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October 2, 2013
Read-option ready: Even Houston installed offensive package this offseason


The Houston Texans have one of the least athletically gifted starting quarterbacks in the NFL. But even they installed the read-option into their offense this offseason.

It wasn't because they wanted to give Matt Schaub an opportunity to run this season, coach Gary Kubiak explained this morning on a conference call. It's because the Texans looked at their schedule and saw two teams with read-option capabilities, Seattle and San Francisco, looming back to back and wanted to give their defense as much practice as possible.

"I just think it's something that's going on right now and something you have to work on," Kubiak said.

It's a good example of why the read option has been far less prevalent -- and less successful -- this season as opposed to last year. Teams like the 49ers certainly are leery of exposing their quarterbacks to big hits when they are on the run. More than that, however, it seems as if every opponent spent the offseason preparing to defend it. It's simply not catching any defenses off guard in 2013.

As a result, the read option has not been a big part of the 49ers' offense through the first four games. Still, Kubiak noted that an athletic quarterback doesn't necessarily have to be in the read option to do damage.

On Sunday, for instance, Seattle's Russell Wilson scrambled out of the pocket 10 times for 77 yards, picking up key first downs late in the game as the Seahawks made their comeback. "We faced it last week - drop back and think you're doing a good job in coverage and the (quarterback) runs all over the place and makes plays on you," Kubiak said. "So, we saw first hand what that can do to you last week, especially in the second half. And it will be much the same challenge this week."

Kubiak said that backups T.J. Yates and Case Keenum run their version of the read option and have been doing so for the past two weeks on the Texans' scout team. While both are more athletic than Schaub, neither was known for his running ability in college and neither is in the same scrambling category as Wilson and Colin Kaepernick.

Keenum, for example, averaged 0.6 yards a carry his senior season at Houston. Yates, meanwhile, ran the ball 79 times his final season at North Carolina and ended up with minus-77 yards. (Not a typo).

-- 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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