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New 49ers offensive coordinator earns high marks

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Dan Arkush
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Posted Oct. 02, 2010 @ 12:46 p.m. ET
By Dan Arkush

The heavy drama continues in Niners Nation.

With head coach Mike Singletary reversing course and deciding to cut the cord with Jimmy Raye, Mike Johnson has become the Niners’ eighth offensive coordinator in eight seasons.

The way we hear it, Johnson, who was previously the team’s QB coach, was on track to become the offensive coordinator next season even if the 64-year-old Raye had been retained this season.

There had been widespread speculation that Johnson was the “rat in the building” that Singletary referred to in the wake of a Yahoo! Sports report that went into great detail about Raye’s ineffectiveness as a play-caller in the Niners’ jaw-dropping, season-opening 31-6 loss to the Seahawks.
But sources close to the scene beg to differ, suggesting that the Yahoo! tipster had to have been someone other than Johnson, who couldn’t have been the culprit since he was not in the coaching booth with Raye.

Truth be told, Singletary apparently thinks very highly of Johnson, as does pretty much everybody connected with the team.

“It seems like a positive move,” said one team insider. “The star players all like him. Frank Gore talks to him a lot, and Vernon Davis couldn’t be more excited.”

As for Raye, while he was well-respected for the most part, the fact he ruled the offense with an iron fist and had a knack for making changes in the game plan without consulting his extremely qualified assistant coaches was one big problem that Singletary decided to nip in the bud.

“I know that Mike will do a great job of involving every coach on the offensive staff and making sure that everyone has input and it’s a collaborative effort,” Singletary said. “And I know he will work his tail off to make this the best offense that it can possibly be.

“So I’m excited about that.”

Whether the offense becomes more balanced and not so geared toward the run-oriented, smashmouth approach that Singletary has made such a point of emphasizing remains to be seen.

But team sources believe that Johnson, who actually took a year off from coaching to study the spread offense, will opt for a much more creative, balanced offensive philosophy.

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