Two-minute at any time

At any minute, the 49ers could pull out their two-minute. That's one of the new wrinkles coach Dennis Erickson plans to hit opponents with this season as the Niners attempt to add some zest to their offense and produce a more unpredictable attack.

The Niners normally spend the final portion of their morning training camp practices working on their standard playbook during 11-on-11 team drills. But on Monday, that time was spent entirely brushing up on their hurry-up offense.

It's all a part of Erickson's plan to be more aggressive and keep opponents off-balance. And it's something that could be employed to shake up San Francisco opponents at virtually any point of any quarter.

"That's something that's not out of the realm of possibility of doing any time during the football game," Erickson said.

Erickson is introducing several new wrinkles this year to San Francisco's established West Coast offensive system, which some thought was growing tired and stagnant last year under former coach Steve Mariucci.

The Niners want to push the ball downfield more often with a vertical passing attack. But to do so, Erickson said, will require subtle strategic maneuvers during the course of a game. The occasional two-minute drill dropped unexpectedly on opponents in the middle of a game can only help with the element of surprise.

"Every place I've been, I've done it at times," Erickson said. "When we get in the games, I might do it the second time we get the football, I might only do it for one series. But it just kind of gets the tempo going offensively. Because it limits what you can do defensively. So you kind of see some pretty good opportunities there."

The two-minute drill can fit almost anywhere in a game for the 49ers because of the team's experienced offensive personnel. The Niners return all 11 starters on that side of the ball, and most are veterans who've had several years in the San Francisco system.

The Niners also have Jeff Garcia running the show. There is no hesitancy to hand the offense in a rush to the cool quarterback who has seen his season end in the Pro Bowl the past three years.

"In the two-minute drill," offensive coordinator Greg Knapp said, "you can just sort of turn it over to him. ‘Here, I give you the personnel group and you go call the plays.' You can do that with Jeff. He's got great command of the knowledge of the system and it's nice to see him just take full advantage of it."

Just like the Niners plan on taking full advantage of opposing defenses this season.


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