Incompetent Playcalling by Jimmy Raye is Killing the 49ers Offense

Steven ResnickSenior Writer INovember 14, 2009

As the season progresses the one thing that remains clear is that Jimmy Raye as a play caller and an offensive coordinator does not mix. Going further I find it odd that Mike Singletary would choose a coach that hasn't done anything as a coordinator in the last decade.

You look at the history of Raye and you will find most of his best efforts recently came as being a coach that specialized in certain aspects of the game. In the decade, Raye was the running backs coach from 2006-2008 with the New York Jets and also from 2002-2003 he was the senior offensive assistant as well for the Jets.

Raye had three coordinating jobs in the decade of the 2000's; he was with the Kansas City Chiefs, the 2001 Washington Redskins, and he was with the 2004-2005 Oakland Raiders.

If you looked at he offensive capabilities of all three of those teams, Raye's offenses were well below average; it says something when the longest stint you have as a coordinator is only two years and the longest as a specialist is three years. 

This only further proves the fact that he was better off as a specialist. During his time with the Jets as the running backs coach the running game for the Jets improved. Thomas Jones last year for the Jets ran for over 1,300 yards and had 13 touchdowns as well.

As for the Jets in 2008, under Raye the rushing attack was within the top 10 in yards, touchdowns, and yards per carry.

Although 2006 and 2007 didn't have the Jets as successful with the running game under Raye, it only shows that it took a little bit of time for the Jets' players to get used to what he wanted his running backs to do when carrying the football.

Now, it's 2009 and Raye has a coordinator job again. Let's put it this way: there's very few positive words to describe the 49ers offense under Raye. I think that the game last night against the Chicago Bears proved it.

Offensively there were very few positive players for the 49ers that were called. I will give Raye credit on certain plays such as the direct snap to Frank Gore that caught the Bears completely off guard.

Yet, when you watched the game there was no utilization of any of the 49ers' weapons.

Vernon Davis wasn't used, Frank Gore even though his numbers looked good wasn't used until the fourth quarter when the 49ers had a chance to run out the clock, and Michael Crabtree was used early in the game, but only had one catch after the first quarter.

As a fan it seems like defenses know when the 49ers are going to run the football and when the team is going to pass. The most effective running play for the 49ers last night was not with Smith lining up under center it was actually out of the shotgun formation.

In the fourth quarter when the 49ers had a chance to put the Bears away by scoring a touchdown, yet had to settle for the short field goal, it clearly shows why Raye is just not the right man for the job.

The first play was good; a hand-off to Gore who took it to the one yard line. The 49ers again tried using Gore, but the Bears' defense annihilated the 49ers offensive line and Gore was pushed back for a loss.

Third-and-goal the 49ers try to pass, but the Bears got too much pressure on Alex Smith and all he could do was throw the ball away to preserve the field goal attempt. If Smith was able to elude the rush and set his feet he had Josh Morgan wide open in the corner of the end zone.

I just disagree with the play calling; why not roll out Smith and see if he could run it in from the one? How about throwing a lob pass to Davis in the corner of the end zone and allowing him to use his athleticism to be the one to make the play?

Another play that just was incompetent play calling was when the 49ers went for it on 4th-and-short. Instead of giving the ball to Gore, Raye calls for a quarterback sneak with Smith who didn't get the first down.

I would say if Smith had been playing for a long time I would believe that it would have been a better call, but with Smith not having seen much action in the regular season over the past couple of seasons, this was the time to call a run for Gore or surprise the Bears' defense by throwing a pass.

If Raye was planning on having Smith run the football, why not roll him out of the pocket then? He's much better at finding the hole and going through it then trying to push the pile; Smith is athletic, he's not the type of quarterback that's going to be able to get that push to get the first down in that situation.

One other huge problem with the 49ers? There were just too many times that the 49ers passed on first down and it became 2nd-and-10.

When you look at the end of the game though you'll see that Gore had 25 carries and the 49ers attempted 23 passes. Yet, that had to do with the fact at the end of the game the team went way too conservative.

In fact, out of the 11 plays on the last drive for the 49ers, only one was a pass and it was a little shuffle pass to Michael Robinson that got the 49ers a first down. That pass only went for four yards, while on the 10 carries the 49ers got 39 yards.

Let's not forget the 49ers got the ball with nine minutes remaining and when the 49ers did punt there was two minutes and 53 seconds remaining in the game. So, again way too conservative by the 49ers on the last drive of the game especially since at the time the 49ers only had a 7-6 lead.

Alex Smith's numbers were far from impressive; he went 16-23 for 118 yards was sacked only twice and threw an interception, which really wasn't his fault even though the ball was under thrown.

The problem again is obvious.

Davis caught three passes for 16 yards with a long of six.  Michael Crabtree was sitting at three catches in the first quarter and only caught one more and ended with four catches for 48 yards with a long of 20 so before that he had three catches for 28 yards; not exactly eye popping numbers by the 49ers two best receivers.

But, combining those numbers for Davis and Crabtree, that accounted for 64 yards on seven catches.

Frank Gore and Josh Morgan combined to catch seven catches as well and that went for 45 yards, and the two other receivers to catch the ball were the aforementioned Robinson and Jason Hill. Hill had one catch for just five yards and to top it off he was given a horrible mark on that catch which should have given the 49ers a first down.

Here's a few ideas I have for getting the 49ers back on track offensively: on first down start giving the ball to Gore and see what he can do on first down.

Since Davis is one of the most athletic tight ends in the league on screen passes use him and his speed to get yards.

Finally I would like to see the 49ers make some quick throws. 

The key for the 49ers in moving forward and actually winning football games is that the team needs to find the way to get the ball to their play makers: Davis, Crabtree, and Gore.

What's even more sad about the 49ers offense is that their leading wide receiver in touchdowns is Hill with two and he's only played in two games. Obviously with only one catch against the Bears he did his scoring in only one game.

Morgan is the only other wide receiver for the 49ers to catch a touchdown pass. Something needs to change to get the 49ers receivers more involved as well.

Just look at Crabtree; he has played in four games already and has 18 receptions which is only five away from Morgan's 23 catches, which lead the team from the wide receiver position.

Raye has to do a better job of calling plays that will help the 49ers receivers, even if it's just short routes that get the 49ers four or five yards. Raye knows that the offensive line of the team isn't the strongest part, so why not call plays that aren't necessarily going to be slow developing?

Just too many questions that have not been answered by Raye. So, I have one last question, and that is: when are the 49ers going to hire an offensive coordinator that actually will be around more than a year?


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