The San Francisco 49ers converted just four of their 15 third down situations against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. They have converted just 16 of their 46 this season. Meanwhile, the Seahawks offense converted nine of their 14 third down attempts. The 49ers had five 3-and-outs against Seattle and that's not counting the interception thrown on third down in the third quarter. The team did not gain a first down until the final play of the first quarter in Seattle. Blaine Gabbert met with the media today and discussed the 49ers' offensive woes on third downs.
"It was a lack of converting third downs and after watching the film we were in third-and-three to six the entire game," Gabbert said. "I think we were in third-and-three to six the first six or seven third downs. We pitched a big goose egg there. If you could have told me going into that game we were going to be in third-and-manageable for the majority of the game, probably 90-percent of our third downs, I would take that bet any day that we'd convert a good number of those. But, we didn't."
Gabbert was asked if timing or accuracy have accounted to the team's problems on third down. "Yeah, there's a ton of different factors that go into why you execute or don't execute on third down," Gabbert said. "Sometimes, for instance the Rams game, we picked up a few running the ball with my legs, got a couple throwing. So there are a lot of things that kind of play into where you go with the ball on third down and how you convert.
"Every game is going to be totally different. Some teams play man coverage. Some teams drop eight in zone. Whatever it is that week you just have to do your best job to execute the play that's called and hopefully you have enough yards and sometimes if you're in third-and-long you're just adding to the pun. You're trying to catch the ball underneath and knife and try and get the first down that way."
"And at the end of the day, when we go out there we have to execute whether it's third-and-one or third-and-15," Gabbert continued. "We've got to go out there and execute the play and try and achieve that first down. I'm not saying you're going to get it every single time because that's unrealistic. That's what we're striving for, but at the same time we have to do the best of our ability of getting to the sticks on third down."
Against the Seahawks, eight times the 49ers encountered third-and-four or less. They attempted to pass six times but converted only once. Gabbert was asked if it was because Seattle took away the 49ers' run game. "No, I wouldn't say that at all," he responded. "It was just kind of the way the game was going and there were plays, if we break a tackle we get the first down, if we make a throw we get the first down. Like I've said a ton today, we just have to execute the play that's called. The quarterback's got to make a play. The offensive line has to be on their blocking-scheme. The receivers need to get open."
Often, the 49ers will be in a third down situation and the receiver will catch the ball and get tackled short of the first down marker. Gabbert was asked if that was part of Chip Kelly's game plan and the plays that he is calling. "I wouldn't say that at all," he answered. "I would say that's an unfair assessment.
"When you're third-and-one to two or third-and-three you're not calling 15-yard routes. That's not smart football. When you're third-and-one to four, you're calling underneath routes where you can catch and carry. You're getting the ball out because that's when you're most open, coming off on rubs and picks, beating man coverage. You're not calling 18-yard in cuts on third-and-two, so when you're in third-and-manageable you're calling underneath stuff, letting guys get open quick and get the first down."