When 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman first implemented the “pistol formation” to accomodate quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s skill set, the news wasn’t taken favorably. Just ask running back Frank Gore, “I just felt like that’s not real football at first.” Whether Gore liked it or not, the 49ers decided to add it anyways, and as a result now find themselves headed to the Super Bowl. Gore was asked after Sunday’s NFC Championship win, if he liked the pistol now, and his response, “I love it!”
How can he not? Gore has since flourished under the pistol formation, especially in the playoffs, as he’s rushed for 209 yards and three touchdowns, through the first two playoff games this year. His ability to hit the hole by utilizing his downhill running style allows Gore to gain valuable yardage between the tackles, while catching defenses off guard.
Apparently, everyone is having some form of success using the unorthodox pistol formation. Rookie running back LaMichael James ran the read-option at Oregon, and continues to look like a natural in that scheme, evidenced by his 15-yard touchdown run, to jump start the 49ers offense in yesterday’s win. The new scheme is not only benefiting the running backs but the receivers as well.
In Michael Crabtree’s last seven games (including the playoffs), he has racked up 714 yards and six touchdowns, while playing at a Pro Bowl level. He’s arguably the hottest receiver left in the playoffs, and looks like he’s finally hitting his stride. Tight-end Vernon Davis is also catching fire with the offense as of late, by recording five receptions for 106 yards and one touchdown, in yesterday’s NFC Championship win.
With Harbaugh tailoring his offense to the team’s strengths, it clearly shows why he’s the true players’ coach. No matter who is behind center, he always puts his players in the best position to make plays, and the “pistol” is no exception. We have to give credit where credit is due, so kudos to Harbaugh and his coaching staff, for adjusting to his personnel.
However, as the 49ers turn their focus to the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII, they will need to add some wrinkles to the pistol formation, if they hope to have any success against Ray Lewis and company.
And with genius offensive coordinator “G-Ro” (Greg Roman) being a hot commodity as a future NFL coach, look for him to bust out all the aces up his sleeve.