Monday, September 23, 2013

What Is Wrong With The Offense?

The 49ers offense has been limited to 10 points the last two weeks.  It was easy to excuse away the 3 points in Seattle, crowd noise, weather, their DB's hold, and so on.  Scoring only 7 points at home against a Colts defense that had given up 17 points to the Raiders and 24 points to the Dolphins is another.

After re watching the last two games there are three things that jump out that are causing the offense to be stuck in neutral.

     * The Read Option/Shotgun run game - After an offseason of studying, opposing defenses have figured out how to stop the 49ers read option/shotgun run game.  They are playing the dive by crashing the outside line backer, and jamming up the middle with their end and nose tackle.  Behind that they have their inside linebacker scraping over the top and the playside safety and cornerback coming down to form a triangle to contain the quarterback.  All three teams have utilized this scheme, and the 49ers have been ineffective as a result.

In addition to the read option, teams are shutting down everything the 49ers do in the run game from the shotgun.  It's simple really.  When the 49ers go into the shotgun with Gore in the backfield the ball is going between the tackles.  They don't even try to get him outside the tackle like they did on the first series when he was able to gain over 60 yards, mostly with off tackle runs.

     * Kaepernick's happy feet and wide receivers struggling to get off jams - The 49ers passing game is a disaster.  The 49ers have struggled getting off jams the last two weeks, and as a result are not getting open routinely.  The problem is that even when they do Colin Kaepernick has a case of happy feet and can't deliver the pass, and if he does get it away it is inaccurate or coming out of a rifle with no touch.

3 examples of this from just the first half.  On their 2nd possession they face 3rd down.  Keapernick scrambles out to his left and has Kyle Williams wide open near the sideline for a 1st down.  Kaepernick's pass comes out at 100 mph, and is slightly behind Williams resulting in a drop.  This is an example of time where Kaepernick just has to use a little touch and give his receiver an opportunity to catch it.  Gunning it in there works, but only if you hit the man in the chest.

On the next possession the 49ers face 2nd and 12.  The offensive line gives Kaepernick a good pocket, but the underneath receiver is covered and Kaepernick just breaks down in the pocket, causing him to completely miss Kyle Williams coming open deep on a post.

Later in the first half the 49ers face 3rd and 10 on their own 46.  Again the offensive line gives Kaepernick a good pocket to work from, but after his initial read is covered Kaepernick again breaks down in the pocket, creating his own pressure and spinning around causing him to miss a wide open Marlon Moore running a square in from right to left.

     * Defenses are dictating what Kaepernick can do - The Seahawks and Colts both put a similar plan into place when the 49ers are in passing downs.  They are overloading their rush to the right side of the offense, and keeping a spy on Kaepernick.

By overloading the 49ers right side they are forcing Kaepernick to bail left, which they know he will do if his first read is not there and he senses any pressure.  By doing this they are making it much easier to spy Kaepernick, because now the spy only has to cover half of the field.

What's next?  They need to get back to what we have thought 49ers offensive football was.  Get the quarterback under center, run the ball, and use play action off of it.  When they did those two things yesterday they were successful.  By putting the QB under center the entire line of scrimmage is open in the running game, and this also opens up the play action pass.  The 49ers were effective yesterday when they did these things, and failed when they got away from it.  Look no further than their first 2 possessions of the second half for proof.

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