Some of you have written in saying I was too harsh on Greg Roman when I fired him in my column — not that I actually have the power to fire anyone except my gardener. I do believe Roman is not up to the Niners’ standard of coaches. Having said that — and with some prompting by Zohn reader Dennis — I want to point out that the failures of the Niners’ offensive game plan — and there have been failures — ultimately are on Jim Harbaugh. He’s the head coach and he’s an offensive guy and he’s supposed to have major input with Roman. It sure seemed on Monday like he was absolving himself and putting all the blame on Roman — except, of course, he took responsibility (whatever that means) for allowing that crummy pitch play to get run. But he made it clear he did not call it. Plenty of blame to go around here. And no, I’m not firing Harbaugh. That should make him feel relieved.

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  1. RednGold1

    College football and NFL football are just not the same.
    (I know. That fact is stated by many people every day.)
    Anyway, I think we’re seeing some of that difference not only in Kaep, but also in Harbaugh and his hand picked coaches.

    That is to say that Kaep, Harbaugh and other coaches are still in transition to the NFL style and level of play. We call it growing pains.

    Hopefully, we don’t look back at 2012 and say, “That was only a growing year.” But, hey, if we do, so be it. The team is better with Kaep under center and Harbaugh as coach. Growing pains notwithstanding.

    December 4th, 2012 9:16 am

  2. Streetglide

    It’s all good. Everyone take a breath. Watching the Giants/Indigenous People game last night I saw true fans in the stands and a level of energy by both teams on the field the Niners rarely if ever exhibit…

    December 4th, 2012 9:29 am

  3. Dr. Feelgood

    What jumps out is that as prepared the Rams were, as good as they played, as well as they executed, The Niners were in control of the game. The Rams didn’t win as much as the Niners wilted under pressure and gave it away.
    How does a Defense pitch a shutout and lose?
    That’s on the coaching staff.

    December 4th, 2012 9:36 am

  4. Osprey

    Hello Lowell,

    I realize this is a digression, but why aren’t the Niners running some variation of the Pistol offense, at least some of the time? Just look at Washington, and the success of RGIII in a pistol offense part time. Kaepernick is proficient in it!

    December 4th, 2012 9:56 am

  5. Carlos

    I agree with the fire Roman premise, though it may be harsh. It felt like he was calling plays as if Colin was coming in for his wildcat package. The 49ers are clearly better than the Rams. If Roman ran the basic WCO playbook with slants and dump offs they win the game easily. The Rams were taking away the long ball, and their corners could not cover the WRs on slants. Fisher is a good coach and you don’t beat him with gimmicks. The 49ers have the better talent, keep it simple and use that talent to win.

    December 4th, 2012 10:00 am

  6. CohnZohn

    Osprey, The 49ers do run a pistol offense with Kaepernick some of the time.

    December 4th, 2012 10:07 am

  7. Stan

    “Responsibility”..as I best recall that became cliche when Lawyers taught misbehaving celebrities to do that mea culpa to impress judges,avoid jail time and get into rehab.
    Then the sports people-next in line to the celebrity life- picked up with that term and ran with it.
    Some seem like they cant wait to say it. Next is, “At the end of the day ,I take responsibility”…

    December 4th, 2012 10:25 am

  8. Brady

    I would rather have Harbaugh do some serious thinking/evaluating, and talk with Roman, rather than fire him. Roman has been behind some truly genius game plans – Buffalo, Detroit, New Orleans last year, etc. – but then also falls flat on his face. It seems as though Roman has all the tools to be a great OC, but far too often is caught experimenting and trying new things that he shouldn’t be doing.

    December 4th, 2012 10:34 am

  9. Alex

    Roman and Co. need to accept that you can’t always “get in the run formation and run,” or “get in the pass formation and pass.”

    We need more 4 and 5 wide sets. When a team is rushing 3-4 guys and dropping the rest into coverage, and you STILL CANT RUN, why not go 5 wide with routes all over the field?

    At least it gives you a higher likelyhood of generating an open receiver, even by accident.

    December 4th, 2012 11:13 am

  10. Steve the cat rescuer

    FYI, Radnich and Krueger (especially Krueger) are ripping you for your Fire Roman column. Comes with the territory, I guess. But the next time those two know-it-alls know it all is when I win the Powerball jackpot. Hate to repeat myself, but I don’t see any marked difference in the game plans between Smith and Kap, and I think Smith runs the offense under this type of game plan better than Kap. Harbaugh better hope they perform well and win against Miami, or this season could be heading for the dumper considering their remaining schedule.

    December 4th, 2012 11:33 am

  11. Tiburon Dave

    The question that Coach Roman needs to answer has to to with his inability to make Vernon Davis a featured part of the offense.

    We had a tight end around here who owned seam and post routes for most of a decade…and with respect to Mr. Jones…Vernon Davis has far more physical talent…

    How can Vernon Davis not be a featured part of the offense?

    All this reminds me of the day Eddie D fired Marc Trestman on live television…

    December 4th, 2012 11:57 am

  12. Dennis

    I don’t think there was a problem with the game plan or the play calling. I think the problem was and is that Harbaugh thinks Kaepernick is more ready than he is. He is a great athlete with a great arm. He reminds me of Randall Cunningham or Michael Vick. Neither of those great athletes made it to the Super Bowl I might add.

    The reason I am suggesting that Kaepernick shouldn’t be starting is because, while he admittedly looks better out there, his stats aren’t any better. At the very least they are not enough of an improvement to justify taking the risk that comes along with playing an experienced quarterback. Yards per game, yards per catch, win percentage, completion percentage, quarterback rating… you name it. (You can argue about some of the statistics if you want but you know point I am making.) For all his fine looks, for all his maneuverability, speed, arm, statistically he isn’t better than Smith has been this season.

    Harbaugh takes full responsibility and he should. But his fault does not lie in game planning or play calling. Alex doesn’t lose that game to the Rams simply because he would not have made the mistakes Kaeperncik made. The 49ers lost that game because of poor execution by the quarterback. But he sure did look good.

    December 4th, 2012 12:12 pm

  13. Gopal

    I enjoy Roman’s offense with all of its weird shifts and play action plays.

    It makes a power-running, downhill team look a lot more interesting and varied than it really is.

    It makes you pay close attention to substitutions between plays, and it forces you to account for ever eligible receiver on every play.

    However, it cannot prevent players from mishandling the ball , dropping passes or getting badly beaten on protection assignments.

    December 4th, 2012 12:51 pm

  14. mark decker

    I’d like you to expand upon your roman is inferior theory….is it based just on play calling? as for the rams game( and for SO much of the season) I think he was handicapped….first with alex as qb he had to work overtime to get guys wide open for alex to pull the trigger…so had to be so majorly creative…look at the games we have lost? its when this above and beyond creativity wasnt there….now against the rams…the system is built on deception/shifts/formation changes….with two KEY guys hunter and to a lesser extent williams( just being in on alot of snaps) they had to go vanilla( sadly lemichael james cant pick up the playbook and brandon jacobs is a straight back up to gore not an additional back)….so give roman a break for rams game…the guys will be more prepared( back ups that is) and we willl be more dynamic sunday….as for the pitch call…yeah a horrible call…but the play action to delanie in end zone was a very dynamic call….stuff happens….but I do respect your takes greatly so expand when you can on roman

    December 4th, 2012 1:31 pm

  15. C. Nova

    Yeah Lowel, 8-3-1, fire everyone! Roman, might not be the best OC in the NFL, but once you are the king of overreaction. After years and years of bad O-play, Roman should get some credit for the last 2 yrs of winning football, making a functional qb out of Alex Smith, and, helping Kap look great in his first 2 games.

    December 4th, 2012 1:34 pm

  16. KauaiRobert

    You have a gardener?

    December 4th, 2012 2:58 pm

  17. Larry Rowe

    Lowell you seem to forget we are second in the NFC. He must be doing something right.

    It appears as if you are not a niner fan. You always seem to hate every descion that is made. When the descion is made that is similar to yours you call for benching and firing.

    I am excited with CK but AS is a better QB right now.

    December 4th, 2012 3:18 pm

  18. CohnZohn

    Tiburon Dave, Maybe Jed York will fire Greg Roman on live TV.

    December 4th, 2012 3:42 pm

  19. CohnZohn

    KauaiRobert, What, you don’t have a gardener?

    December 4th, 2012 3:52 pm

  20. CohnZohn

    Larry Rowe, Of course I’m not a Niner fan. You should know that. I cover the Niners and every other Bay Area team. I don’t root for them. Big difference.

    December 4th, 2012 3:52 pm

  21. Raffaele

    Harry Truman had it on his desk: “The buck stops here.” That should be writ large on the wall in the Harbaugh office.

    Harbaugh and his crew have been outcoached in recent games. Largely the other teams have figured out how to defend the 49ers, and how to beat the Niners’ superior defense. Harbaugh hired all those assistant coaches and he has final say in what they propose.

    This is nowhere more evident than in his dogged determination that Kapernick should start the next game. That crummy play where the Rams scored should not have been called by Roman and should not have been approved by Harbaugh. Further, you can be sure Alex Smith would not have lateraled the ball as badly as did Kapernick. There was the signal that Kapernick is not yet equal to being an NFL quarterback. Harbaugh needs to sallow his excessive self pride and get back to Smith.

    December 4th, 2012 4:09 pm

  22. KauaiRobert

    Well, if I think about it, I sort of have two gardeners, I guess.
    I call them ‘kids’ though…

    December 4th, 2012 5:14 pm

  23. chris

    Roman probably isn’t the best OC, but thats not the Santa Clara 49ers main problem. Until they get a veteran proven QB, they wont win a Super Bowl or even get there. Just think where’d they be if they had gotten Peyton Manning. Even with a Carson Palmer they’d be Super Bowl bound….sure Palmer throws some mysterious interceptions, but thats with a terrible offensive line and no running game. Put him on Santa Clara’s team and he doesn’t make those mistakes.

    December 4th, 2012 5:30 pm

  24. James Pete

    Lowell Cohn, ever so nice to hear from you again. I lost you somehow since the days of The Sporting Green.

    Also nice to hear about your take on 49er OC Roman. They may as well wait until the off season, for continuity’s sake, if nothing else. The coaching fraternity accepts all, winners and losers (statistically that’s about 50-50), as brothers. Indeed, when a losing coach, a real loser, changes jobs and becomes a real winner, those losses are looked on as “the learning process.”

    But you witnessed the Walsh era. He lost a lot of games, especially early. He made the most of being unpredictable. The 49ers are conservative and predictable.

    Field position is important, obviously, but it’s more of a bi-product than a cause of play selection. Usually it’s points that win the game.

    December 5th, 2012 3:21 am

  25. xodo

    Greg Roman should never have made that ultra stupid call that ended up losing a game they should have easily won. That being said, we still don’t have an answer to the key question:why didn’t Harbaugh veto the play immediately? Saying he was taking responsibility for it is meaningless unless he follows it with a resignation or with changing his OC.

    December 5th, 2012 7:24 am

  26. Alex

    It appears to me that Greg Roman has serious difficulty scheming against 4-3 teams.

    December 5th, 2012 1:50 pm

  27. Nancy R

    My rabbit Oreo is very curious about your garden….

    December 5th, 2012 3:14 pm

  28. CohnZohn

    Nancy R, We live on the side of a hill, so there’s plenty of wild stuff and bottle brush by the ton. Mrs. Cohn Zohn has a lovely herb garden.

    December 5th, 2012 3:53 pm

  29. eatMYcumulous

    Okay, I’ll be the devil’s advocate here. Maybe, just MAYBE the 49ers are not as great as we all thought they’d be.

    December 5th, 2012 9:04 pm

  30. Nancy R

    Rabbit Heaven!!

    December 6th, 2012 2:54 am

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