San Francisco 49ers: Exit Mike Martz, Enter Jimmy Raye and Moran Norris?

Andy Bensch@@AndyBenschSenior Writer IMay 8, 2009

The 49ers are yet again "one and done" with another offensive coordinator. After last year's disappointing 7-9 season, their latest hot-shot offensive coordinator Mike Martz was let go from the team. 

Currently the 49ers are on their seventh different offensive coordinator over the past seven seasons including each year of the much maligned and injury plagued career of quarterback Alex Smith.

Hiring Mike Martz prior to last season was a move that confused the overwhelming majority of 49er fans who realized that their team didn't have the adequate personnel to run Martz' pass-happy offense.

However, this year the 49ers have brought in a coordinator who runs an offense that is perfectly situated to their offensive personnel. Jimmy Raye has been a coordinator for 11 seasons with six different teams and has clearly been around the block.

Despite a dismal career record as offensive coordinator at 65-125, Raye has been the offensive mind behind some effective offenses.

Raye spent three years in Kansas City which saw the prime of Tony Gonzalez, and a grizzly veteran quarterback in former 49er Elvis Grbac. During the 1998 and 1999 seasons Grbac threw for an average of 3,800 yards and averaged 25 touchdowns, while Gonazalez averaged 1,026 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.

In 2001 with the Washington Redskins, Raye had a poor selection of quarterbacks including Tony Banks and Jeff George and was forced to run his team through their best player, running back Stephen Davis.

In 356 attempts, Davis ran for over 1400 yards and five touchdowns which showed that Raye has the ability to pound the rock if the team's best weapon is lined up in the backfield.

Clearly the 49ers' offense is going to be drastically different from last season, but with Raye running the group, San Francisco fans can look for a much simpler, yet more effective scheme. And one of the reasons for the simpler scheme is the return of fullback Moran Norris.

Norris, who played for the 49ers from 2006-07, spent the 2008 season with the win-less Detroit Lions. However, San Francisco has made it a point to bring him back to once again be the lead blocker for Frank Gore.

And for good reason, each of the 49ers successful tailbacks over the last 15 years had legitimate fullbacks in front of them. Ricky Waters had William Floyd, and both Garrison Hearst and Charlie Garner had Fred Beasley.

It is no secret why Gore's best two rushing totals came in the two seasons in which he had Norris leading the way. And in 2006, when the 49ers had an accomplished coordinator (Norv Turner) running the unit, and Moran Norris lead-blocking, Gore put up an outstanding 1,695 yards rushing, another 485 receiving and nine total touchdowns.

If the 49ers envision themselves going to the playoffs, their offense is going to need Frank Gore to eclipse his 2006 numbers and lead his team to the playoffs on the ground. With pass-happy Mike Martz out, and Jimmy Raye and Moran Norris in, Gore might just be able to do it.

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