49ers Return Staple Of WCO
August 12 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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If one thing is evident this summer, it’s that with Eric Johnson manning the tight end position, the 49ers have brought back a key staple of the West Coast Offense. Still the most prevalent offense across the NFL, the WCO fathered by Bill Walsh has many variations of the parent offense. With the emergence of Eric Johnson as an every-down pass-catching tight end, the 49ers have gone back to their routes.
Bill Walsh has been the mastermind behind the 49ers on and off for the past three decades. Walsh certainly remains a key figure in the 49ers organization, even now in his ‘consultant’ role. No surprise hear, it was Walsh who pressed the 49ers strongly into drafting Johnson last off-season in the seventh round. Johnson, nick named “Walsh’s Son” for exactly that reason has once again proved why Walsh owns the title of “Genius”.
So while Walsh no longer coaches the team, he certainly remains an influence. Walsh has stated for a long time that the 49ers need to get back to the foundations of the West Coast Offense, and with Eric Johnson, the 49ers are one step closer. The next key step will be relying less on three receiver sets, and more on the traditional two receiver sets. The advantage to this change in formation is that it gives fewer hints to the defense at to whether the team intends to run or pass.
Now entering his second season, Eric Johnson has emerged as a safety blanket for Jeff Garcia. Not only does he help keep Garcia on his feet, but he always seems to be open when Garcia gets into trouble. While Johnson has a long way to go before he can be compared to the former 49ers great, Brent Jones, Johnson does posses a lot of the same characteristics, and should prove to be as integral a part of the team as Jones once did.