SANTA CLARA (CBS/AP) — New San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman is cramming a whole lot of work into a small amount of time.
So far, the transition seems to be going well.
Roman doesn’t expect that to change, either, after San Francisco signed free-agent center Jonathan Goodwin to a three-year deal on Wednesday.
“We’re throwing a lot at these guys and they’re taking it all in,” Roman said. “I grabbed Vernon Davis’ notebook the other day and it looked like ‘War and Peace’ he had so much written down. Guys are really dialed in, and that’s what we need.”
Roman, who joined the 49ers this year after working on new coach Jim Harbaugh’s staff at Stanford for the past two seasons, has been putting his players through a daily cram session since training camp began last week.
It hasn’t been easy because San Francisco hasn’t had its full complement of players.
Running back Frank Gore missed the first four days of camp in a holdout, and wide receiver Michael Crabtree hasn’t been able to practice because of a sore left foot.
Quarterback Alex Smith has been prevented from joining his teammates until Thursday—providing a final collective bargaining agreement is reached.
None of those obstacles has slowed down Roman one bit.
The burly assistant, who previously coached in the NFL with Carolina, Houston and Baltimore, has kept San Francisco’s players hopping on the field and scribbling in their notebooks in the classroom.
“I’ve never had to learn so much at one time,” said Davis, San Francisco’s leader in receptions and touchdowns in 2010. “They’re just throwing it all on us, but that’s a good thing. The more they throw on you the more you expect from yourself.”
San Francisco went through offensive coordinators Jimmy Raye and Mike Johnson last season, and neither had much success. The 49ers ranked 24th in total yards and were held to 10 points or fewer in four games.
Roman is trying to fix that with a little more creativity.
“There’s a lot to it, shifting, and the concepts are different,” Davis said. “Everybody’s learning at the moment. You can’t really get into your own right now because you’re focused, you’re trying to concentrate on the plays, you’re trying not to mess up.”
Goodwin’s signing—which came shortly after the team announced the signings of cornerback Charles Rogers and safety Madieu Williams—helps shore up a position that had been in flux after David Baas signed with the New York Giants.
Goodwin started 45 games the past three seasons with New Orleans after being primarily a backup his first six NFL years.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees said it was “extremely important” his team re-sign the 6-foot-3, 320-pound Goodwin, who instead will now play for New Orleans’ former division rivals.
“Jonathan’s an experienced guy, a very sharp guy,” Roman said. “We’re looking forward to getting him in the mix. It’s going to be great competition.”
The move frees up Alex Snyder to go back to guard. Snyder had been taking the majority of reps at center in camp after last year’s starter, Baas, joined the Giants. San Francisco also released center Eric Heitmann in June after he underwent neck surgery.
Rogers spent the past six seasons in Washington and had 43 tackles and two interceptions in 2010. Chosen No. 9 overall in the 2005 draft, the 30-year-old Rogers is likely to replace Nate Clements, who was released by the 49ers in a cost-cutting move last week.
Williams played for Minnesota the past three seasons but was largely a disappointment with the Vikings after joining the team following a four-year stint with Cincinnati. Williams, who was due to make $5.4 million this season, made 50 tackles with one interception last season.
Neither was able to practice with their new team, but Williams doesn’t think it will be too difficult to catch up.
“They’re still installing, so no one has any advantage,” he said. “It’s just a matter of guys getting up to speed and transferring the classroom work out to the field.”
San Francisco also signed linebacker Blake Costanzo to help on special teams. Costanzo played the past two seasons in Cleveland for current 49ers special teams coach/assistant head coach Brad Seely.
Note: Free agent WR Braylon Edwards visited the 49ers facility, but there was no word whether the 49ers offered him a contract.
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