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49ers Emphasize Red Zone Work

Posted Jun 12, 2013

Greg Roman has made a greater emphasis on practicing in the red zone this offseason.

Greg Roman has made a greater emphasis on practicing in the red zone this offseason. It’s not being overdone – the 49ers are looking to improve on attacking from inside the 20-yard line – without it dominating the bulk of practice sessions.

The 49ers have installed offensive plays twice prior to this week’s mandatory minicamp and will use the three-day offseason send-off to master the offensive playbook before training camp begins in late July.

Roman wants the 49ers to improve in the red zone, but not at the expense of working on other important scenarios.

“I think there’s a lot of different areas we need to improve in and red zone being one of them,” the 49ers coordinator explained. “We’re not just, at the exclusion of everything else, trying to get better at one thing, but there’s definitely some extra emphasis.”

Jim Harbaugh has scripted red zone work in offseason practice, but Roman cautioned that the team has maintained a “careful balance.”

“There’s a foundation we want to lay and we’ll just devote a little bit more time to certain specific areas,” Roman added.

The 49ers scored 28 touchdowns on 55 red zone trips in 2012. San Francisco, however, came up short in Super Bowl XLVII after failing to convert the biggest red zone appearance of the season. With four downs from the 7-yard line, San Francisco turned the ball over on downs and eventually lost to the Baltimore Ravens.

Roman understands the historical ramifications of the defeat, but has moved on from the loss. He still carries memories of his entire coaching career, the Super Bowl included.

“I think about every game,” Roman said when asked about the Super Bowl still lingering. “I’m thinking about 2013, and the challenges we have ahead. But, whatever’s historical is historical. I think about plays from games 15-20 years ago.”

Specifically, Roman is looking at how he can help in the development of third-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The dual-threat signal-caller has grown significantly according to Roman.

“I’d just say everything,” the 49ers offensive coordinator said. “His approach, his expectations, his understanding of everything. Certainly everybody’s got something to work on, if not multiple things, but he’s light years ahead of where he was last year.”

With only 10 starts under Kaepernick's belt, Roman is looking for even more production from the 49ers quarterback in 2013. That includes in the red zone, too.

Roman is also hopeful that a young wideout on the roster will develop in the aftermath of Michael Crabtree’s Achilles injury.

“It’s a process,” Roman said before noting that A.J. Jenkins, Quinton Patton and Ricardo Lockette have all stepped up in the offseason.

“We’re trying to get these guys ready for training camp, to come in and compete, and win a job and it’s happening,” Roman said.

Jenkins turned in the best offensive play during the first day of veteran minicamp and had his best week of practice to close out OTAs.

“I think there’s a natural process that goes on, a comfort level and that’s something that’s growing all the time and needs to continue to grow,” Roman said of last year’s first-round pick.

The 49ers will have time to evaluate the work of the entire offensive roster and have an extra set of eyes to help do it: Eric Mangini.

The respected NFL coach with 15 years of experience joined the team as a senior offensive consultant. Mangini has been studying the offensive sessions this offseason and will soon meet with Roman once he’s fully caught up to speed.

“Eric’s a wealth of knowledge,” Roman said. “He’s a guy that’s got a great pedigree. And he’s a very hardworking, intelligent, he can come at things with a different angle than we might do. So, it’s been great.”

Once minicamp wraps up, Roman and Mangini will review last season’s game tape and also “look to the future,” the offensive coordinator said.

“I’m sure he’ll boost us and help us in certain areas,” Roman added.

With another set of eyes and the intent of improving in the red zone, the 49ers feel like they’ve taken strides to improve on the offensive side of the ball. Minicamp sessions allow another opportunity for the group to get a better understanding of where they are heading into 2013.


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