Thursday, October 17, 2013

Greg Roman Is Grade A Ground Beef

During the postgame press conference after the 49ers 32-20 defeat of the Arizona Cardinals, Jim Harbaugh was asked about the 18 play drive that put the game away and ended with 8 straight running plays.  In typical Harbaugh fashion he replied, "We grinded some meat."  Indeed they did grind some meat, and once again offensive coordinator Greg Roman proved to be a master chef.

Ground beef is possibly the most versatile of all the meat family.  It comes to you in just a big lump, but from that beef you can mold it into an amazing hamburger, mix it up for tacos, and make a delicious meat loaf.  I'll stop now so you don't get too hungry before lunch.

Like that ground beef, Greg Roman has shown his versatility repeatedly over his 43 games as the offensive coordinator for the 49ers.  In 2011 he was charged with guiding and offense that had a quarterback who had won 19 games in the first 5 seasons of his career.  His wide receiver group consisted of a former first round draft pick who to that point had underachieved, a veteran trying to hang on, and a former sixth round pick who was entering his fourth season with the club, and would be lost for the season in the 5th game.

Roman saw the challenge and put his offense in position to win every week with a run heavy offense that played to the strength of the players he had.  With the absence of a true second wide receiver he would lean heavily on tight end Vernon Davis to fill the role.  Frank Gore was reborn, running for over 1200 yards while coming off a hip injury that sidelined him the previous season.  And that quarterback put up the best numbers of his career.

Roman was again forced to show his versatility in the middle of the 2012 season when the starting quarterback was injured with a concussion and he was forced to play a second year player who had no starts and only a minimal amount of snaps to that point.

That challenge was met the same as the previous season.  Roman tweaked the offense to meet the skills of his players, playing to their strengths and putting them in a position to win.  The end result saw the 49ers get to the 6th Super Bowl in their storied history, their first in 18 years, with a quarterback who made the biggest game in football his 10th start in the NFL.

Roman is far from perfect.  Called the "Mad Scientist" by some of the players, Roman at times has a penchant to get away from what is working and get a little too fancy.  This played a role in the 49ers win, win, loss pattern during 2012, and the 49ers losing the Indianapolis earlier this season.

The key is that Roman learned from those games.  Facing a short week trip to St Louis, and facing the possibility of dropping to 1-3, Roman turned back the clock and went back to what had worked so well for his teams the prior two seasons.  A run heavy, play action game plan led to a big 35-11 victory.

Since that Indianapolis loss the 49ers have gone on to score over 30 points in their last 3 games.  It is the first time since 2003 that the 49ers were able to accomplish that feat.  Roman's creativity and versatility has a lot to do with it.

Once again dealing with a wide receiver group that is depleted by injuries, Roman showed the creativity repeatedly throughout the 49ers victory over the Cardinals.  The game plan included a little of everything.  There was Vernon Davis lined up wide, Davis and Bruce Miller lining up in a bunch formation with Kyle Williams, guard Daniel Kilgore motioning out to line up as a wide receiver, a three tight end set that shifted from a run formation to a 3 wide formation.

All of these personnel packages caused confusion for the Cardinals, and created matchups that the 49ers were able to exploit throughout the game.  When the chips were down, and it was time to win it, Roman went back to the identity of his offense, and they "grinded some meat."

Greg Roman is responsible for the beef grinding.  And he is grade A.

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