When De'Anthony Thomas took a swing pass from Alex Smith 17 yards for a touchdown on the Kansas City Chiefs opening drive of the second half on Sunday there was reason for 49ers fans to be concerned. Up to that point in the game the Chiefs had scored on 3 of their first 5 offensive possessions and rolled up 228 yards of offense. So what happened?
After that Chiefs touchdown the 49ers offense, defense and special teams suffocated the Chiefs. The San Francisco defense limited Kansas City to 37 yards on 13 plays over their final 4 possessions, only 5 of those plays coming in the fourth quarter.
Let's take a look at a few plays that were key to the 49ers putting the Chiefs away.
- With just over one minute left in the third quarter and leading 17-16, the Chiefs faced a 3rd and 4 on the San Francisco 36 yard line. Alex Smith took the shotgun snap and rolled to his right. Demetrius Harris ran a drag route from left to right. Harris had a step on Michael Wilhoite, but Smith's pass was a little low and behind him resulting in a drop and giving the ball back to the 49ers.
- After Frank Gore was stuffed on the ensuing possession the 49ers faced 4th and 1 on their own 29 yard line. Jim Harbaugh threw caution to the wind and called his first fake punt since week 16 of 2012 in Foxboro. The result was a 3 yard run by personal protector Craig Dahl and the 49ers drive would continue.
- The two plays after the successful fake punt net the 49ers no yards so they face a 3rd and 10 on their own 32 yard line. The 49ers line up with three wide receivers and the Chiefs send a very well designed overload blitz to the left side of the 49ers offensive line. Carlos Hyde and Alex Boone do a nice job of picking up the blitz just enough to allow Colin Kaepernick time to get the ball out towards Brandon Lloyd who is matched up against Sean Smith in single coverage. Lloyd does a good job of locating the ball and going up for an incredible acrobatic catch for a 29 yard gain.
The 49ers drive the ball down to the Chiefs 9 yard line before having to settle for a Phil Dawson field goal to take a 19-17 lead.
- On the ensuing Chiefs possession they face 3rd and 1 on their own 32 yard line. Smith takes a 5 step drop and has Dwayne Bowe wide open on a quick out in the left flat. 49ers outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks does a good job of recognizing the play and gets into the throwing lane to knock the pass down and force a Chiefs punt.
- The 49ers then drive the ball into Chiefs territory before being forced to bring on Phil Dawson for what would have been a 54 yard field goal attempt. The Chiefs make a mistake with their substitutions and come to the line with 12 men. The penalty gives the 49ers a first down and allows them to bleed the clock down to only 2:12 remaining in the game after Phil Dawson hit his fifth field goal of the game for a 22-17 49ers lead.
- With the Chiefs now needing to score a touchdown they ask Smith to throw his deepest pass of the game, 23 yards, and he has tight end Anthony Fasano open down the right seam but he airmails the throw. The 49ers are sitting in a Cover 3 zone which allows Perrish Cox to be in position for the interception and put the game away.
In the end the 49ers won this game with a total team effort. They pounded the ball at the Chiefs on the ground, hit clutch throws, played strong defense and took advantage of a couple mistakes by their opponent. The same basic formula that has carried them to 38 regular season victories since 2011.
By: Niner Legacy
Date: October 8, 2014 at 11:39 PM
Comment: With each game, I'm getting more and more tired of Chris Culliver's continous lack of effort and macho-man antics. He got absolutely steamrolled by De'Anthony Thomas on that TD...but he came late, didn't go 100%, and then had the nerve to try to talk trash to Thomas after the TD. He's our weakest CB in my opinion. Can't wait to get Brock back to pair up with Cox---who has been playing at a pro-bowl level.
Date: October 8, 2014 at 6:35 PM
Comment: Jack I forgot to ask you on my earlier comment but would it be possible for your to conduct a anaylsis of our pass protection. Colin appears to be under alot of pressure and we are giving up sacks. Is this problem due to OL play or QB holding to the ball longer based on all the sacks in the past 5 games? Thanks Jack
Date: October 8, 2014 at 6:29 PM
Comment: Jack, as always great job. I should have visited webzone earlier. By the way this is Chicago49er, would you please take over the press blog.
Date: October 8, 2014 at 5:04 PM
Comment: Is there any way to put the blog comments in the order of first comment at the top - getting tired of going further down the pile to see what is being commented on.
Date: October 8, 2014 at 6:24 AM
Comment: Excellent write up Hammer. Total domination by the 49ers in the 4th quarter. Along with your talking points, I would add the 49ers wore down the Monday Night Football Chiefs, with help from the heat, sun, and grit. Discipline was obvious by the lack of penalties, consequently aiding them in their accomplishment.....
By: Mike S
Date: October 7, 2014 at 11:11 PM
Comment: Good comment "baf"...I think everyone sees that. Gore's feel, patience, allowing his blocks to set up, & vision on his runs makes him the elite runner that he is specializing in getting the tough necessary yards to keep the chains moving or getting positive yards to make 3rd downs manageable & more successful to convert to firsts. This is vs Hyde who's a bull in a china cabinet. Hyde needs to study Gore & take serious note(s) on his patience & allowing the blocks & play to develop. Gore is a craftsman maneuvering through traffic knowing when to delay, fake, cut, & the right time to stay low & turn on his burst. Hyde just bursts straight ahead period looking like he runs right into a brick wall a lot of times...does he even look for a hole? I guess the first crease he sees yeah. He's got a LOONG ways to go to get to Gore's level. But I do like his fresh legs, high energy, toughness, & downhill running. Runs a bit high. Study the "man" & work on your craft Hyde to be a more real effective productive RB. Its wishful thinking to hope Hyde could be as crafty as Frank but with more breakaway speed. FANTASTIC to see Gore have a BIG GAME. GO FRANK!!!! 21 baby!!! Nice W boys!
Date: October 7, 2014 at 1:54 PM
Comment: I counted three times that Hyde hit the wrong hole because he hit so fast. When he becomes better at reading his blocks he's gonna bust a few.
Any word on Lattimore and how he's progressing?
Date: October 7, 2014 at 1:51 PM
Comment: Pretty much sums it up, Jack. The 49ers D found ways to get off the field in the 2nd half, while the offense did a good job of controlling the clock with long drives. Yes, there was a little help from the Chiefs, but they were close enough if good enough. They weren't good enough.
Date: October 7, 2014 at 12:55 PM
Comment: Jack, nice write-up. We benefitted from a few KC mistakes, but often times in good matchups, those mistakes are magnified and you have to take them when the other team makes them.
I'd add that this game helped remind us why Colin Kaepernick is better than Alex Smith for the 49ers. Colin isn't as refined in the pocket as Alex, but he can stress the defense laterally with his legs, and open up options that Alex can't. Also, Colin hit huge strikes downfield that Alex can't or won't throw. When Alex did try, he airmailed the throw into Cox's arms for a backbreaking INT. Unfortunately, no matter how much 49er fans respect Alex (and I certainly do), that was something he did at the worst times during his tenure with us.
By: Brotha Tuna
Date: October 7, 2014 at 12:36 PM
Comment: Indeed, all key plays. May I add four or five 8-9 yard bursts by Frank and a few by Hyde?