- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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For $5 million a season, San Francisco fans are expecting Harbaugh to turn water into wine, or help Alex Smith become a more consistent passer—either miracle will do. At Stanford, Harbaugh guided one of the nation's most balanced attacks. Most of the buzz last season was about quarterback Andrew Luck, who finished as the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. But the previous year running back Toby Gerhart rushed for 1,871 yards and also finished second in the Heisman race. Niners fans hope Harbaugh can work his wonders with Smith, who has decent weapons at his disposal but possesses a frightening career completion percentage (57.1).
Fantasy owners will love Jackson if he can duplicate Oakland's—and Darren McFadden's—success from last year, when he served as the team's offensive coordinator. After having spent two years working with the Baltimore quarterbacks, Jackson seemed to solve the Raiders' offensive woes overnight in 2010. With Jackson calling the plays, the Raiders more than doubled their offensive-points total of '09. Imagine what he can do now that he has total command.
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR RAMS
In Denver, McDaniels transformed the Broncos into one of the NFL's top passing units, making stars out of players other teams had given up on, such as quarterback Kyle Orton and wideout Brandon Lloyd. The Rams hope he can help young quarterback Sam Bradford reach his potential, as well as find St. Louis's version of Lloyd. (Mike Sims-Walker, perhaps?) Most important McDaniels should bring a vertical component to a Rams offense that ranked 30th in passing yards per attempt (6.0) last season.
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR CHIEFS
The soon-to-be 69-year-old Muir was asked to run Kansas City's offense in the wake of Charlie Weis's departure. It's a position Muir has held only once before, despite 29 years of NFL coaching experience, much of which has been spent working with offensive lines. It's likely that the Chiefs will rely on him to operate the running game, leaving head coach Todd Haley to focus on the development of the aerial attack.