INDIANAPOLIS—Mike McCarthy was preceded at the podium on Friday by 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh. Had Harbaugh hung around for a few minutes, he would’ve found out his team will be the focus of the Packers’ offseason.
“We need to do a better job of stopping the read option,” McCarthy said. “San Francisco beat us twice and they’ll definitely be the focus of our offseason.”
McCarthy has become famous in his scouting combine press conferences for setting targets of improvement for his teams. Two years ago, he challenged his offense to score more points; it did. Last year, he wanted the Packers’ running game to improve; it was headed in that direction until Cedric Benson was lost to an injury a month into the season.
On Friday, McCarthy targeted the read-option offense, which the 49ers used to hang 579 yards of offense on the Packers in the playoffs. Coach Harbaugh might find that his quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, will be an offseason target in more than just Green Bay.
“Five seventy-nine is a number that’ll stick in our focus. Our defensive staff is going to take a trip to Texas A&M,” McCarthy said.
At Texas A&M, Packers Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers’ staff will work with A&M Head Coach Kevin Sumlin in the principles of the read option and how to defense it.
“The extra gap is not accounted for because the quarterback is part of the equation in running the football. Football is a cycle and it’s very important to stay on the front side of that cycle. We’ll spend a lot of time on the read option, but we won’t run it with our quarterback,” McCarthy joked.
Improving the running game, a target the Packers missed in 2012, will continue to be an area of concentration in ’13.
“There’s definitely room for improvement. Our attempts have improved but we can still run it more. It’s an area of focus. We definitely need to do a better job,” McCarthy said of the Packers running game.
“I don’t pay a lot of creed that you need to run it as much as you throw it, particularly with our quarterback. The attempts are the body blows.”
Change of culture is also an issue on which McCarthy touched.
“You don’t replace Charles Woodson and Donald Driver. Locker room culture is either growing or not growing. We have a very healthy culture,” McCarthy said. “Aaron Rodgers is now the longest-tenured Packer. He embraces the role of being the face of the franchise. Randall Cobb took a big step as a young leader last year. Leadership is top to bottom. We need to do a better job of that.”
Mostly, the Packers will be focusing on doing a better job of stopping the read-option offense. Additional coverage - Friday at the combine