Going into his third season with the 49ers, Greg Roman still has his foot on the gas, devising new and creative ways to utilize his personnel.
Whether it's a fly sweep, a pass to an eligible offensive lineman, read options or plays out of the pistol formation, Roman admits the skills of his offensive players allow him flexibility.
"I think our players are the guide there," the 49ers offensive coordinator told 49ers.com. "We're always going to try to work to their strengths. They're very open-minded and study hard. That might allow us to do more than some teams do, maybe not. We're always going to try to expand, evolve and adapt to the strengths of our players."
After losing Michael Crabtree because of a torn Achilles, sidelining him for much of the 2013 season, Roman will be forced to adapt once again. Roman noted how valuable Crabtree was to the offense last season, but is eager to see one of San Francisco's young receivers step up and contribute.
"I don't think you can replace Michael Crabtree, but it's the next man up," Roman said. "However, we have to make up for that lost production. We're going to have to find a way to do that. Michael is a very good player that's coming into his own. He's working hard at healing right now."
Kyle Williams and Mario Manningham, two key contributors in 2012, are both recovering from ACL injuries and are on schedule to return.
Second-year receiver A.J. Jenkins is also making progress, adding muscle and feeling much more comfortable in the 49ers offense. Jenkins has been working opposite Anquan Boldin during Organized Team Activities, along with Ricardo Lockette and rookie Quinton Patton.
"He's got a year under his belt and I think the work he did this offseason will help him out tremendously from a physical standpoint," Roman pointed out about Jenkins. "He'll be bigger, stronger and even more resistant to injury. He'll be able to handle the physical challenges of the game that much more. He's doing a really good job."
Leading the way in the receiving corps is Boldin, who's already had a big impact on the entire group.
"I think Anquan is an accomplished veteran in this league," Roman said. "Just his demeanor, how he handles his business day in and day out, is great for everybody to be a part of, to see and to learn from. That will only makes us stronger as an offense."
Roman has also given defenses a variety of looks in the running game, thanks to the talents of Frank Gore, LaMichael James, Anthony Dixon and Kendall Hunter, who's also making progress as he recovers from an Achilles tear.
"Kendall Hunter is a very good football player and really brought a different dynamic to our run and pass game," Roman said. "He's right on schedule. LaMichael is going through it again for the second time. You can see his comfort level in the system, being able to branch out and do some different things. We're very excited. Jewel Hampton is another guy to compliment Frank Gore. We've got a lot of work to do, but really like where we're at and where we're going."
Up front, the 49ers return all five starting offensive lineman. Behind the starters, Daniel Kilgore enters his third year in the system and has taken snaps at center and guard this offseason. Joe Looney has also lined up at the interior line positions and Adam Snyder rejoined San Francisco, bringing the ability to play any position along the line.
"It just makes you that much more resistant over the course of a long, physical, arduous season, to have different options available," Roman said. "We have a sharp group and they've been playing together for a while now. We're really excited to see them take off this year as a unit."
During the offseason, Roman and the offensive position coaches spend more time on the field, working with players individually. It allows them to go over the finer details of the system and they install new offensive concepts piece by piece.
"It's like going to a private school in a way, where each player gets a lot of individual coaching, individual teaching, individual attention," Roman said. "Our coaches do a great job with that. It's a critical part of the year, not only from an individual standpoint, but also the chemistry of the offense. It allows us to experiment with certain things, see where they may fit or may not fit, move them forward going into training camp. We're really getting everybody prepared to enter into training camp and compete."