The San Francisco 49ers are bad on offense this season. It’s because of the offensive line, and Colin Kaepernick, and the play calling of Greg Roman. But it also has something to do with Jim Harbaugh assembling a uniquely large coaching staff on the offensive side of the ball, generating more problems than solutions.
The offensive staff for the 49ers, which includes Harbaugh and entry-level assistants, is made up of 12 people. That’s how much it takes to generate the 23rd best offense in the NFL as it turns out. On defense, where they’re ranked third in the NFL? Only six coaches, with defensive coordinator Vic Fangio also assuming the role of the linebackers coach.
The 49ers are second from the bottom in the NFL in sacks allowed. It seems that there are too many people pulling in too many directions, resulting in something of a mess on the field. When you have a quarterback that’s not exactly the cream of the crop when it comes to organizing and executing offensive plays on his own, it creates an even bigger mess. Kaepernick isn’t a once-in-a-lifetime kind of talent, but it’s hard blaming him and his bad decision making on all the 49ers woes.
Greg Roman often gets the blame. He’s calling the plays from the booth, but Jim Harbaugh has the veto power on the sideline to change the plays. No one really knows how many times that actually happens. But there’s more to this issue than just Harbaugh and Roman, with Harbaugh looking like someone who might leave at the end of the season – maybe to Oakland, maybe to Michigan, while Roman is the one fans want to be fired.
John Morton, the wide receivers coach, tries to constantly influence the passing attack. Mike Scolari, the offensive line coach, has a big say in how the offense shapes up as well. Eric Mangini coaches the tight ends, and being a former head coach you know he has a say in the matter. Harbaugh wants a lot of coaches around him which is part of his gripe with the 49ers front office. The results this season after three years of looking like the best or one of the best teams in the NFL is hard to fathom.
The easy route is firing Roman, at least for the sake of popularity among fans. But fixing the problem? It’s probably a bit deeper than that, and after the 49ers pick up their almost guaranteed win against the Raiders, they’ll once again be faced with opponents who have what it takes to expose the flaws in their offensive system. the main reason why making the playoffs seems so difficult this season, and might be the catalyst in the end of the Harbaugh era.