49ers’ offensive coordinator Raye will take heat
SANTA CLARA – San Francisco offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye stood up Thursday and took responsibility for the problems the 49ers had getting plays in on time in their lopsided season-opening loss at Seattle.
He defended himself, too, and insists things can be fixed before Monday night’s game against the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints.
Raye spent nearly 20 minutes Thursday addressing San Francisco’s offense – and coach Mike Singletary sat on the ground five feet away to hear it, and surely lend his support. He later stretched himself out to get comfortable.
“It’s my responsibility. I bear all the responsibility for the way we operate on offense,” Raye said on the heels of the embarrassing 31-6 defeat to the Seahawks. “I’m the leader. It’s my watch. I have the responsibility for the things that occur where it concerns the offense.”
Raye’s media availability was moved up by a day so he could publicly discuss the offensive matters.
Several times quarterback Alex Smith didn’t get the entire play in his ear before his headset cut off with 15 seconds left on the play clock.
Smith now has a wristband with plays on it and that is one thing under consideration to help alleviate the issues, which led to three burned timeouts and Smith being forced to improvise at last second. Raye also could come down to the field from the booth and give the plays directly to Smith, rather than slowing the process down by going through middle man and quarterbacks coach Mike Johnson. Raye prefers to be in the box, without distraction.
Also Thursday, Singletary, Raye and Smith shot down a Yahoo! report from this week claiming there is tension between the players and coaches and that some players approached Singletary this offseason to complain about Raye.
Singletary expressed disappointment in the piece. Yahoo! reporter Jason Cole said through a pool reporter: “That’s fine. I stand by what I wrote.”
“I believe in our country, in society, the saddest thing has happened,” Singletary said. “One thing that I want to teach our guys is to be men. If there’s something that you have to say, go say it, and say that you said it. But don’t go say a bunch of stuff, ‘But don’t tell him I said it.’ To me, that’s a rat, that’s a coward, so those things I can’t spend my time on. …
“I don’t want to deal with a rat. I don’t want to spend my time trying to find out who said this, who did that. The article is not factual, No. 1. No. 2, I don’t want to spend my time trying to find a rat. In time, the smell will come.”
Smith was surprised to read the information that he said was all new to him.
“I’m not going to lie. I found most of the article pretty ridiculous,” Smith said. “Stuff that I had absolutely no idea about. Stuff that was news to me that players were going to coach Singletary this offseason and had these issues. That’s something I certainly had no idea about and I meet with Singletary pretty often. So, no idea. I was completely unaware of. You can ask the rest of my team, but as far as I’m concerned completely coming from nowhere. False.”
Raye isn’t a stranger for taking heat. There were questions whether he would return for a second season with the Niners, but Singletary stood by him. This is first time in eight years the franchise hasn’t had a new person in the job.
“I’ve done this a long time. This is my 34th year in the National Football League. I’m not flawless,” Raye said. “I think I speak with good diction. I don’t garble anything. I think I express myself pretty well. So, whoever Yahoo! is, maybe he should come call the plays.”
Raye said in many instances he’d rather accept a 5-yard penalty than use a timeout. Smith said the situations Sunday were too crucial and he made the choice to call timeout. Smith pointed to one situation on their third offensive play of the game, a first-and-10 on the 18, when he might not have needed to do so but didn’t want to disrupt any momentum with a penalty.
Raye said there is a group of “fail-safe” plays Smith can go to in case of a mixup or in a case like Sunday when he didn’t get the entire play. Yet shifting to those options with the clock running down isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to do, either, for a quarterback who thrives when things are running smoothly.
The 49ers (0-1), the preseason favorite to win the NFC West, didn’t manage a touchdown in their opener – and now things get even tougher with the Saints coming to town for a prime time matchup.
“I think it’s important that all of you understand that this game has a human element to it,” Raye said. “Of the games that were played last week, I would dare say that there was anyone in the position I’m in that was flawless. So, what could I have done better? I could have maybe had a better plan. I could maybe have made some better decisions. Hopefully the ones that I made were the correct ones. You hope they play out that way. Because of that there are any number of things that you always think back on when you lose that you could have done better. And if you don’t, then you probably shouldn’t be in the game.”
Raye said he approved of Smith bringing up the problems with the calls getting in on time, which Singletary initially understood as being caused by Smith’s headset malfunctioning. On Monday, Singletary changed his tune.
Smith said it was a problem from time to time last season, too. He took over as starter from Shaun Hill on Oct. 25 at Houston.
The 49ers aren’t the only ones dealing with this.
Saints coach Sean Payton said Thursday they blew two timeouts in their opening 14-9 win over the Minnesota Vikings, a rematch of last season’s NFC championship game.
“You just want the quarterback to have enough time, not to feel hurried. We had a couple of similar issues. Last week, we had to burn a timeout twice. I was late getting plays in and it ended up hurting us. I think it’s fairly common in Week 1.”