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Does our offense *really* need a vertical threat?

Originally posted by nflguy49:
#1 Link please

#2 You think being ranked in the 20's out of 32 starters is an arguement in Alex's favor? lulz

with the coaching we had before JH, yea, thats a good argument
Originally posted by mkmasn:
If you read the comments:

Grant Cohn says: April 2, 2012 at 12:31 pm
This takes into account all 49er third downs when Alex Smith was on the field in games he started.

That means, all those times we called a run on 3rd down, it factored into Smith's stats.

Runs are factored into the stats of the other starting qbs as well. You can shine the turd all you want but in the end it still smells like poo.
[ Edited by nflguy49 on Apr 16, 2012 at 9:52 PM ]
Originally posted by nflguy49:
Runs are factored into the stats of the other starting qbs as well. You can shine the turd all you want but in the end it still smells like poo.

and thats why we have 2 new starting WR and looking to get more in the draft

and before you bring up manning you have to remember 2 things

1. hes a future HOF qb
2. we tried to resign alex before we even went after manning
[ Edited by 49ersalldaway126 on Apr 16, 2012 at 9:57 PM ]
Originally posted by mkmasn:
with the coaching we had before JH, yea, thats a good argument

Alex had his worst 3rd down conversion rate ever in 2011. He was so pathetic on 3rd downs that even Tim frickin Tebow had a better 3rd down conversion rate!
Originally posted by 49ersalldaway126:
and thats why we have 2 new starting WR and looking to get more in the draft

and before you bring up manning you have to remember 2 things

1. hes a future HOF qb
2. we tried to resign alex before we even went after manning

#1 The Niners won 14 games last season and were a punt returner's fumble away from the Superbowl. You think a team in that position tries to sign a new starting qb if their current starter is viewed as an integral part of their winning formula? Gimme a break. If Manning had signed with the Titans it would probably be Hassleback starting for the Niners next season. Sf gave Alex a low ball offer because they know he has no value as a starter around the league and minimal value for the Niners. They tried to upgrade the position but it didn't work out. So they allow Alex to come back on what is essentially a one year deal with no signing bonus. SF can release Alex after the 2012 season and would owe him only 1 million bucks (chump change in the NFL).

#2 Alex re-signed with the Niners because he had no other options. If Alex was anything close to what some of his biggest boosters believe then there would have been a line of teams just waiting to throw money at him in free agency. Instead the Dolphins kicked the tires on him after their first two choices turned them down but still didn't offer him a contract. The Seahawks cancelled his flight and decided to sign another qb instead.

#3 Lucky for the Niners we have Harbaugh and I have faith he will find a replacement for Alex soon.
[ Edited by nflguy49 on Apr 16, 2012 at 10:08 PM ]
Alex probably has had the worst receivers of any QB and he has had to learn 7 new offenses.

Kyle Williams and Crabtree in the Championship game. (Thank god for VD.)

Last years west offense is very complicated offense. Vernon didn't even have the O down until the last 7 games of the season. Crabtree didn't have any preseason.

The offense gets better when everyone is on the same page. Hell the Oline didn't have it together until probably the 3rd game of the season.

Give Alex a break it's not all his fault. I think the O will be a lot better this year, plus we finally have a head coach who understand the O.

If we can get a Fleener type (big target, decent speed, sure hands) it will open up the O. Vernon is big but he's not the BIG Witten type of threat that we haven't had. I hope we get fleener.
We need someone like Bryant was in Alex Smith's 2nd year. I bet we could have won the ravens game last regular season with 1 or 2 plays down the field.
  • mike
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Originally posted by Oldschool9erfan:
Alex probably has had the worst receivers of any QB and he has had to learn 7 new offenses.

Kyle Williams and Crabtree in the Championship game. (Thank god for VD.)

Last years west offense is very complicated offense. Vernon didn't even have the O down until the last 7 games of the season. Crabtree didn't have any preseason.

The offense gets better when everyone is on the same page. Hell the Oline didn't have it together until probably the 3rd game of the season.

Give Alex a break it's not all his fault. I think the O will be a lot better this year, plus we finally have a head coach who understand the O.

If we can get a Fleener type (big target, decent speed, sure hands) it will open up the O. Vernon is big but he's not the BIG Witten type of threat that we haven't had. I hope we get fleener.

LOL, it's a good thing he's so tall, makes it easier for you to swing from his nuts.
Originally posted by nflguy49:
Originally posted by 49ersalldaway126:
and thats why we have 2 new starting WR and looking to get more in the draft

and before you bring up manning you have to remember 2 things

1. hes a future HOF qb
2. we tried to resign alex before we even went after manning

#1 The Niners won 14 games last season and were a punt returner's fumble away from the Superbowl. You think a team in that position tries to sign a new starting qb if their current starter is viewed as an integral part of their winning formula? Gimme a break. If Manning had signed with the Titans it would probably be Hassleback starting for the Niners next season. Sf gave Alex a low ball offer because they know he has no value as a starter around the league and minimal value for the Niners. They tried to upgrade the position but it didn't work out. So they allow Alex to come back on what is essentially a one year deal with no signing bonus. SF can release Alex after the 2012 season and would owe him only 1 million bucks (chump change in the NFL).

#2 Alex re-signed with the Niners because he had no other options. If Alex was anything close to what some of his biggest boosters believe then there would have been a line of teams just waiting to throw money at him in free agency. Instead the Dolphins kicked the tires on him after their first two choices turned them down but still didn't offer him a contract. The Seahawks cancelled his flight and decided to sign another qb instead.

#3 Lucky for the Niners we have Harbaugh and I have faith he will find a replacement for Alex soon.

The 49ers went after Peyton Manning BECAUSE HE'S PEYTON MANNING.

Again, they also tried to sign Alex BEFORE they went after Peyton. C'mon son...
Originally posted by nflguy49:
Originally posted by valrod33:
Link or you are lying

http://49ers.pressdemocrat.com/2012/04/inside-the-49ers/alex-smiths-problems-on-third-down/


Alex Smith's problems on third down Posted on April 2, 2012 by Grant Cohn
Take this for what it's worth – Alex Smith has always been bad on third down.

Before I explain, let me define my terms. "Average" on third down would be a 38 percent conversion success rate and five conversions per game.

In 2006, Smith's first full season starting, the Niners offense converted 34.45 percent of third downs and averaged 4.5 third-down conversions per game. Both figures ranked 26th in the NFL.

In 2009 Smith started ten games, and over that stretch the Niners offense converted a paltry 30.15 percent of third downs and averaged just 4.1 third-down conversions per game. Both figures ranked 29th.

In 2010 Smith started nine games and rebounded to his 2006 form – 34.09 percent third-down conversion rate, 4.6 third-down conversions per game, both ranking 25th.

Last season, Smith's third-down play tanked inexplicably. He converted a mind-bogglingly low 28.11 percent of third downs and averaged 3.89 third-down conversions per game, ranking 31st. For reference, Tim Tebow averaged 3.92 third-down conversions per game in 2011.

Smith has historically converted roughly four third downs per game. That's bad, but it's not a killer – not on this great Niners team. Smith converted four third downs against the Saints in the playoffs and won.

Smith's main problem on third down is his propensity to get shut out entirely. Over his last 26 starts, he's converted two or fewer third downs nine times.

Does Smith deserve all the blame? No. Offensive linemen have to block and wide receivers have to get open and catch the ball, and Smith hasn't had the best offensive line or wide receivers over the years.

Maybe Greg Roman should take the blame for Smith getting outplayed by Tebow on third down last season. After all, Roman routinely called ultra-ultra-conservative plays with leads or near field goal range.

Maybe it's not Smith's fault. I just can't help but notice that while his interception rate and red zone effectiveness have fluctuated over the years, for whatever reason his third down results have always been bad.

On the other hand, Joe Flacco, who some might rank in the same QB tier as Smith, has always had good results on third down.

In 2008, Flacco converted 39.26 percent. In 2009, 42.8 percent. In 2010, 40.17 percent. And in 2011, 41.98 percent.

Mark Sanchez had his worst season ever on third down in '11, converting 34.74, a higher rate than Smith has ever produced. Sanchez also converted 40.43 percent in 2010.

Matt Ryan converted 43.46 percent in 2011 and 46 percent in 2010.

Obviously third down conversions aren't everything. What do you make of Smith's bad third-down numbers?

Update: Here are more in-depth 2011 third-down stats for Smith, via the Washington Post, courtesy of our commenter BigP:

"#12 in NFC on 3rd down passing conversions, #23 overall. #16 in NFC on 3rd and #32 overall. #11 in NFC on 3rd and 3-7 yards, #23 overall. #11 in NFC on 3rd and 8+ yards, #20 overall. #12 in % First Downs/Attempt, #20 overall."

Update No. 2: For another point of comparison, Shaun Hill converted 40.17 percent of his third downs as a Niner from 2007 to 2009.

I think you missed this part:

Does Smith deserve all the blame? No. Offensive linemen have to block and wide receivers have to get open and catch the ball, and Smith hasn't had the best offensive line or wide receivers over the years.

Maybe Greg Roman should take the blame for Smith getting outplayed by Tebow on third down last season. After all, Roman routinely called ultra-ultra-conservative plays with leads or near field goal range.


Sure, Smith deserves some blame for our poor 3rd down percentage...but so does the other 10 players on the field and the playcaller(s).

Back on topic: I agree with the OP that we need a player who can move the chains and work the short/intermediate routes. We currently have players who have the ability to make plays down the field but we lack a sure handed target who knows how to get open quickly.
[ Edited by candlestick49er on Apr 17, 2012 at 3:35 AM ]
The reason I liked hill so much was his height, hands and speed. He looks like he could become a very complete wr. But yes we need tall guys that will fight for the ball in the redzone and on third downs....if they are fast on top of it, it is gravy. With VD and Ginn we already have down the field threats.
Originally posted by Wubbie:
I didn't know whether this should go into the Draft or Free Agency sub-forums, but if it belongs there... mods, feel free to move this thread or merge it.

But in looking at a lot of people talk about team needs, do we really need a vertical threat, per se? I've seen names like Stephen Hill, Lee Evans, Mike Wallace, etc. etc. being tossed around, but I don't think that's a problem among our current group of receivers and tight ends.

Vernon Davis is one of the best deep threat TEs in the league. And while they're not burners like a Mike Wallace or Calvin Johnson, we've seen Michael Crabtree, Delanie Walker, Kyle Williams get behind opposing defenses. They're not consistent deep threats, but I'm just saying they have that capability and they're not plodders.

With Manningham and Moss added to the team, I think we have a decent potential to go vertical. And we still have Ted Ginn, who defenses know will only run deep patterns. We're not going to be this explosive aerial attack like the Saints, but we're going to hit some big plays here and there with our current personnel.

To be honest, I think the BIGGEST need is a possession receiver with great hands that will move the chains on third downs. The Cowboys have it in Jason Witten, a TE, on third down. The Patriots' starting WR, Wes Welker, does it from the slot and is excellent at working underneath to convert third downs.

We were a few plays away from the Super Bowl against the Giants. The problem, in my opinion, wasn't that we couldn't beat the defense vertically. The problem was that we had, what, one reception from our receivers? We HAD the big plays with Vernon Davis, but not the consistent passing game that comes from "high-percentage" short/intermediate passes to our wide receivers. Michael Crabtree was absolutely gobbled up with minimal man coverage, and that was EMBARRASSING, for a guy who is supposed to be so highly rated.

To stop the 49ers passing game last season, you can do it if you have a cornerback that's strong in press coverage and a good pass rush. Bump Michael Crabtree, while containing Vernon Davis, get a good pass-rush, and have decent tackling. Alex Smith, while I love the guy, is a fairly conservative passer. Take away his primary options and force him to check down all day (which he will) and that's how you thwart 49er third down attempts.

I know Hines Ward retired, but I felt his play-style as a receiver was more in line with what we needed, rather than a Mike Wallace or a Stephen Hill.

I'm interested to see how we close out the draft and free agency.

Good thoughts and analysis.

I agree that we need a big, physical weapon who can consistently go inside and use his body on quick slants. That is a staple of the WCO. And that's what we run. Remember Rice and Taylor. These two weren't exactly burners but they were VERY quick off the LOS (where Rice states the battle is won/lost - a weakness of Crabtree like you alluded to). But they could beat you off the LOS and were quicker then they were fast but always had great body positioning and were the best at RAC. Period. Plus they complimented each other perfectly. That said, in today's game, if you don't have a vertical threat (see Ted Ginn in the NFCCG), teams will play tighter up at the LOS, be more physical in the first 5 yards and play down hill run blitzing. Remember, we only took 3 shots deep that game and 2 went for TD's and the 3rd could have been - both with our two burners in Davis/Williams. I think we have a ton of speed now with Ginn, Manningham, Moss and VD. Now we need to get that possession receiver and his name is Fleener. Period. You add in two speed/possession receivers in Davis/Fleener with consistent speed to beat teams deep in Moss, Manningham and Ginn, now you have underneath specialists in Crabtree/Williams. That's three, diverse ways to attack a defense using the WCO in the modern game. Equally important, if not THE most important, it backs the defense off the LOS, pulls off the 8 and 9-man fronts and buys Alex time (a rarity) and creates tons of room for Gore/Hunter/Jacobs inside for the running game and out in the flats.

Fleener, to me, is the key ingredient we are missing (along with a stellar blocking OL) b/c of his versatility (traditional TE or flank him out wide), height, body control and big target inside a the RZ and on 3rd downs.
[ Edited by NCommand on Apr 17, 2012 at 8:46 AM ]
  • dj43
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Originally posted by m_brockalexander:
Here's why the Niners need a true vertical threat. How can anyone get open underneath when the defense doesn't have to worry about any routes past 15 yds? The Niners have signed a couple of short term solutions to fill the WR position this year and maybe next. Drafting someone like a Hill or Wright gives the Niners a long term prospect who could be special once these short timers move on. Then again, Baalke and Harbaugh may think that Fleener is the best addition to run the offense the way they want to. As long as the Niners add at least two potential playmakers to their offense, I will be happy.

I agree. We are stuck at about the same point we were with Shaun Hill. His weak arm allowed defenders to stack the box and press all the time and there was little room underneath.

We need a deep threat, and I expect Baalke to grab one at some point in the first three rounds. The signing of Edwards and now the signing of Moss should clearly tell us that the FO recognizes the need for a deep threat.

I would also like to address the need for a PASS CATCHING TE threat that operates like a TE. Vernon Davis is nice but he does not have the agility and hands to be a Gronkowski or Gates or Gonzalez-type TE. He is a mismatch when he can get isolated on deep seem or wheel routes but he has just not been able to develop into the kind of quick relief valve of a Jimmy Graham or Jason Witten. The perfect addition would be Fleener. He has the height, hands and route running ability that VD does not have, plus he has speed that none of the other TEs on the team have. To bring him in, along with a speed guy, would make this offense very potent....assuming we have a RG that can pass protect.
i think the niners do need to get someone to stretch the field. Otherwise defenses and safties will just play short which would be a big problem it causes alex to throw in tighter windows and allows less big plays and YAC.

we need to go after a guy who causes the safties to play deep that way it allows more routes underneath and the middle which is where crabtree and vernon flourish also thats where manningham seems to dominate.

thats why i really really want kendall wright. I wouldnt mind hill either. But wright is faster and a little more proven. He will also help much more on 3rd downs
Hmmm...Randy Moss must be chopped liver for those deep routes...

I still say we need someone who is 6'4 with great hands and hops.
[ Edited by Jakemall on Apr 17, 2012 at 9:39 AM ]