I bet that if you asked Jim Harbaugh what the key to the 49ers offense is he wouldn’t say anything because Harbaugh runs a really tight ship that is not exactly forthcoming with information. But let’s say that you were able to get Harbaugh to talk. I bet he would say that establishing the running game is probably the key to the 49ers offense.
It makes sense and it fits into the blue collar image that he has chosen for the team and plays into what is supposed to be the strength of the team with star running back Frank Gore.
However there is a big problem with this plan.
Through the first three games it seems to me that the key hasn’t been getting Gore touches or establishing the run. Those attempts have seemed futile and I am beginning to jump on the bandwagon that Gore is no longer good enough to squeeze through the miniscule holes that this offensive line can open up and that it might be time to go to a tailback tandem of Gore and Kendall Hunter.
No the key to the 49ers offense is not the running game, it is Vernon Davis and if the team can find ways to get the ball into his hands.
Davis is probably the biggest matchup problem for other defenses with his size and speed. He runs good routes, has decent hands, and can be a half-decent blocker. Overall he is probably one of the better tight ends in the game and when he is utilized the 49ers win games.
In Week 1 Davis was targeted 6 times (tied for first with Braylon Edwards) turning those into 5 catches and 47 yards and the offensive leader for the game.
In Week 2 Davis disappeared from the game plan. It was a combination of the Cowboys giving extra attention to him and him being called on to be an extra blocker to help the offensive line that couldn’t keep Alex Smith upright. All said he was targeted twice and caught both balls for a total of 18 yards.
Last week Davis really got involved in the offense with 9 targets of which he turned into 8 catches and a game-leading 114 yards. The Bengals didn’t have an answer to Davis and he allowed the 49ers to have just enough offense to beat a bad Bengals team.
Now it might be too simple to look at this and say, “Well, when Davis gets the ball the 49ers win,” because both the Seahawks and the Bengals look like they are pretty bad teams and the Cowboys might not be a top tier team but they aren’t a horrible team. However, it surely doesn’t hurt to get your top playmaker the ball more.
So memo to Greg Roman: call Vernon Davis’ number more, I don’t care what you need to do but if you want to get this offense moving and give the team a chance to win you will get this man the ball.