Friday, November 23, 2012

Playcalling Wasn't The Difference


It appears that we may finally have a resolution to the debate regarding whether 49ers offensive coordinator needed to do more to get Vernon Davis the ball more often.

Vernon Davis answered the question for us when he had this to say about his 32 yard reception on the first play of the second half, "....it was one of those balls that you see [Patriots QB] Tom Brady throw. Second window, right on the money. I didn’t expect the ball to come because we’ve ran that play quite a few times and the tight end usually doesn’t get the ball on that play. But, he saw it and he just put it there.”

My take on the situation has always been that the issue rested not with Roman, but the man responsible for pulling the trigger, Alex Smith.  It is no secret that Smith is cautious with the ball, it is a major reason why he only had 5 interceptions last year, but that caution also came at the expense of getting the ball to Davis.  Let's take a look at a perfect example of this from Smith.


















The above shot is from the 49ers first scoring drive in Arizona.  Smith has just started his throwing motion.  Davis is running free at the 49 yard line with a lot of distance between him and the nearest defender, Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson.  Smith has the deep shot here, look at the space between him and the defender and there is no one over the top.  Instead, Smith is in the process of checking down to Frank Gore for an 11 yard completion.  This is a shot play designed to go to Davis, but the ball goes elsewhere.

Now let's take a look at some shots from Monday night and compare.

















First drive of the game, 3rd and 1, Davis is well covered by the linebacker with help over the top from the safety, but Kaepernick still takes the shot to Davis.


















3rd Quarter, 2nd and 2, Davis is well covered by the safety on a deep corner route, but as you can see Kaepernick is still taking the shot, and just misses.  



















First play of the second quarter.  This is the play that Davis is speaking about in his quote above.  Davis has his man beat, and Kaepernick is delivering the ball on time.  Davis is surprised, because as you can see Michael Crabtree is also open coming across at the 40.  That is the route Smith would usually hit.

One QB takes the shot, the other plays it safe.

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