'Evil Genius' Roman Has Breathed Life Into 49ers Offense

Offensive coordinator is helping Niners blossom into more balanced, dangerous unit than it was in 2011

By Doug Williams
|  Monday, Oct 8, 2012  |  Updated 8:08 AM PDT
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'Evil Genius' Roman Has Breathed Life Into 49ers Offense

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Quarterback Alex Smith and running back Frank Gore lead a balanced 49ers offense. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)

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Picture Dr. Frankenstein in a dark room, poring over hours and hours of film, drawing up X’s and O’s and coming up with mad, mind-blowing schemes.

It’s the vision conjured up Sunday by 49ers right guard Alex Boone, as he was explaining the Niners’ second consecutive romp, a 45-3 blitzing of the Buffalo Bills at Candlestick Park in which the offense rolled up a team-record 621 yards.

Offensive coordinator Greg Roman was the man behind the onslaught, calling up plays that produced Alex Smith’s 303-yard passing performance on the same day Frank Gore (106 yards) led a rushing attack that pounded out 311 yards.

“He’s an evil genius,”  Boone told Alex Espinoza of 49ers.com after the game. “I love the things he calls up. He’s a great offensive coordinator, knows exactly what to dial up and that’s G-Ro’s specialty. I’m glad he’s on our team, even though he does have a little sleeping problem.”

Boone was referring to Roman’s postgame news conference in which he showed up with a bloodshot right eye, which he attributed to a “lack of sleep and thinking too hard.”

For Roman, that’s understandable.

After guiding the Niners offense in 2011 in his first year since coming to the team from Stanford along with head coach Jim Harbaugh, Roman gradually has been given more weapons to use while Smith has matured into one of the NFL’s most efficient quarterbacks.

Smith now has more wide receivers and deep threats (Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham, Randy Moss and Vernon Davis), and the team has a deep corps of running backs to complement Gore. And now, Roman has smoothly blended backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick into the team’s game plans, using the former Nevada star’s running ability out of the wildcat – or WildKap – formation to give other defenses an extra dimension to worry about.

Kaepernick lined up at both quarterback and wide receiver Sunday – going in motion to take a handoff from Smith – and rushed four times for 39 yards, including a 16-yard TD run in the fourth quarter, his second rushing TD in two weeks.

Going into Sunday’s game against the New York Giants – in a rematch of last season’s NFC Championship Game, won by the Giants – the 49ers offense is looking much more dynamic and dangerous than it did in 2011, when it played second fiddle to the defense and special teams.

Then, Smith was called a “game manager” by some, as the offense played conservatively and the team feasted on field position and turnovers.

Now, after outscoring opponents 79-3 the past two weeks, the 49ers look more assertive offensively while remaining terrific on defense and special teams.

“We’ve got athletes, we’ve got playmakers,” Crabtree said of his team after Sunday’s win. “We just have to use them, we’ve got to create that identity. Like I said, we can’t talk about it, we’ve just got to do it.”

Heading into the 49ers’ opening game this season in Green Bay, Harbaugh told reporters he’s always been impressed by Roman’s creativity, and expected to see big things from the offense in 2012.

When told of Harbaugh’s comments, Roman told Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group, “That was very kind of Coach to say that,” and deflected the conversation to the players he has to work with.

But, he said, he expected the Niners offense to grow as the season progressed.

“With the new pieces in our offense, I’m sure you’ll see an evolution throughout the season of us just getting to know them even better as we go,” he said on Sept. 6.

Now five games in, it has come alive – like a monster created by an “evil genius.”

 

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