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Do we "scheme" our passing attack?

It must be nice to have WR's you can just throw up "helium balloon" passes and not have a worry in the world. Must be really nice!
I think NCommand hit the nail on the head. But, think about what kind of situation this team has been in for the last two years.

First, Harbaugh had to me make lemonade with Alex Smith during a lock out offseason. Roman and Harbaugh both knew it was going to be a work in progress and they adjusted as the season went on. They rehabbed Smith, drafted and groomed Kaep, and then took the ride on defense and STs.STILL made it that far, Championship Game, with no WRs and a "college offense." I am in full agreement, NCommand is calling a spade a spade. It's what I would expect from a coaching staff from college having to make do.

I can't remember where I read it, but I read an article were someone broke down what Harbaugh did for Smith's reads against the blitz. I can't remember the intricacies but he limited the available options (booms down field), and went with the safer check downs (someone is always hot--one option). Smith thrived with that. But, they could install anything more complicated at the time. For the sake of time, they had to treat this offense as if they were in college (limited amount of time to install plays and work chemistry). Smith only had chemistry with Davis anyway and that was before Harbaugh regime.

This year--year 2 now--our #1 went down half way through the year. Keap can make things happen with his legs and we are a better--bit still not good--ad lib team with him. That is why I think Harbaugh stuck with Kaep. Again, this was a kid in his second year. Again, limited time. Again, having to make things work for Kaep. Kaep couldn't be (realistically) expected to read defenses like Peyton Manning yet. To their credit, they changed the O, a little bit one week at a time until the Pistol was a complete scheme. It's marvelous to me that they did that as the season went on. Again, this is what I would expect from a college staff, in year 2, with a QB in his year 2.

It takes YEARS to perfect this stuff.
100% agree. And like Chucky said, "I have no IDEA what this offense is..."

It's a conglomerate of a whole bunch of different types. I'm not even sure what our identity is but I expect it to evolve with time. I do hope they consider no longer compartmentalizing the plan and look for more "flow" within it and esp. better game planning and execution to start games.

But to go as far as we did after switching major gears mid season (and all the injuries and the defense falling off) is very impressive.
Seem to recall Roman talking about each play having a designed receiver (1st read) and the other receivers were to help that guy get open--assume picks, screens, and diversion routes. Walsh used these but he concentrated on teaching the QB to progress through reads quickly--three and sometimes four reads within a two second window. Each play was designed for receivers to come open in sequence--short route, mid route to long route, etc. Reading the defense is obviously important, so film study is key--what does this D normally do with this situation, what D players are capable of doing, etc.

Not sure whether Roman was speaking generally or about specific plays that were asked about at the press conference--can someone teach the bay area media and the 9ers to use mic's when they ask questions during the pressers?
This is correct dtg. In fact, the final 4 plays really highlight this from top to bottom. Each one-read, targeted receiver has two responsibilities as well. If he is unable to get open (or the QB doesn't throw it timely), his job is to turn and block for CK (and when/if CK doesn't run), THEN try to disengage and get open. Fail.
The sick irony in all of this is that we were, up until the SB, quite effective in the RZ during the playoffs--to a much more successful degree than we had been at any other time during the Harbs/Roman era. I believe the stat I read said we were 7/9 in divisional and CG. We achieved that with a mix of run and pass, using well designed pass plays to get the score.

Now, I know BAL has a very good RZ D, but, on that final series (and on the one that led to our first FG) we did more to stop ourselves than BAL did. Against GB, we used a quick slant route and corner/underneath dig route to get Crabs' TDs. We even ran that same corner/dig combo in the ATL game when Crabs fumbled at the GL. Now, I understand that that route was on film and BAL would have studied up that look...nonetheless, the fact remains that our greatest, most important successes passing the ball in the RZ over the past 2 years have been on routes towards the middle of the field--probably because these best suit our big-bodied, powerful primary receiving options (VD, Crabs, and Walker). Walker scored on a slant against DET with Crabs running an out/corner underneath him; Crabs 2 TDs against GB in the playoffs; the 'Vernon post', etc. If we were going to pass, those were the routes we should have run.

Instead, as has been covered (and I've perseverated over ) ad nauseum, Roman not only called passing plays but passing plays with terrible route combinations. I'm glad this thread his here, and others have pointed out what I also noticed: all 3 pass plays were essentially one WR routes, all to the right corner of the field, further limiting space in already close quarters. I just don't get it. Slants are the classic blitz beaters. We have 3 guys with big bodies, and Crabs in particular makes his $$$$ in the middle of the field. Both 2nd and 3rd down plays were obviously designed for Crabs and Crabs alone; this is extremely clear on 3rd down when the protection held and Walker or Vd comes open from the TE position, but Kaep is already throwing a short out route to Crabs that, had he maintained possession, would have only gained 2 yards because the decoy (Moss) ran a fly route from 5 yards out that did nothing to draw his man away. If that's the call, at the very least send Moss to the center of the field so Crabs is one-on-one on the outside. I just don't get it, and really never will.
Originally posted by merm49:
...nonetheless, the fact remains that our greatest, most important successes passing the ball in the RZ over the past 2 years have been on routes towards the middle of the field--probably because these best suit our big-bodied, powerful primary receiving options (VD, Crabs, and Walker). Walker scored on a slant against DET with Crabs running an out/corner underneath him; Crabs 2 TDs against GB in the playoffs; the 'Vernon post', etc. If we were going to pass, those were the routes we should have run.

This, in a nutshell. It's one of the reasons I'm not a huge Roman fan. His situational awareness is clueless at times.

But to your original point, no question. You HAVE to know the Ravens are coming blitz every time right up the gut...hell, we had 4 previous plays prior to that final down for proof. THE best option is a naked bootleg to the left side of the field OR quick passes to routes run behind the DL. To further exasperate it, Reed was the ONLY defender back there when they blitzed. CK could line up in shot gun, Gore/James block and throw a simple 2-second quick strike to VD, Walker, Crabtree, hell Celek, Moss, Miller (nobody would expect that one), etc. A Myriad of options.

This is EXACTLY what Flacco/OC did against us prior to that with Boldin/Pitta and we had underneath (LBers) and top-end help (Whitner) and they still easily converted.

To his credit, the student-body left call for CK to run was probably a TD until Harbaugh called a TO. Young mistakes cost us across the board (CK, Harbaugh, Roman, James, McBath, Culliver, etc.).
Originally posted by dtg_9er:
Seem to recall Roman talking about each play having a designed receiver (1st read) and the other receivers were to help that guy get open--assume picks, screens, and diversion routes. Walsh used these but he concentrated on teaching the QB to progress through reads quickly--three and sometimes four reads within a two second window. Each play was designed for receivers to come open in sequence--short route, mid route to long route, etc.

I attended Al Borges coaching camp years ago( when he was With Auburn) the amount of positioning that takes place in a time based WCO is staggering. Its all in place to generate RAC yards.

Borges spent 3 hours on how a the TEs ability to disrupt the LBers makes Flanker quick slants work or fail.

I kinda just snicker now when a poster says bla bla can't get seperation in the NFL. Like we have any idea what the player is coached to do.

Like CK can't hit VD...or VD regressed...until the Playbook said get the ball to VD...the the guy "had a good game"
[ Edited by Dshearn on Feb 12, 2013 at 11:05 AM ]
Originally posted by NCommand:
This, in a nutshell. It's one of the reasons I'm not a huge Roman fan. His situational awareness is clueless at times.

But to your original point, no question. You HAVE to know the Ravens are coming blitz every time right up the gut...hell, we had 4 previous plays prior to that final down for proof. THE best option is a naked bootleg to the left side of the field OR quick passes to routes run behind the DL. To further exasperate it, Reed was the ONLY defender back there when they blitzed. CK could line up in shot gun, Gore/James block and throw a simple 2-second quick strike to VD, Walker, Crabtree, hell Celek, Moss, Miller (nobody would expect that one), etc. A Myriad of options.

This is EXACTLY what Flacco/OC did against us prior to that with Boldin/Pitta and we had underneath (LBers) and top-end help (Whitner) and they still easily converted.

To his credit, the student-body left call for CK to run was probably a TD until Harbaugh called a TO. Young mistakes cost us across the board (CK, Harbaugh, Roman, James, McBath, Culliver, etc.).

Do you think that the fact that our offense is structured in such a way, that it will hurt us in these crucial moments? I chock a lot of it up to a young quarterback and a young coaching staff (by NFL standards) in, a patch-work, great yes, but patchwork system.

I wonder if we're just building our offense in a way, because our coaching staff had minimal time to put the system around Alex Smith last season, and then minimal time to re-create the offense around Kaepernick, a raw, second-year quarterback.

Obviously, the offense is very explosive and we've got some tools, but some of our situational passing plays haven't been the best. I like to think that it's one of those things that take time as the offense evolves over the next few years. I'd hate to see our potential get limited.
Originally posted by merm49:
The sick irony in all of this is that we were, up until the SB, quite effective in the RZ during the playoffs--to a much more successful degree than we had been at any other time during the Harbs/Roman era. I believe the stat I read said we were 7/9 in divisional and CG. We achieved that with a mix of run and pass, using well designed pass plays to get the score.

Now, I know BAL has a very good RZ D, but, on that final series (and on the one that led to our first FG) we did more to stop ourselves than BAL did. Against GB, we used a quick slant route and corner/underneath dig route to get Crabs' TDs. We even ran that same corner/dig combo in the ATL game when Crabs fumbled at the GL. Now, I understand that that route was on film and BAL would have studied up that look...nonetheless, the fact remains that our greatest, most important successes passing the ball in the RZ over the past 2 years have been on routes towards the middle of the field--probably because these best suit our big-bodied, powerful primary receiving options (VD, Crabs, and Walker). Walker scored on a slant against DET with Crabs running an out/corner underneath him; Crabs 2 TDs against GB in the playoffs; the 'Vernon post', etc. If we were going to pass, those were the routes we should have run.

Instead, as has been covered (and I've perseverated over ) ad nauseum, Roman not only called passing plays but passing plays with terrible route combinations. I'm glad this thread his here, and others have pointed out what I also noticed: all 3 pass plays were essentially one WR routes, all to the right corner of the field, further limiting space in already close quarters. I just don't get it. Slants are the classic blitz beaters. We have 3 guys with big bodies, and Crabs in particular makes his $$$$ in the middle of the field. Both 2nd and 3rd down plays were obviously designed for Crabs and Crabs alone; this is extremely clear on 3rd down when the protection held and Walker or Vd comes open from the TE position, but Kaep is already throwing a short out route to Crabs that, had he maintained possession, would have only gained 2 yards because the decoy (Moss) ran a fly route from 5 yards out that did nothing to draw his man away. If that's the call, at the very least send Moss to the center of the field so Crabs is one-on-one on the outside. I just don't get it, and really never will.

Did you notice that the Ravens used that against us? Same damn play!

Also, they used the play GB used to score a TD. Boldin's TD was the exact same thing GB did where the WR is lined up in the slot, comes in hard towards the MLB (Bowman) like a slant, and then cuts it short only to go straight vert.....SMH
Originally posted by Wubbie:
Do you think that the fact that our offense is structured in such a way, that it will hurt us in these crucial moments? I chock a lot of it up to a young quarterback and a young coaching staff (by NFL standards) in, a patch-work, great yes, but patchwork system.

I wonder if we're just building our offense in a way, because our coaching staff had minimal time to put the system around Alex Smith last season, and then minimal time to re-create the offense around Kaepernick, a raw, second-year quarterback.

Obviously, the offense is very explosive and we've got some tools, but some of our situational passing plays haven't been the best. I like to think that it's one of those things that take time as the offense evolves over the next few years. I'd hate to see our potential get limited.


Interesting points! I see the change of QBs this year as Smith being at 95% of mastering the system and CK being at 75%, but CK has up to 120% as a ceiling whereas Smith would max out at 100%. So we have not seen the offense at maximum performance and even saw some regression with the QB change, but down the road this change will pay dividends.

The biggest question for me is still play calling and using a true WCO versus a run first scheme. Smith and CK are both accurate enough to use a true WCO. Imagine CK passing first but being able to punish teams for leaving too much running room! It would really open up the game much more than running Gore on 1st and 2nd downs, and then running the Pistol on 3rd and long.
[ Edited by dtg_9er on Feb 12, 2013 at 4:39 PM ]
Originally posted by Dshearn:
I attended Al Borges coaching camp years ago( when he was With Auburn) the amount of positioning that takes place in a time based WCO is staggering. Its all in place to generate RAC yards.

Borges spent 3 hours on how a the TEs ability to disrupt the LBers makes Flanker quick slants work or fail.

I kinda just snicker now when a poster says bla bla can't get seperation in the NFL. Like we have any idea what the player is coached to do.

Like CK can't hit VD...or VD regressed...until the Playbook said get the ball to VD...the the guy "had a good game"


I've wondered about the receivers being able to master Roman's pick plays. Seem to recall quite a few penalties last year but fewer this year. VD is not a quick study when it comes to learning the nuances of the game.
Originally posted by dtg_9er:
Originally posted by Dshearn:
I attended Al Borges coaching camp years ago( when he was With Auburn) the amount of positioning that takes place in a time based WCO is staggering. Its all in place to generate RAC yards.

Borges spent 3 hours on how a the TEs ability to disrupt the LBers makes Flanker quick slants work or fail.

I kinda just snicker now when a poster says bla bla can't get seperation in the NFL. Like we have any idea what the player is coached to do.

Like CK can't hit VD...or VD regressed...until the Playbook said get the ball to VD...the the guy "had a good game"


I've wondered about the receivers being able to master Roman's pick plays. Seem to recall quite a few penalties last year but fewer this year. VD is not a quick study when it comes to learning the nuances of the game.

Pick-play was epic against us...the play in Atlanta where Rogers fell on his face (with a little help from the WR pulling him down) and Culliver got caught up in it that lead to a big play to Boldin (the "face mask" play), etc. Did we run any pick-plays? And isn't it illegal now?
Originally posted by NCommand:
Pick-play was epic against us...the play in Atlanta where Rogers fell on his face (with a little help from the WR pulling him down) and Culliver got caught up in it that lead to a big play to Boldin (the "face mask" play), etc. Did we run any pick-plays? And isn't it illegal now?


It was an issue last year because the niner receivers made such obvious picks the refs couldn't miss them. But screening a DB by just getting in his way while continuing to run your route is not illegal. Big difference and the 9ers are still learning to do this effectively. I saw progress this year so hope it continues.

Last year I recall a pick by Crabtree that was a flat out block...must have been fun but definitely illegal! LOL!
Originally posted by Wubbie:
Originally posted by NCommand:
This, in a nutshell. It's one of the reasons I'm not a huge Roman fan. His situational awareness is clueless at times.

But to your original point, no question. You HAVE to know the Ravens are coming blitz every time right up the gut...hell, we had 4 previous plays prior to that final down for proof. THE best option is a naked bootleg to the left side of the field OR quick passes to routes run behind the DL. To further exasperate it, Reed was the ONLY defender back there when they blitzed. CK could line up in shot gun, Gore/James block and throw a simple 2-second quick strike to VD, Walker, Crabtree, hell Celek, Moss, Miller (nobody would expect that one), etc. A Myriad of options.

This is EXACTLY what Flacco/OC did against us prior to that with Boldin/Pitta and we had underneath (LBers) and top-end help (Whitner) and they still easily converted.

To his credit, the student-body left call for CK to run was probably a TD until Harbaugh called a TO. Young mistakes cost us across the board (CK, Harbaugh, Roman, James, McBath, Culliver, etc.).

Do you think that the fact that our offense is structured in such a way, that it will hurt us in these crucial moments? I chock a lot of it up to a young quarterback and a young coaching staff (by NFL standards) in, a patch-work, great yes, but patchwork system.

I wonder if we're just building our offense in a way, because our coaching staff had minimal time to put the system around Alex Smith last season, and then minimal time to re-create the offense around Kaepernick, a raw, second-year quarterback.

Obviously, the offense is very explosive and we've got some tools, but some of our situational passing plays haven't been the best. I like to think that it's one of those things that take time as the offense evolves over the next few years. I'd hate to see our potential get limited.

Good question. Under Alex, Roman was starting to install a WCO (although, honestly, didn't see a lot of WCO principles). We all know that bad boy takes a minimum of 3 years to install. Then, exactly 1.5 years into it, we switch gears 180-degrees and now are running some kind of base offense with a large focus on the Q offense (alignments, read-option, etc.). At this junction, I'm still with Chucky and have no clue what our offensive identity is. It's not like we can easily see that each week, like we did under Alex, new WCO principles being added (e.g. with the RZ and deep packages being installed last). This one? I would LOVE for a reporter to ask one of our key players in CK, Crabtree, Gore, Staley, etc. what kind of offense we run. Harbaugh calls Roman revolutionary but to revolutionize something, it needs to have a clear identity. I refer to it as the Anti-WCO (not that this is a bad thing) but if you take the WCO principles and do the exact opposite, that seems to be the closest I can get to defining it...right no at least. Peter King did a nice job of highlighting this diverse offense in his most recent article (re: the Superbowl).

So as to your question, I think the complexity of it and having to change gears completely mid-season is what magnifies the issues of it in these early stages (e.g. it's a lot of smoke and mirrors right now but behind these mirrors, I'm sure the coaches/players/offense is evolving into an identity).