At a press conference Friday night, the 49ers formally introduced Jim Harbaugh as their new head coach alongside new general manager Trent Baalke. After the formalities were over, the San Francisco media asked Harbaugh what sort of offense he’s bringing to the Bay Area.
“We will install the West Coast offense in San Francisco, birthplace of the West Coast offense,” he answered.
Harbaugh’s brand of offense was evident at Stanford in a system that involved a power running game spearheaded by Toby Gerhart, and frequent roll-out passes from quarterback Andrew Luck. The West Coast offense typically requires its passer to be athletic and accurate, and Luck fit the bill with a 70.7 completion rate last season and 453 rushing yards.
The Niners already have a power back in place in tackle-breaking runner Frank Gore, and 235-pound Anthony Dixon as a potential long-term backup. What Harbaugh doesn’t have is a quarterback. David Carr is the only option signed for 2011, and the 31-year-old seems likely to be cut due to a pricey $2.375 million salary.
Alex Smith and Troy Smith’s contracts will expire after the NFL playoffs.
Trade options Harbaugh and Baalke may consider include Green Bay backup Matt Flynn and Philadelphia No. 2 quarterback Kevin Kolb. Bucs backup Josh Johnson has also been heavily rumored as being on the trade block in previous years, and Harbaugh coached Johnson at the University of San Diego before leaving for Stanford.
The 49ers also hold the No. 7 overall pick, where athletic quarterbacks such as Cam Newton and Jake Locker may be available.