The San Francisco 49ers hired Jimmy Raye as offensive coordinator and Mike Johnson as quarterbacks coach on Friday. Check out this Q&A with Raye.Q: How would you describe your philosophy on offense?**
A: I think football is a physical, tough game to begin with. You need to have selfless, both mentally and physically tough people who play the game. When you say that, people assume that you're going to run every play. But toughness involves throwing, catching and pass protection. All of the things that incorporate playing the game of football, create field position, balance and helps you be able to score points. Running is a part of that because people can see that more readily that you're running the ball and that you run with a great desire and passion. Pass protection is also a part of that. We will attempt to play based on the personnel that we have. We will play offensively through design and have an identity that will take care of the contingencies of the defense that we will play. We will use the play-makers we have to make plays and create plays for us. We want to be able to run the ball when we have to run the ball and that's the staple of where you start. It's one thing to run, but to be able to run when they know you're going to run or you have to run in a four minute situation or in a game-ending situation or in a tough environment. We would like to have that mature, if you would. We'd also like to be able off of the run to protect the running plays that we have with the hard-sell, play-action passes, and the quarterback movement, all of the things. It doesn't mean we won't go empty with no backs in the backfield or that we won't run some 'Wildcat' formation. We will do all of those things, but the core and identity we would like to establish is to play hard, physical, tough-minded football and make the defense have to be able to defend the whole field.
Q: In your conference call, you said you hadn't been able to talk to any of the players you're inheriting, have you been able to talk to any of the players that you'll be coaching on offense since then?
A: (Laughs) Yeah, they've all been linemen. So far, they've been linemen. I've met two or three of the offensive linemen. I have calls in and have returned calls from both quarterbacks. Alex Smith, I'm very much looking forward to talking and visiting with him and the same with Shaun Hill. I have not had an opportunity yet to speak with Frank Gore, but the guys who have been coming in and out of the building, who have been working out, have stopped by. I've had a chance to talk to some of them. Their excitement is similar to everybody else's in the building, including myself.
Q: Have you been able to watch tape on the players you'll be coaching on offense?
A: Yes I have, but we're in the process right now of trying to get a playbook of fundamental base plays, getting on the same page with the rest of the coaches and implementing the nomenclature of how I call things and the system works. I have watched tape. I've watched every throw of 2006 that Alex Smith made. I've watched that one time through and have gone a second time through to make sure that I see what in my mind tells me I'm looking at and not what somebody else sees. I've watched that and I got a first-hand look at Shaun Hill when we (New York Jets) played here back in the winter. I watched the Jets game again and I watched the last game of the season that he played.
Q: What excites you about some of the pieces that you'll have on offense?
A: Well first of all, the size, athleticism and physicality of the offensive front are the starting point. Front to back, it gives you a reason to be excited with the offensive line and the depth that we can add there. A couple of years ago, Frank Gore performed to a Pro Bowl level. I think he's very capable of getting back to that form. Vernon Davis is a very excitable player. I anticipate meeting him and working with him. Isaac Bruce I know of his reputation and I've watched him play. He was very productive last year. Josh Morgan is a young player, who I'm excited to see. There are pieces that are there that lead me to optimism. There are things that are in place that are solidified. With the things that we have an opportunity to improve and get better, gives you as a coach, some excitement and adrenaline to look forward to working with them.
Q: In the past you've gotten a lot of production out of your tight ends, is that something you'll be looking from Vernon Davis as well?
A: Yes and at this point, because of the guys I've had, they did it at an extremely high level. One in particular, Tony Gonzales, was very productive in our system. The tight end is a guy, who will be productive in the way we play. We will give him an opportunity to make plays as well as the wide receivers, but I'm excited that we have a physical talent like Davis. If he can play close to the level of some of the other performers that we've had at that position, it would be a real plus.
Q: What does quarterback coach Mike Johnson bring to the coaching staff?
A: We have a similar background in terms of the system. He was the quarterback coach with Norv Turner, who started with me way back with (Ernine) Zampese back at the (Los Angeles) Rams. He was a quarterback coach at San Diego. I think it's always good when a young coach has more than one exposure. He left there and then was with Dan Reeves and Michael Vick at Atlanta. Michael was a different type of quarterback, but was very productive and had a Prow Bowl season while he was there. Then he left and went to Baltimore with coach (Brian) Billick, so he has a varied background with guys who have been very successful in this league at throwing the football and throwing it down the field. He's coached quarterbacks who have been very productive at that part of it. It makes sense that he and I work together, the backgrounds are similar. It cuts down some of the language and the talk that we don't have to rehearse over and over, because of the similarities in our background. It expedites our ability of what we're trying to do and get it taught and we see things through the same eye.