49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

January 7, 2008
Why SF? An OC's conundrum

Reports out of St. Louis say that the Rams also are interested in making Cam Cameron their offensive coordinator (What? Not Mike Martz?). In fact, it's likely that Cameron entertains several suitors before making a choice. Why would he, or any other OC candidate, want to come to San Francisco? How should Mike Nolan and the 49ers try to sell the position? Here are a few pros and cons to what once was the most enviable job in the NFL.

1. Total control of the offense. It's not like being at Baltimore in years' past with Brian Billick or in St. Louis with Scott Linehan, both of whom are offensive coaches. Mike Nolan is a defensive specialist who should give the incoming coordinator plenty of leeway to run the offense.

2. Future weapons. Sure, the 49ers aren't stacked like some other teams. But a good coordinator will look at the 49ers' roster and see that in Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker and Ashley Lelie, he has some weapons to work with. At the end of the season, it also looked like Joe Staley and Adam Snyder were taking over leadership duties on the offensive line. There's potential here.

3. Cap space. The 49ers have plenty of it - almost $20 million. A potential coordinator wants to know that the team is in building mode, not subtracting mode.

4. Room for improvement. The 49ers finished dead last in offense in 2007. Guess what - that means the incoming coordinator only can get better. Even if he improves the 49ers' offense to, say, 20th overall, he has done a marvelous job and has a gold star next to his name.

1. Better talent elsewhere. The Lions have two of the best young receivers in the league. The Rams have Torry Holt and Steven Jackson. And if Jason Garrett leaves for a head-coaching gig, the Cowboys - with T.O., Tony Romo and Jason Witten - will be looking for someone to lead their offense.

2. QB controversy. Nolan and the 49ers already have announced that Alex Smith will compete with Shaun Hill for the starting job (if they re-sign Hill). A third quarterback - either through free agency or the draft - will be tossed into the mix. Add the fact that Smith has huge trust issues with the head coach and it makes for a messy situation at the most important position on the team.

3. Who needs the money? Cameron and several other coaching candidates are still under contract with their previous teams, meaning they are still raking in the big bucks. Why rush back to work when you can spend the year at the ol' fishing hole (with Rashaun Woods)?

4. The umbrella of caution. Yes, the new coordinator may have total control of the offense, but he still must answer to Nolan and abide by his overall philosophy. A field goal will win it, Cam.

Lots of college guys to keep an eye on this evening. McCloughan gave me the seniors to watch earlier this year. I've also thrown in a few juniors who could be coming out.

No. 72 Glenn Dorsey DT
No. 9 Early Doucet WR
No. 15 Matt Flynn QB
No. 18 Jacob Hester FB/RB
No. 7 Arlington (Ali) Highsmith OLB
No. 21 Chevis Jackson CB
No. 16 Craig Steltz SS
No. 89 Keith Zinger TE

Ohio State:
No. 74 Kirk Barton T
No. 50 Vernon Gholston DE (junior)
No. 6 Larry Grant OLB
No. 33 James Laurinaitis MLB (junior)
No. 80 Brian Robiskie WR (junior)

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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