Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Martz Should Improve Niners Pass Attack... But What About Gore?

Mike Martz is taking his horse and pony act to San Francisco where he will have the task of revitalizing one of the league's most inept offenses. Martz was named the 49ers' offensive coordinator today and will take over a young offense with several players who have the potential to be solid fantasy options. 

The Niners were riddled with injuries to key offensive personnel in 2007, most notably QB Alex Smith and TE Vernon Davis who each missed significant time during the course of the season. The arrival of Martz's pass-friendly offensive system should help Smith the most, giving him plenty of opportunities to put up healthy yardage and TD numbers. Smith could finish 2008 with middle tier QB numbers making him a serviceable #2 option. 

Davis has been terribly under-utilized in the Niners' conservative offense the past two seasons and will benefit greatly from added looks and touches. He should enter 2008 as a top 5 option at tight end after a respectable finish to his 2007 campaign. Another player to watch is Darrell Jackson who struggled mightily in 2007. A return to a pass-oriented offense friendly to smaller receivers, similar to Holmgren's system in Seattle where he flourished, should increase his 2008 output because lets be honest, he can't do any worse. 

While the guys involved in the Niners pass attack should become better fantasy options under Martz, I am not sure about Frank Gore. He was a consensus first round pick coming into the 2007 season following a big 2006 season. However, hobbled by injuries and stuck in an ineffective offense, Gore produced more like a 4th or 5th rounder.

A healthy Gore should easily top his 2007 output, but I worry about the way he will be used in Martz's offense. Dating back to his days with the Rams, Martz has had a tendency to forget about his running back (even with HOFer Marshall Faulk on the roster). This past season in Detroit, there were several games where the Lions seemingly did not attempt to run the ball at all. This is evidenced by the fact that Kevin Jones lead the team's RBs in carries with just 153.

Gore should be a substantial threat in point per reception leagues as Martz will certainly look to get him and his soft hands involved in the pass game. However, it will be interesting to see if Gore is given the 20 plus carries a game he has required to excel. 

To this end, I will leave you with a telling stat. Over the past two seasons, Gore has amassed 13 100 yard rushing games. In 11 of those games he was given 21 or more carries. 

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