One of the things you’ll notice when the 49ers’ coaching staff talks to the press is how they almost cringe when people try to fold and squish what they do into the standard media narrative.
Players aren’t “tools” or “toys” to utilize, nor are they have childlike or animalistic qualities. They’re men who work extremely hard, and should be treated as such.
The coaches don’t use psychological ploys to keep the players from slacking off or underestimating an opponent, they prepare and maximize the skills of the smart, hard-working players on the practice field every day.
Trick, treat or neither?
Greg Roman is getting a bit of a reputation. Not a bad one in the media’s eyes — quite the opposite, actually. The media loves to watch and dissect things that are unique (and worth writing/talking about), so it makes sense that the media loves “trick plays.” So when Colin Kaepernick comes into the game against the Jets and runs the read option, or Mario Manningham takes an end-around down the right sideline for a big gain, the media gets excited because it’s an easy source of new material.
Roman was asked about other teams running “trick plays” and how that affects the 49ers’ desire to do the same. It was obvious that Roman — by all means a pretty amiable guy — bristled at the description.
“I think you can regulate the defense sometimes with different types of plays. I don’t look at them as trick plays, they’re just football plays. The rules are the rules and you work within the rules. So, I don’t know that we have trick plays. They’re what I like to call mixers. You might want to mix in from time to time.
“The more you do them or they work, now a defense has to maybe not run that blitz they were going to run. Maybe not try to dictate the tempo quite so much because something, ‘oh, forgot about that.’ So, now you can regulate the defense a little bit at times with that kind of stuff. So the more people use those unique kind of plays, the more it probably regulates defense.”
I’m just guessing here, but I think what Roman means is that we should expect him to “mix” in at least a couple calls each game that diverge from the normal, “running backs run the ball, quarterbacks throw the ball” plays we’re used to seeing. But he doesn’t want to be known as a playcaller who’s focused on being cute and quirky during games, a coach who relies more on gadget plays than smashmouth football.
In fact, many of the 49ers’ trickiest plays (apologies to Roman for the word choice) come with jumbo sets and are chosen with the intention of running the ball down an opponent’s throat. Not all of them, but you’ll see a lot more physical running plays where unexpected guys carry the ball than flea flickers.
A couple minutes later in Roman’s press conference someone else in the media tent brought up the same phrase … again.
Greg, how much do you think those trick plays and using Colin more, how much do you think they helped jumpstart the offense this week? It seemed like it gave the offense a lift, a little bit more oomph, a little more diversity. Do you think that kind of gave the offense a lift a little?
“Again, they’re not trick plays. They’re just football plays. Whatever those plays were, if they worked … any play that we plan that worked helped jumpstart us. And any play that didn’t decidedly did not jumpstart us.”
In a related story, I don’t think you’ll hear many of the regulars in the media trailer asking Roman about “trick plays” anytime soon.
Kaepernick as a receiver
Matt Barrows asked Roman about what he thought when he saw his backup quarterback, out near the sideline as a wideout, totally uncovered. It was a play that forced the New York Jets to call a quick timeout.
“I don’t know what play you’re talking about,” Roman said.
“It’s on TV,” said Barrows.
“We have ways to get rid of that,” Roman said. “Yeah, I think he was talking to the official about the previous play, next question?”
Here’s a 9-second clip of the end of Roman’s remarks on that play he knew nothing about.