The San Francisco 49ers offense has changed a lot this offseason. From the new personnel on the roster to a full training camp, the team hopes to be more dynamic and versatile on offense. Up against the team with the best regular season record last season in the Green Bay Packers, the 49ers will definitely need to play well on both sides of the ball in order to pick up a big win in Week 1.
New to the offense this year will be the read option with backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick. More than just the team's No. 2 quarterback, Kaepernick's speed makes him a great threat in this role and could be a factor on Sunday. Starter Alex Smith was also used sparingly in this formation with varying success last year.
The only quarterback in NCAA history with three straight 1,000-yard rushing season, Kaepernick is known for his ability to run the ball. He recently showcased his abilities in the 49ers' first preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings, running around the right end for a 78-yard touchdown. With just one play during an exhibition game, the 49ers added another element to their game that added to the Packers' defensive game plan.
"It's something that you have to prepare for," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "It's like any other scheme. You have to put your time in.
"We feel fortunate that we have extra time to prepare for the 49ers. We're confident that with all of our adjustments we're ready to go."
While any running back could be placed alongside Kaepernick in the read option, the inclusion of rookie LaMichael James is what gives this formation more credibility. During his time at Oregon, he frequently had many big runs on read-option plays, making him a natural for this role. With Brandon Jacobs questionable for the game, James will most likely be activated for his first regular season action and get a chance to run the read option with Kaepernick.
With the 49ers once again focusing their offensive attack on the run, it makes sense for them to add the read option to their repertoire. Whether they use it for just one play in a game or go an entire offensive drive with Kaepernick at quarterback, the read option gives the 49ers another way to advance against their opponent on the ground. Given Kaepernick's improvements this preseason and the inclusion of the speedy James, this could be a common sight throughout the season.
While it is another wrinkle to their offensive playbook, the 49ers will likely only go for this option setup once or twice against the Packers unless it pans out. Just a small aspect of the 49ers offense, they'll likely stick to their regular personnel for most plays against a very tough Week 1 opponent.
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Austin Chang is a lifelong football fan, San Francisco 49ers supporter, and a Featured Contributor for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @_austinchang.
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