It’s referred to by fans around the NFL as the “Wildcat,” but offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye has a different name for the formation designed to stun opposing defenses – the “Taser.” It was the “Taser” that took center stage at the first of two Wednesday practices as the 49ers prepare to face the Denver Broncos in the first preseason game of the year.
“Since the pads have gone on, it was our first foray into it,” Raye said. “There are some things about it that are different for us. The initial introduction of it was very good and we got a good start on it.”
The 49ers are fortunate to have three former college quarterbacks on the roster in wide receivers Micheal Spurlock and Arnaz Battle and running back Michael Robinson. With Robinson still sidelined with a groin injury, Spurlock and Battle took the snaps from center.
“It’s very fun for me to get back on that horse again and be able to play around a little bit,” said Spurlock, the former Ole Miss signal caller. “I think it’s a copycat league. We’ve seen Miami and other teams do it and you have to have that in your arsenal now to make the defense honest. That’s something we’re doing and we look pretty good doing it.”
Raye also used the Wildcat formation when he was with the New York Jets, utilizing wide receiver and former Missouri quarterback Brad Smith in the backfield. Similar to Smith, Raye sees a lot of potential in players like Spurlock who have enough speed and versatility to threaten defenses when they have the ball in their hands.
“He has great initial quickness,” Raye noted about Spurlock. “He is a pass threat. The combination of those things and the fact that he is a punt returner and can run with the ball, gives you a little bit more flexibility.”
For Spurlock, running the Taser puts him in a very comfortable position.
“At quarterback you’re in charge of things, so when you’re back there you get to put everybody in position and tell them when to go,” Spurlock said. “It’s all on you and you always get to touch the ball at the quarterback position, so I like that part of it.”
However, Spurlock doesn’t necessarily look the part when under center. At just 5-10, he may not have the height to see over the offensive line, but it’s also something Spurlock can use to his advantage.
“From a quarterback standpoint, there are times when the passing lanes are restricted and you would like him a little bit taller,” Raye said. “In that phase of it, his initial quickness is a real big plus for him. Behind those big guys it is kind of hard to find him, then all of a sudden he spurts out of there and he has enough juice to hurt you and go a long way.”
It’s that breakaway speed that Raye can utilize in a variety of ways, which could ultimately help Spurlock earn a spot on the 53-man roster.
“Whatever they want me to do, I want to do it 120 percent,” Spurlock said. “Whether it’s quarterback, receiver or if they need me to go kick, I’m trying to do whatever it takes to make this team.”
Spurlock and Battle didn’t take all the snaps at quarterback as both Alex Smith and Shaun Hill managed to squeeze in a few touchdown plays of their own.
During 7-on-7 drills, Smith rolled to his right and found Vernon Davis in the back corner of the end zone. Davis leaped up for the ball, tapping down two feet before going out of bounds.
Hill wasted no time when going to team drills, heaving a deep pass to wide receiver Josh Morgan who beat the coverage of Nate Clements and Michael Lewis.
Bear Pascoe also made a nice catch, turning to catch a pass from Damon Huard that was thrown to his back shoulder.
Tags: Arnaz Battle, jimmy Raye, Micheal Spurlock
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