Just who is Jimmy Raye?
Nearly everyone asked that question upon hearing that the San Francisco 49ers had appointed Jimmy Raye as their newest Offensive Coordinator this past off season.
Local Bay Area sportswriters and pundits alike moaned and groaned out loud over a selection which they thought was, well, uninspiring. Columnists were quick to point out the less than stellar offensive statistics achieved by Jimmy Raye coached teams.
They wrote of the more deserving candidates who were either overlooked entirely or who declined the job outright. They could not believe that a man who, in their opinion, had "bounced" around the league had been chosen to bring the moribund offense of the 49ers back to life. After all, this was a team which arguably had been one of the more historically prolific offensive powerhouses in the NFL in the 1980s and '90s.
How could Mike Singletary replace the so-called genius of Mike Martz with a seemingly obscure Jimmy Raye? How could Mike Singletary appoint an unknown Jimmy Raye to handle an offense once designed and coached by the great Bill Walsh or Mike Holmgren or Mike Shanahan? It just didn't seem right.
Perhaps many of those same sportswriters forgot that Mike Singletary said he wanted winners on his team because first and foremost, Jimmy Raye is a winner.
As a young black quarterback in a day and age when there were most likely not too many black quarterbacks, Jimmy Raye led the Michigan State Spartans to a Rose Bowl berth in 1966.
By the way, Michigan State was undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the nation going into that Rose Bowl. While Michigan State lost that day 14-12 to UCLA, a team they had already beaten in their season opener, they retained their No. 1 national ranking in the final rankings that season.
Jimmy Raye played in the NFL for the Los Angeles Rams and the Philadelphia Eagles. He was drafted by the Rams and converted to a cornerback (remember, there were not too many black quarterbacks in those days). After a short stint in the NFL, Jimmy Raye returned to his alma mater Michigan State where he coached for four years.
As an NFL coach, Jimmy has served as an Offensive Coordinator for five different NFL franchises including the Washington Redskins, the Oakland Raiders, the New England Patriots, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Los Angeles Rams.
San Francisco makes it six teams that he will have served as an offensive coordinator. I call that a vote of confidence from not one but six different teams in the abilities of this man to coach and coach well.
By the way, Jimmy Raye's son, Jimmy Raye, III is also a former NFL player (Los Angeles Rams) and is now currently the Director of Player Personnel for the San Diego Chargers. It would seem that both Jimmy Raye Jr. and his son know a little something about what it takes to succeed in the NFL.
I for one look forward to watching a young 49ers offense blossom under the steady and seasoned hand of an offensive coordinator like Jimmy Raye. They say Mike Singletary is "Old School." I am not sure if Old School is better than New School when it comes to coaching but I do know that a winner is a winner and Jimmy Raye sounds like a winner to me.