Colin Kaepernick

49ers trading in their minivan offense for a sports car?

Colin Kaepernick 49ers QB drill

“After three years, we’ve pretty much run the gambit with a lot of different players in terms of what we were willing to do to win a game. And it was time to clean out the garage. So, really just tried to streamline things,” Greg Roman said.

“Taking a complex thing and making it as simple as possible is an art form. And, that’s what we tried to do. So, hopefully we’re good artists.”

Roman came up with the “garage” analogy, so let’s roll. He’s streamlining the offense, and generally that means faster.

Joey McMurry and I talked to Chris Biderman on Wednesday, and he brought up some good points about what Roman could’ve meant with his comments. According to Biderman, some of the problems with delay of game penalties and the like probably came from the 49ers’ choose-your-own-adventure offense. That is, the 49ers gave Colin Kaepernick multiple plays to choose from, based on pre-snap reads. Neither play called for many reads/progressions after the snap, but figuring out the correct play entailed looking at the defense, communicating signals, and shifting players. That’s not exactly the recipe to succeed in a game of beat-the-play-clock.

Roman isn’t going to tell us how they’ve changed the offense, although he allowed that five-yard flags for tardiness are to be avoided. But that can’t be it. The 49ers haven’t lost games because the play clock has expired, as frustrating/annoying/stupefying as that habit has been for viewers.

Plus, that’s not how the 49ers think. The Jim Harbaugh regime has always focused on taking advantage of personnel strengths and forcing the pace, not obsessing over minor errors.

Biderman’s point about Kaepernick moving to a different level of Roman’s offense, one where he could go to the huddle with one play and adjust after the snap, got me thinking …

Why not the Niners?

It’s not like Chip Kelly is THAT different from Harbaugh or Roman. He came from the Pac-12, he’s proven that his crazy-fast tempo works in college and in the pros … OK, maybe Kelly is kind of a badass, a coach other NFL teams are probably going to have to deal with for a while.

The 49ers have been running one of the slowest-tempo’d offenses around since Harbaugh, and that fit in with their whole power running scheme, great defense, solid special teams identity. They were a team full of great athletes who were also great plodders … but they also have a really fast quarterback.

With Harbaugh and Roman in charge, the problem hasn’t been innovation. They’d take an idea from the 2013 Madden champion if they thought it would provide a way to get first downs more often than not. Time of possession is seductive, but the 49ers have to go into next season with more than just a Frank Gore-centric offense where Plan B is Carlos Hyde. And it sure seems like the Niners have expended fewer seconds between snaps during this training camp than at any time during the previous three.

What could an offense with a quicker pace that utilizes no-huddle concepts do for the 49ers? Instead of relying on pre-snap reads and the right play call, Kaepernick can catch defenses on their heels. If the 49ers can trust him to make more than two reads after the snap, getting the team to the line quickly and forcing a mismatch could certainly help in the passing game.

That’s just one idea. Wouldn’t the read option be more difficult for a defense to contain with less time to manipulate personnel and/or catch their collective breath after the previous play?

Wouldn’t the 49ers be in a better spot of they could control the pace instead of depending on field position and a defense that, at least until NaVorro Bowman gets back, won’t be an obvious advantage from the start of the 2014 season?

If nothing else, a faster offense would get rid of some of those delay of game penalties. That’d at least be worth a basic tuneup.

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