Thursday, October 4, 2012

Was Greg Cosell Actually Right?

One of the most controversial plays from the 2011 season occured on the 49ers 1st play from scrimmage at the start of the second half of the NFC Championship Game, a "Shot" play targeting Delanie Walker on a Wheel Route.  The result of the play is a sack of Alex Smith.  Noted NFL film guru Greg Cosell, would bring this play up as one of several instances where Smith failed to pull the trigger on open receivers.

Let's take a look at this play using 2 clips from the All 22 Coach View.

The above picture is stopped just as Walker (yellow circle) has begun to turn his route upfield.  At this point in the play Smith has a clean pocket.  Notice the DB covering Walker (red circle) has committed to the out route and has his momentum taking him to the sidelines while at the same time Walker is heading upfield.  This is an instance where Smith needs to "throw open" Walker by delivering the ball into the open area.  Smith should be starting his throwing motion at this point targeting the void in coverage between the corner and saftey.

This second shot is to further illustrate that Walker was open on the play had Smith delivered the ball on time.  Notice that Walker has a full step on the DB, the result of the momentum of the players as discussed above.  In this shot you can also see that the safety has followed Michael Crabtree over the middle, and the window circled above has expanded.

Unfortunately for the 49ers, Smith did not deliver the ball on time with the play resulting in a sack and a  missed opportunity for a big play to open the 2nd half.


  1. While your breakdown is accurate, I have seen alex deliver that ball perfectly many times to a receiver he has trust and chemistry with named VD.. I have also seen guys like drew brees miss an open shot from time to time. There is no such thing as a perfect qb. Without alex smith playing probowl football in the saints game, they are not even in the championaship game. I like your blog but lets not turn it in to a negative smith focus. There are dozens of those blogs already. He is NOT the reason we werent in the SB. In truth 2 fumbles was. Lets get them back this year!

    1. Yeah, going 1 for 13 on 3rd down conversions (with the only one coming at the end of regulation against prevent) had nothing to do with not going to the Super Bowl. Genius.

  2. Nick,

    Thanks for your comment. The main reason for this post was to show the validity in the comments made by Cosell following that game. You will get both the good and bad from me regarding Alex Smith.