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49ers Rudimentary Pass Offense

[This is a post in process - I'll be updating as I figure out the photo posting process - please be patient]

I have made the argument that the 49ers pass plays, scheme, an/or route combinations are not up to par with elite NFL offenses, and this has been a major impediment to our offense - regardless of who the QB is. Now, some could argue that the pass offense is really basic because our QBs are not good enough to run/understand complex schemes, or that the offense is new, so it hasn't had time to develop, the receivers don't get separation, the Oline doesn't give time, etc., etc. That all may be true, but it doesn't change the fact that it makes it easy on the defense to defend and the OC has to fix it.

The first 3 plays of the Seattle game are pretty good examples of the route schemes being problematic - and the deficiencies all noted above:

Play 1 -- Essentially a 3 route scheme, Davis running a deep in route from the standard TE position, Manningham running a stutter go on the outside, and a short route underneath by the slot receiver. Given that it was the first play, and it seems CK made a quick decision to go deep to Manningham, it does appear that the play design was to go deep to Manningham. THE PROBLEM: The combination of VD deep in and the stutter go draws the coverage right to Manningham, even though he gets behind the coverage. WHY? Why have VD draw the safety toward the deep route? If the intent was to hold that safeties attention on VD, then why run him toward the deep route? Why not run him deep to the other side with a flag or deep out in that direction?



It is pretty amazing that VD essentially draws bracket coverage by FOUR defenders, but at least draw them the other way.


CK puts the ball in the right place because the safety is coming across, so the ball has to go straight deep - maybe that is the design, maybe CK reads the safety coming. BUT, if the VD route hadn't been pulling the safety across toward the Manningham route, Mann would have been able to bend the route inside more away from his defender, and CK could have thrown that way as well. To me, this play just seems poorly designed. BUT, hey, every play can't work perfectly as designed, the defense is smart too. But the point of this post is to show that the designs are consistently simple. See next play.

PLAY 2: 2-10 and the pass routes are ALL called 5 yards deep - what kind of combination is that? It pulls all the defenders together. CK makes a quick decision to throw to Crabs - his go to receiver. Not a bad decision, but the play design draws the coverage TO Crabs. With a better read, CK could have gone against the grain of the play and thrown back to Gore. But hindsight is always 20-20. Again, the issue for me is the design.



The route of both VD and the fullback pull the coverage Crabs way. And all the routes have the receiver run about 5 yards deep and stop and turn back to the QB. It's a bet that the QB can throw it quickly to pick up 5 yards, but is pretty easy on the defenders. Again, a read to the backside swing route might have been the most open receiver. Hindsight 20-20.








PLAY 3: 3-10 Man coverage against basic route scheme. This requires one guy to beat his man by good route running - and Crabs does it with the out route, with a little push to assist his separation. None of the other receivers appear to get separation. And the receiver outside Crabs appears primarily running to drive off the outside coverage and then block his defender after Crabs makes the catch. This action appears to telegraph to the defender that the pass is going to Crabs, see how fast the defenders close on Crabs.



[By the way, GOODWIN gives up pressure up the middle that disrupts CKs throw a bit -- in my review to date, this appears to be a pretty common problem - Goodwin has a hard time holding his blocks for runs or passes].

Result: Incomplete to Crabs - yes, it hit him in the hands, but clearly wasn't an easy catch and with the defenders closing, only 50/50 Crabs could have turned it up enough to get a first down.


The point is: These route combinations were really basic for a defense to handle and did NOT break anyone. To me, this is an OC problem.
[ Edited by HearstFan on Dec 30, 2012 at 12:36 PM ]
You just figured out that Roman is overrated?

There have been completed passes (a couple for TDs LOL) where you had two receivers in the same seam running the same route.
Good post and observation! You should post this in the Roman is a genius thread (where he only is as a running OC). We mostly run a one-receiver passing offense too; very college-like!

I highlighted for most of the year that we were at around 60% on first down production but I don't know what we are at under CK as Im sure the approach has changed as well.
So if Roman is not showing improvement....and he is not selected to be a coach somewhere...will Harbs make a change at OC?

I think he would.....some feel that he jaded Alex and it was personal, but that just seems how Harbaugh is...if he doesn't see improvement out of a position, with legit reasons taking into consideration...he will move on.

Harbaugh has been with Roman for a while now...if he comes to the conclusion that Roman can't evolve in the NFL...yeah I see it happening.


yes yes, but David Akers.... well I think varies by position and situation...with a kicker, you have to be careful. Its not like you have backups that you constantly were coaching.
Our "rudimentary" pass offense has delivered a combined QBR of 73 for the season, which would be ranked 4th in the league only behind Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Matt Ryan....and ahead of guys like Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, RGIII, Russell Wilson, Big Ben, Romo, Luck, etc.

Call it what you want, I call it "highly productive."
Originally posted by NCommand:
Good post and observation! You should post this in the Roman is a genius thread (where he only is as a running OC). We mostly run a one-receiver passing offense too; very college-like!

I highlighted for most of the year that we were at around 60% on first down production but I don't know what we are at under CK as Im sure the approach has changed as well.

This is why I don't want another college offensive coordinator when Roman leaves. So many jumping on the Ault bandwagon, forgetting that this guy doesn't have a single day of NFL experience. Bring him in as a consultant fine, but hire a professional experienced playcaller to take over the OC job.
Originally posted by GhostofFredDean74:
Our "rudimentary" pass offense has delivered a combined QBR of 73 for the season, which would be ranked 4th in the league only behind Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Matt Ryan....and ahead of guys like Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, RGIII, Russell Wilson, Big Ben, Romo, Luck, etc.

Call it what you want, I call it "highly productive."

25th ranked passing attack......highly productive indeed.


I'm sure both Seattle and St Louis were absolutely shaking in their cleats at the thought of taking on the 49ers outrageously "highly productive" passing offense.
[ Edited by Phoenix49ers on Dec 31, 2012 at 1:37 PM ]
Originally posted by Afrikan:
So if Roman is not showing improvement....and he is not selected to be a coach somewhere...will Harbs make a change at OC?

I think he would.....some feel that he jaded Alex and it was personal, but that just seems how Harbaugh is...if he doesn't see improvement out of a position, with legit reasons taking into consideration...he will move on.

Harbaugh has been with Roman for a while now...if he comes to the conclusion that Roman can't evolve in the NFL...yeah I see it happening.


yes yes, but David Akers.... well I think varies by position and situation...with a kicker, you have to be careful. Its not like you have backups that you constantly were coaching.

i disagree on your alex point considering he was playing very well prior to the injury. I do agree with your akers point though because there really isn't anyone else out there, if there was a legatron 2.0 on FA a team would have gotten him by now so there's really not options at kicker until the draft.

But I'm not sure if Harbaugh will get rid of Roman just yet. From seeing these plays that were showed it seems clear, but these were all in the Seattle game. Where the gameplan was to SIMPLIFY plays and motions to prevent delay of games. I agree that these plays were poorly designed, but taking away motions takes away a lot of our offense, so i'll hold judgement until I can evaluate his play design a little more, and i think harbaugh will do the same thing
Originally posted by Phoenix49ers:
Originally posted by GhostofFredDean74:
Our "rudimentary" pass offense has delivered a combined QBR of 73 for the season, which would be ranked 4th in the league only behind Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Matt Ryan....and ahead of guys like Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, RGIII, Russell Wilson, Big Ben, Romo, Luck, etc.

Call it what you want, I call it "highly productive."

25th ranked passing attack......highly productive indeed.

You're just looking at pure yardage....that's called "highly misleading." The Saints, Lions and Cowboys were 1, 2 and 3 in terms of passing yards this season, and they'll be watching the playoffs from home just like you and me. We don't pass often, thus the minimal passing yardage...but when we do throw, we're as effective as any team in the league. Combine that with our run game, and this is a highly productive offense. But you can choose to look at things however you wish...
[ Edited by GhostofFredDean74 on Dec 31, 2012 at 1:43 PM ]
Originally posted by NinerDieHard:
i disagree on your alex point considering he was playing very well prior to the injury. I do agree with your akers point though because there really isn't anyone else out there, if there was a legatron 2.0 on FA a team would have gotten him by now so there's really not options at kicker until the draft.

But I'm not sure if Harbaugh will get rid of Roman just yet. From seeing these plays that were showed it seems clear, but these were all in the Seattle game. Where the gameplan was to SIMPLIFY plays and motions to prevent delay of games. I agree that these plays were poorly designed, but taking away motions takes away a lot of our offense, so i'll hold judgement until I can evaluate his play design a little more, and i think harbaugh will do the same thing

I'm just hoping that Roman walks away, and if O'Brien gets an NFL head coaching gig, its very likely that Roman winds up as head coach of Penn State.
Originally posted by GhostofFredDean74:
You're just looking at pure yardage....that's called "highly misleading." We don't pass often, thus the minimal passing yardage...but when we do throw, we're as effective as any team in the league. Combine that with our run game, and this is a highly productive offense. But you can choose to look at things however you wish...

You're a funny guy, I'll give you that.
[ Edited by Phoenix49ers on Dec 31, 2012 at 1:42 PM ]
Originally posted by Phoenix49ers:
Originally posted by GhostofFredDean74:
You're just looking at pure yardage....that's called "highly misleading." We don't pass often, thus the minimal passing yardage...but when we do throw, we're as effective as any team in the league. Combine that with our run game, and this is a highly productive offense. But you can choose to look at things however you wish...

You're a funny guy, I'll give you that.

I'm just stating facts as opposed to opinion. Our QBs were as effective throwing the ball as any in the league this year (top 5 in both QBR and traditional rating), but we didn't throw that much (31st in pass attempts). Facts. You're simply choosing your opinion over facts, and that's your right.
[ Edited by GhostofFredDean74 on Dec 31, 2012 at 1:49 PM ]
Originally posted by GhostofFredDean74:
I'm just stating facts as opposed to opinion. Our QBs were as effective throwing the ball as any in the league this year (top 5 in both QBR and traditional rating), but we didn't throw that much (31st in pass attempts). Facts.

Yes because QBR and QB rating tell the whole story.

You're right, the 49ers had more effective passing games than the Packers, Redskins, Giants, Cowboys and Colts. I especially love how they can make plays whenever they need them, have a nice consistent offensive flow, score when in the red-zone and convert third downs at a high percentage.
Also if you go back and look at the Randy Moss TD against NE , Him and delanie were mere inches away from each other. im not sure which one ran the wrong route or poor play design
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=nUUS24bDVX8
@2:40
[ Edited by 94605NiNer on Dec 31, 2012 at 2:01 PM ]
Originally posted by Phoenix49ers:
Originally posted by GhostofFredDean74:
I'm just stating facts as opposed to opinion. Our QBs were as effective throwing the ball as any in the league this year (top 5 in both QBR and traditional rating), but we didn't throw that much (31st in pass attempts). Facts.

Yes because QBR and QB rating tell the whole story.

You're right, the 49ers had more effective passing games than the Packers, Redskins, Giants, Cowboys and Colts. I especially love how they can make plays whenever they need them, have a nice consistent offensive flow, score when in the red-zone and convert third downs at a high percentage.

Yes, I am right that we had a more effective passing game FOR THE ENTIRE SEASON OVERALL than those teams (pesky facts). But I never said we could "make plays whenever we need them," or that we have a "nice consistent offensive flow," or that we "score in the red-zone and convert third downs at a high percentage." Two things can be equally true...we can have a quantifiably effective passing game AND still not do those things you mentioned.

If you want to argue those other points, we can. But that doesn't change the facts that OVERALL, when we threw the ball (which wasn't that often), we did so VERY effectively. Very effectively, however, doesn't mean ALL THE TIME/EVERY TIME. It means, "in the aggregate," this team was more effective throwing the football than many people on this board are giving it credit for.

I would argue that if we threw the ball more (and run less, and bring in those various personnel packages less), we might've had more success on 3rd downs, we probably would've had a better offensive flow than we did which might've made us more effective in the red-zone. But we chose a different path, to rely more on the run game, multiple personnel packages/formations, the occasional big pass play and a smothering defense.

So far, that formula has give us a record of 24-7-1, two NFC west titles and one appearance in the NFC title game in 2 years while being one playoff win away from another shot at a Super Bowl (I know, I know, more inconvenient facts). But hey, if those results aren't acceptable to you, that's cool. I'm pretty happy with that myself, but I'm probably just weird.
[ Edited by GhostofFredDean74 on Dec 31, 2012 at 2:13 PM ]