49'ers Offense: Lack Of Identity

Louis WeinerContributor INovember 13, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO - NOVEMBER 12: Quarterback Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers throws the ball against the Chicago Bears at Candlestick Park on November 12, 2009 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

 Nine games into the season the San Francisco 49'ers are still a work in progress. Early in the season with Shaun Hill at the helm the Niners started 3-1 playing a conservative, ball control offense. But when Hill ran into problems moving the ball against the Houston Texans, coach Mike Singletary made the move. In came Alex Smith, nearly two years away from his last game, and suddenly in a spread formation they moved up and down the field. Looking very much like the successful quarterback he was at the University of Utah, in just one half Smith threw for three TD's and nearly 300 yards. Suddenly fans were excited believing the spread was the way to go. The next week when the Niners barely lost a close contest at Indianapolis, the offense went the more conservative route. Despite that, Smith played a pretty good game. With fans clamoring for a more wide open offense, the Niners went that route the following week against Tennessee and got trampled. Smith threw three interceptions and suddenly fans began questioning which way the offense should go. Tonight, in the 49'ers 10-6 win over the Chicago Bears the Niners went back to their conservative ways relying primarily on Frank Gore and running game.

With seven games left the Niners are leaving fans confused. What kind of offense does the team run? It's kind of like a hybrid. Should they go the wide open, throw it all over the place route or the bang it up the middle running game route?

I say Alex Smith's strengths predicate that offense coordinator Jimmy Raye begin relying more on an open style offense. I believe that's the only way the Niners will really flourish.