Wednesday, September 11, 2013

How Can The 49ers Offense Beat Seattle D

It's Seattle week, and the 49ers offense is preparing for their toughest test of the season.  In two meetings last season the Seahawks held the 49ers to 13 points in both games.  Forget any excuses or explanations, that is pretty good.  The Seahawks defense features a very physical backfield with an attacking front seven.  After studying film from the 2 games last season and week 1 of 2013, here are three areas that I think will help the 49ers offense get over the hump this week.

Bunch Of Bunch

The Seahawks like their cornerbacks to play physical, and get in your face.  There are a few ways to keep them from doing this, and one of them is the bunch formation.  This is something that the Panthers did quite a bit on Sunday, the only problem for them was that Cam Newton is not a very accurate thrower and was unable to take advantage.

The 49ers utilized this formation a few times against Seattle.  In the first series of the first meeting for example, facing a 3rd down the 49ers came out in a bunch formation to the left side of the offense.  This forced Brandon Browner to play off coverage.  With the benefit of a free release Kyle Williams was able to get open deep on a wheel route, Alex Smith saw it but was unable to make the throw.

Another way to gain an advantage against the jam is by moving the receiver prior to the snap.  This is something we saw the 49ers do quite a bit on Sunday with Anquan Boldin.  They had him moving quite a bit prior to the snap, allowing him to get a free release into his route.  The other thing they did with Boldin was move him around the formation, lining him up all over the place.  It will be interesting to see how the Seahawks try to match up with Boldin when he lines up inside with another receiver outside.  It would seem that by getting Boldin on the 3rd Seahawks CB, Walter Thurmond, they would have an advantage.

Punch Them In The Gut

In the first matchup last season the 49ers offense hit big run after big run between the tackles, yet in the second matchup they could not get the run game on track.  Looking at the film of both games I think that had to do with a slight adjustment by the Seahawks.

Those big runs came when the 49ers went with their 22 personnel, 2 tight ends and 2 running backs.  When the 49ers went into this grouping the Seahawks would walk safety Earl Thomas down into the box giving them a 4-4 look.  In the first meeting when Thomas would come down he would line up slightly outside the TE and was unable to make the play as he was often cut off by V Davis.  In the second matchup the Seahawks still walked Thomas into the box, but this time had him lining up inside the TE, making it almost impossible for him to be cut off.

The 49ers need to still look to punch the Seahawks between the tackles this week.  Looking at their game against Carolina, the Panthers had a good amount of success when running between the tackles.  If they see Thomas lining up inside, it should open up the Davis for the out route or corner since his man is already lined up inside.  Think back to the Arizona Monday night game last year when Alex Smith repeatedly burned the Cardinals with play passes outside from 22 personnel.

Hit Your Shots

As good as the Seahawks defensive backfield is, they will give you a couple of opportunities to hit a deep shot each game.  The Kyle Williams play described above is one example.  Imagine how much different the outcome of the second meeting might have been had Kaepernick hit Manningham with the deep shot on the first play of the game, or later in the first quarter when he had Williams behind the corner and again missed him.  Sure in the second game it was against Jeremy Lane, but those plays were there in the first matchup as well.  The shot throw is a low percentage play, which is why you don't see very many of them, but when the 49ers get the opportunity on Sunday hitting one will go a long way towards a victory.

1 comment:

  1. Nice work on this one, Jack. I really enjoy reading your stuff. Keep 'em coming. In a perfect world ESPN would've hired you as the new 49ers blogger instead of Williamson who can't even put an article together without a typo or two.