49ers excited about explosive new offensive

The San Francisco 49ers loaded up on explosive new weapons for

offensive coordinator Greg Roman during the offseason. He’s already

having a blast deciding how to use them.

The 49ers put on full pads Sunday for the first time in training

camp, and everywhere Roman looked, he saw newcomers who promise to

add fresh dimensions to San Francisco’s offense and what Roman can

do with it this season.

Wide receivers Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and A.J. Jenkins

darted around catching passes. Running backs Brandon Jacobs and

LaMichael James brought new bursts of power and speed out of the

backfield.

All figure to have an impact this year in an upgraded San

Francisco offense that finished 26th last season in the NFL

rankings, lagging behind the team’s outstanding defensive and

special teams units that carried the 49ers to the NFC championship

game.

Now it’s up to Roman to determine who goes where and who does

what. He’s letting the competition that’s playing out in practice

decide for him.

”There’s definitely always some competitive excitement when you

start thinking about how this is all going to look together and how

it’s going to piece together,” Roman said Sunday. ”What’s going

to be best for our team, and we’re trying to create depth at the

same time. Adding those news guys, it definitely adds a different

dimension to things.”

Roman is getting a different perspective now that the

competition has gone to the next level after the 49ers began summer

camp with two days of practices without pads.

There is a certain urgency for San Francisco to take the next

step as an offense and improve on last year’s performance when the

team struggled in the red zone and ranked 29th in the league in

passing yards.

That’s why practically all of San Francisco’s top offseason

acquisitions play offensive skill positions. Roman and coach Jim

Harbaugh raved about all the newcomers during the team’s spring

workouts. But this stage of summer camp is when the true

evaluations really begin.

”It’s real football now and you start to get an indication of

things,” Roman said. ”We’re not running around in our underwear.

Now everybody reveals themselves on the field because of the

contact. This is when you really, really start to get to evaluate

players. It’s very exciting, and we’ll evaluate it as we go.”

There’s a noticeable upgrade in team speed provided by Moss and

Manningham, who joined the team as free agents, and Jenkins and

James, San Francisco’s first two selections in the NFL draft.

Moss already is being considered the team’s No. 1 receiver

alongside holdover starter Michael Crabtree, San Francisco’s

leading receiver last season with 73 catches. Manningham appears to

have the inside track as the No. 3 receiver. And while Jenkins at

this point is just battling to find his niche in the rotation,

Harbaugh made it clear what the team’s expectations are for its

first-round draft pick.

Harbaugh made an unscheduled and unusual trip to the podium

during Sunday’s interview session, a move he felt was necessary

because of a perceived slow start by Jenkins and some criticism the

young receiver has received recently in the media.

”To update you on the status of A.J. Jenkins and that topic,”

Harbaugh began. ”A.J. Jenkins was an outstanding football player

before he got here, and his progress has been very, very good and

exceeded expectations. For those scribes, pundits, so-called

experts who have gone as far as to say that he’s going to be a bust

. should just stop. They’re making themselves look more foolish.

I’ll go on record: A.J. Jenkins is going to be an outstanding

football player.”

There certainly is room for improvement among San Francisco’s

wide receivers, who combined had just one catch for 3 yards in

January’s overtime loss to the New York Giants in the NFC title

game.

The new firepower at the position could also help the team in

other areas, as will the addition of Jacobs, James and free-agent

fullback Rock Cartwright in the backfield.

That trio could help take some of the pressure and workload off

three-time Pro Bowl back Frank Gore, who last season became the

franchise’s all-time leading career rusher but also saw his

production wane as the season progressed.

The 49ers are expecting the new weapons to also complement

talented tight end Vernon Davis, the team’s top receiving threat of

recent seasons. Despite remaining productive, Davis has seen his

receiving numbers decline the past two years after his breakout Pro

Bowl season of 2009.

”They’re just all tremendous talents that will bring a lot of

value to the team and will really help us,” Davis said. ”To me,

the more help we can get, the better off we’ll be, and I’m all

about it. It’s a big deal because all those guys are extremely

dangerous weapons that we’ll be able to use. It will help me out to

probably get open more than ever, and I’m sure we (tight ends) can

help them (receivers) out as well getting those guys open.”

That’s the way the 49ers are hoping it will play out this

summer. Through the opening days of training camp, nobody’s

complaining.

”The guys that we brought in are doing a great job,” Roman

said. ”It’s nothing but positive. I’m sure the offense will be

better by the additions and what they can bring to the table.”