Tuesday, October 1, 2013

3 Offensive Keys Against Houston

The 49ers offense will go into it's contest this Sunday night with the fourth highest percentage of 3 and outs in the NFL.  According to ESPN's Mike Sando, the 49ers have gone 3 and out on 43.1% of their drives through the first quarter of the season.  For comparison, the 2012 49ers went 3 and out on 20% of their drives.  Unfortunately for the 49ers, the Texan defense leads the league in percentage of 3 and outs forced, having forced opponents to go 3 and out on 50% of their drives.

To say the 49ers offense faces a tough task would be an understatement, but let's look at 3 keys to success for this week:

1)  Run the ball at JJ Watt - Watt is one of the most dominating and athletic defensive linemen in the NFL.  Much like the Cowboys linebackers from their teams of the early 90's, this athleticism allows him to chase plays down from the backside, and as a result opponents find more success when they either run right at him, or if running away do so with counters which put a man in his face from the snap.

Over the last 2 weeks teams have averaged almost a yard more on runs at Watt compared to those away from him, including 3 runs of over 10 yards, a 43 yard run against Seattle, along with 25 and 11 yard runs against Baltimore.

Running right at Watt will also pay dividends in the passing game.  Watt has a tireless motor, but if the 49ers can establish the running game early, it should slow down Watt's pass rush when the 49ers use their play action game which was very effective for them last Thursday night.

2)  Stay Balanced - This is a key for the 49ers every week, as it is for almost every NFL team.  Through the first 4 games the 49ers have run the ball the exact same number of times as they have passed it, 117 each, however those numbers are skewed a bit by heavy rushing days in their two victories.

Establishing the run against Houston is a big key.  The Texans have faced more runs than passes in each of their last 3 games, a come from behind overtime win against Tennessee and back to back losses to Baltimore and Seattle.

After a slow start on the ground, the 49ers have averaged over 5.3 yards per attempt over the last 2 weeks.  Houston comes into the game giving up an average of 4.0 yards per attempt, so the 49ers should be able to find success on the ground once again which as mentioned above will allow the 49ers to run their play action passing game which will allow for quick easy reads for Colin Kaepernick.

3)  Focus on the RB's and TE's in the passing game - Opposing running backs and tight ends have found a good amount of success against the Texans so far this season.  The 49ers personnel sets them up almost perfectly for this.  Everyone knows of the mismatch Vernon Davis can cause, but Bruce Miller has also become a good receiving threat the past couple weeks, especially off play action.  Mix in a couple passes to Vance McDonald and the 49ers offense should be able to keep up the momentum they picked up over the final 3 quarters in St Louis.

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