Thursday, November 18, 2010

Quick Scouting Report On The 49ers

NFLN happened to have the 49ers Vs Rams game on as one of its replay games this week. I wanted to share some of the things I saw. Remember however that this is just one game and so it doesn't mean what they did against the Rams they will do against the Bucs. But for the sake of argument I will also give some ideas on what I would do if the 49ers' game plan is similar this week.


- It appeared they almost exclusively pulled their left guard Mike Iupati. Not sure if they saw something about the Rams defense or if that's just how they roll but most of the power Os and traps were definitely to the defense's left.

- It was hard to tell which way the center would slide in pass protection. I would need to see more than one game in order to notice any tendencies, especially since the 49ers are such a run heavy team and even when they pass its not always or even usually out of shotgun. The one thing that was noticeable though is that the guards love to jump guys at the line of scrimmage and punch them.

- Starting left tackle Joe Staley is out and the guy backing him up for this game was evidently Tony Wragge who is listed as a backup center. It appears that veteran Barry Sims, who is the guy actually listed as Staley and who hasn't been active for a game all year, will get the start. From what I recall Sims has good feet but has never been a really strong guy.

- Troy Smith is mobile but he didn't look to take off running down the field much against the Rams. Rather he moved around in and outside the pocket to buy time to throw the ball down field.

- The 49ers use 2 tight ends quite a bit and they will run or pass with that personnel but they are especially good running the ball. They will put a tight end on either side of the formation and try to spread the defense wide and then run up inside or hit the backside edge and force the corner to make a tackle.


- I would use a lot of under defense this week, especially when there are 2 tight ends in the game. Under, or what some people call an Odd front, gives you three defenders on the line of scrimmage to the strong side. It also gives you a 3 technique and, if there's a tight end there, a six technique to the backside which helps to protect the backside edges. For a team that likes to run a lot of powers and traps it generally gives them fewer options and those plays a lower chance of success. Also because the 49ers feature tight end Vernon Davis so much that will allow the Bucs to keep their regular defense on the field a lot instead of having to go to nickel on early downs. That also means that our Sam linebacker will have the chance to get physical with him on the line of scrimmage on play action passes.

- I would throw the Pirate stunt out this week and instead use Over stick when I wanted to run a stunt. Because the guards jump the defensive tackles on play action pass the B gap is generally going to be wide open on the weakside and an Over stick gives the defense an opportunity to get quick pressure on Smith right off the snap. That's important because on early downs when the 49ers go play action pass they kept a lot of people in to help block against the Rams.

- I wouldn't run any TOM games this week because, again, it was hard to get a tendency on where the center would be sliding and if you guess wrong its probably not going to end up well.

- I WOULD run EX games on both sides. Again the guards short setting makes it a situation where they are on a different level with the offensive tackles who tend to be setting back and that's perfect for EX games. Also if you pressure the quarterback double ex games will probably force him outside rather than allowing him to scramble up the middle. That means Smith who doesn't really want to get down the field anyway will likely end up with only one side of the field to throw to. As long as the defenders know to stay back and cover and let the rush track him down unless he crosses the line of scrimmage it should be a win for the defense.

- Last week Rams defensive end Chris Long gave 49ers rookie left tackle Anthony Davis the business at the end of the game. The primary reason is because he had been setting him up all game. Davis has a soft set where he sets back, doesn't punch and basically just wants the rusher to get up field so he can ride them by. Long recognized this and instead bull rushed the hell out of him over and over at first. Then after Davis got tired of eating bull rushes and started sitting down in anticipation of them Long started beating him with speed rushes around the horn. At that point Davis was totally screwed and Long hit him with the spin move and left him standing in his tracks.

But the key is the bull rushes at the beginning which set everything else up. Now I don't know that the Bucs have a left end that can rush as well as Chris Long right now nor do I know that they will even be given an opportunity to do so. But my advice would be if they do get that chance to I'd tell them to run right up his numbers for most of the first half and then start breaking him down in the second half. Also there is something that Long does that I think all of the left ends on the roster would benefit from watching. That is how he escapes from a bull rush by keeping one arm straight to keep the guy off him and using the opposite hand to grab the blockers elbow or wrist and get it off of him. He looks a lot like Michael Strahan when he does it and its an excellent way to keep from getting stuck when you bull rush someone.

- Speaking of that the 49ers keep Davis in some to pass block at times and Long did an excellent job of rushing him. The key seemed to be to use power with him and then come off inside. The ends that tried to rush him outside ended up just getting washed by the quarterback.

- This would be a game when I would tell Gerald McCoy to make mostly outside moves. He can counter back inside at the level of the quarterback if he doesn't win at the line of scrimmage, but trying to make an inside move on the line of scrimmage this week is probably a fools errand with both guards short setting so much. Rip, run, and make them try to catch up with you.

- I would be very disappointed with Stylez G. White if makes many pure speed moves this week. I don't know how well Sims will be as a blocker but the inside move is going to be there regardless on account of how the guards block down inside. And even if Sims is giving up the outside rush, Smith is going to step up in the pocket so he won't be there even if White wins. Bull rushes and inside moves, bull rushes and inside moves, bull rushes and inside moves. That would be my plan for him.

- Although it will probably mean giving up a lot of yards I wouldn't blitz the 49ers much. For one they don't use a lot of formations that are vulnerable to blitzes. For two when they do use those formations they tend to call plays that happen to be blitz killers like all kinds of screens. I would put 8 in the box a lot by walking one of the safeties down but other than that Id make them show they can march down the field on a consistent basis without getting any big plays from their passing game.

I know Frank Gore is a monster but I also know that the 49er offense lacks discipline.  Make them run enough plays and they are sure to rack up some penalties wwhich will help to kill their drives.

Well that's all I've got based on one game. I just love playing Monday Morning Quarterback BEFOREhand lol.


  1. Awesome stuff, Steve.

    Also this had me laughing: "The one thing that was noticeable though is that the guards love to jump guys at the line of scrimmage and punch them. "
    Those are some shady guards! I know what you mean though.

  2. Don't know if this is good or bad, but Trueblood participated in full practice today, I really like Lee at RT, he blocks to the whistle, and doesn't cost us with mental errors.

  3. Dang, I love getting this kind of info before the game. I'll be watching for the stunts and set-ups. Thinking of that, do you think that may be why the D has had more success in the 2nd half this year? Setting things up in the first half, then executing in the 2nd?

  4. I read Troy Smith likes to move out of the pocket to see better since he is only 6' tall. Should the Bucs try to contain him in the pocket and go for bat downs on his passes? You wrote they should avoid nickel and stay in regular D package. What will likely happen if Raheem runs his dreaded 3-3-5 against the 49'r offense? Are there specific weaknesses with the 3-3-5 facing a TE like Davis, and if they run the 3-3-5 how can they be more effective with it, because we all know that they are going to run it? Thanks again Steve.

  5. Great breakdown Steve, but I end up just getting frustrated on Sunday when they don't take your advise.

  6. @BamBamBuc Doubtful. I just think Coach Morris gets a good handle on what a team is trying to do and makes better calls in the second half. But I haven't seen any D Lineman other than Stylez set a guy up or have anything resembling a pass rush plan for the whole game.

    @BigMacAttack I didn't see that in the game against the Rams. He actually threw well in the pocket and out of the pocket. But if the protection breaks down he won't just stand there.

    As for the 3-3-5 I can just about guarantee you that if the 49ers see the Bucs line up in that they will run the ball. And we will get our ass kicked. Im hoping that if for no other reason that will be enough to get Coach Morris to steer clear of it this game.

    @CharlieB You and me both brother.

  7. Thanks Steve for this Post, very informative.

  8. Time for Bull Rush article Steve. please let us know when we can expect it.