What areas do you think the staff will focus their coaching (skills) attention this off season?
We saw this catch doing an amazing turnaround of the team - awesome. And we saw them emphasize the basics -- of their scheme and football discipline -- team first ethose, assignment responsibility and improving execution each week, exceptional ball security, AND exceptional talent. All things missing for the last 5+ years With a solid foundation, and not forgetting that, we also saw a lot of room for improvement. Here is
Plus the coaching staff was essentially learning about its personnel on the fly having lacked an offseason for teaching and installation. I have no doubt that this staff has an excellent grasp of their talent and coaching priorities going forward.
Here is what I think they are going to focus on this offseason and training camp:
1. QB skills -- This last year was about the basics and a progressive installation of the scheme and limited game plans. This time, I think the staff is going to work on finding out if ASmith, or the other QBs, can take these basics and start making throws on better timing and into tighter windows. I suspect that a huge amount of practice is going to be QBs stressed to throw to beat tight coverage -- e.g. receivers running crossing routes with underneath and over the top coverage, but with enough room that the right throw on time beats the coverage (see VDavis reception against the Saints). Thowing on the run will be the second point of emphasis -- Smith needs to dramatically improve here. I suspect they are going to work him rolling left over and over. Lastly, they will run a ton of drills where the QB must move around in the pocket without leaving the pocket -- working on ball security, throwing position, eyes downfield -- and be timed to who can stay in the longest without getting firmly grabbed. The QB that succeeds in these drill will win the starting job (IMHO).
2. WR play related to timing with the QB, separation, and aggressiveness to the ball are going to go hand in hand with the above.
3. TE - I think they draft a big bodied, soft handed TE to work the inside zones better -- which goes to the passing game work above. I suspect Davis and DW are too duplicative in talents.
4. OL - pass blocking and blitz pick-up scheme, scheme, scheme, working as a group with the RBs.
5. RBs - pass blocking, I thought they ran well, minimal dancing, etc.
6. Defense - darn, they played so well, there isn't much to say. What skill or assignment issues were there?? Aldon needs some work on getting by first contact, he came free mostly on stunts or second moves to the inside when the QB was forced to move. Besides some highlight reel power rushes, his main move going straight up on a tackle was to go outside and hesitate to avoid contact, and then explode past the tackle late. JSmith was the guy that worked right through people for direct sacks, and Ray McD was primarily a gap splitting rusher. Soap's role tying up the middle was unsung - but huge. The LB core was awesome - even Haralson -- they played their assignments incredibly well and rarely had a breakdown. Shoot, even Grant came in and we hardly missed a beat. On the back end, I think Culliver showed incredible progress as a rookie. Even when WR made catches on him, he wasn't beat badly. He may be a full time starter next year. The coverage in the deep middle had a few breakdowns, but you can't win them all.
7. Special teams - Holy cow. Again, Seely may be the secret to the 49ers success. The coverage units were unbelievebly good - even IF the first tacklers missed, the follow-up coverage just swarmed people. I can't remember an instance where the coverage broke down and left a big gap for the returner to burst through. That is a testament to his coaching with such a short off season. Maybe they will work on Lee's leg strength to improve his distance - he doesn't kick very far - joking!!!