49ers Blog and Q&A

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

August 3, 2012
Frequency flyer: 49ers testing out new radio device today


Communication snafus between quarterback and offensive coordinator? Sure, the 49ers have had (loud throat clear) a few.

Two years ago, when Jimmy Raye the offensive coordinator, it wasn't unheard of for the offense to burn three timeouts in the first half because it took so long for the play calls enter the radio device in Alex Smith's helmet. That led to an explosive story by Yahoo! about the communication problems and to such 2010 buzzwords as "rat" and "dadgum Yahoo."

The technological glitches came to symbolize a coaching staff that was a tad out of touch with the times.

The issues improved dramatically last season, but new offensive coordinator Greg Roman said Thursday it wasn't perfect and that there were indeed problems with the technology itself.

"To make a long story short ... you'd push the button and you've got to wait," said Roman, whose calls are made from the coaching booth and relayed through an assistant on the sideline. "You hear a beep and then you can talk. That beep would sometimes be inconsistent. There was one time when I was doing it and it happened to be on the same frequency as an airline in a certain city and it was a critical situation in the game and all you hear is Southwest pilots talking."

To the relief of Roman and every other play caller, the NFL is implementing new - and the hopefully, better - equipment this year. The 49ers will use it during today's practice, which goes from noon to 3 p.m. Roman described the new system as easier to use and "more what you would expect in the year 2012."

The big question, however, is whether Roman helped land those Southwest flights. "No," he said. "Never checked to see if it got in."

-- 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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