Next on the operating table is Moran Norris. Some might say, “Who cares about him?” Or something similarly disdainful, perhaps more graphically expressed.
But Norris is indeed worthy of discussion in this series of scathing frowning critiques of the 49ers. Frank Gore loves him. Mike Singletary and Jimmy Raye probably love him. I wouldn’t bet against, shudder, Tom Rathman liking him, too. And that’s the problem. I can’t think of a single fan who wants this guy on the team, but he’s quite likely to be on it anyway. And on the field during games.
If he is, IMHO, we’re wasting a roster spot and purposefully dulling the possibilities of the dynamic offense that seems available with the stable of WRs that will be on the roster. Some of these talents will not be used, simply to get Norris on the field to bang heads more or less helpfully. He is becoming the grisly symbol of the SCO mentality that we have yet to see purged from the tender caresses of Singletary and Raye. The more he is on the field, the more we are telling our opponent that we do not harbor illusions of blowing his ass off the field and will instead try to beat him up and win by three effing points.
To exacerbate matters, Raye sometimes actually throws this clodhopper a swing pass or has him carry the football. It is supposed to shock opponents and gain three yards, which is the limit of Norris’ forward movement potential. The fact that actually using him as a weapon is considered a surprise maneuver simply underscores the point that he is generally a useless turkey. Not to be unreasonably gluttonous here, but personally I would prefer to shock opponents by throwing a pass to a 4th WR we stunningly inserted into the game once or twice a year.
I mean, we might very well have Dominique Zeigler, Jason Hill, Ted Ginn, and maybe Kyle Williams, all extensively tested during TC and pre-season, reduced to standing on the sidelines week after week not doing a damn thing while Norris is out there trying to knock a dent in the opponent’s front wall. When he is out there, the opponent is less nervous than he would be with one of our players who performs beyond the line of scrimmage, rather than almost entirely behind it, as Norris does.
Beyond having this one dimensional fellow actually on the field for significant minutes of the game is the psychological factor associated with the mentality of our coaches. I would put this responsibility on Singletary, not Raye. Raye seems capable of running any kind of offense the HC wants to run. He’s presided over passing teams and running teams. What he doesn’t have is the big time rep, like Mike Martz has, that is necessary to run whatever offensive scheme he damn well chooses to run.
So, in a sense, Norris is a Big Ass Clue what kind of offense we are going to run this year. If he is only on the field when it is fourth and one and here we come right behind Mike Iupati for that in your face yard and an inch, then fine. No problemo. But if he is a standard part of the base offense, this team will not be scary good. It will be setting its scoreboard sights low. It will never shift into 4th gear. It will indicate Singletary does not trust the offense to discover its own identity. It means he will again be forcing an identity upon them. Perhaps the old linebacker head knows what’s best. Or perhaps he’s just stubborn and unwilling to give to his team what he demands from them: having faith. Believing in his players as much as they believe in him.
Will Norris cost us any games this year? No one will ever know. Will he significantly help us win any games this year? Hmmmmmmm.
Below, some highlights from the SCO offense in its early, developmental years.