is going to come down to one essential question. Can Atlanta stop the Pistol with just one week of prep time?

My belief is they simply cannot.

Atlanta will be forced to attack the line of scrimmage with their athletic defensive ends in order to try and stop the run. Realizing Atlanta will have to commit to stopping the run, it's the play-calling of Greg Roman and execution of Colin Kaepernick that will overwhelm the Falcons.


While C.K. may not run for 181 yards again, the threat of his legs alone will force the Falcons to stack the line of scrimmage, leaving their secondary vulnerable to a sustained aerial attack.



If Atlanta is going to stack the box and commit to stopping the 49ers ground game, guys like Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis will see a ton of one-on-one coverage all game long.

It will be up to the defensive backs of the Falcons to slow down a talented group of wide receivers and tight ends. The Super Bowl hopes of the Atlanta Falcons hinge on their ability to contain these receivers.

What we learned all season long with Robert Griffin III and last week in San Fran is that the Pistol offense is here to stay. Unlike the cheesy wildcat scheme of years past, the Pistol is a lot more difficult to stop.

The fact that it's so new at the pro level, and it's ability to create panic in a defense for 60 minutes is a crucial reason why the San Francisco 49ers could bring home a Super Bowl trophy this season.

It's time for the doubters to believe in San Francisco, and more importantly believe in the Pistol.