There are 309 users in the forums

Remember
Not a member? Register Now!

Why the 49ers offensive will experience an evolution this season

  • MarkD
  • Veteran
  • Posts: 922
Does anyone really know what offense the 49ers run? Not really and I believe that's by design . Other teams do not know from week to week what they are going to get .
Originally posted by MarkD:
Does anyone really know what offense the 49ers run? Not really and I believe that's by design . Other teams do not know from week to week what they are going to get .

This is true....it really is a multiple offensive set. It's power run, read option, spread sets, and elements of WCO passing. Thus far it has been a more pronounced run offense that has stressed limited turnovers out of the passing game. While the passing game hasn't put up the total number, the effecicency stats have placed the attack in the top half if the league.

As for 2014, I do think we will run more 3/4 WR set and I think we will pass a little more. However, i still do not see us throwing the ball more than 500 times. I think the most pass heavy we would ever be would still result in an almost 50/50 pass/rush ratio. If I had to make a prediction for our total offense I think we will pass for 220-230 ypg and rush for around 150 ypg. That would roughly get you an offense that in that 375 ypg range. Production like that should place you solidly in the top 10 in the league. Also these numbers represent a slight increase over the numbers the team was putting up when crabs returned last season.

If the team where to reach this level of offense, barring a complete breakdown on the defensive side of the ball, a 12-13 win season should be attainable. Let's just hope we don't have a '96-'98 situation in that the defense was top 5 in both '96 and '97 but the offense scuffled due to Steve's injuries and lack of run game. Finally in '98 the offense puts up the finest statistical year we've ever had (425 ypg), but the defense fell to a bottom third unit in the league.
[ Edited by Niners816 on Jun 12, 2014 at 6:17 AM ]
Originally posted by Niners816:
Originally posted by MarkD:
Does anyone really know what offense the 49ers run? Not really and I believe that's by design . Other teams do not know from week to week what they are going to get .

This is true....it really is a multiple offensive set. It's power run, read option, spread sets, and elements of WCO passing. Thus far it has been a more pronounced run offense that has stressed limited turnovers out of the passing game. While the passing game hasn't put up the total number, the effecicency stats have placed the attack in the top half if the league.

As for 2014, I do think we will run more 3/4 WR set and I think we will pass a little more. However, i still do not see us throwing the ball more than 500 times. I think the most pass heavy we would ever be would still result in an almost 50/50 pass/rush ratio. If I had to make a prediction for our total offense I think we will pass for 220-230 ypg and rush for around 150 ypg. That would roughly get you an offense that in that 375 ypg range. Production like that should place you solidly in the top 10 in the league. Also these numbers represent a slight increase over the numbers the team was putting up when crabs returned last season.

If the team where to reach this level of offense, barring a complete breakdown on the defensive side of the ball, a 12-13 win season should be attainable.

Great point, the 49ers do not have a set offensive style which is a good reason to believe an evolution of sorts is even easier to successfully transition to when the situation fits like I believe it now does. I do agree that the run/pass ratio won't go overly pass heavy given our talent on the OL and RB positions, I do see us utilizing the weapons more effectively and getting the ball downfield more. I think maybe your passing ypg prediction is a bit low, given the additional play makers and improvement on the OL, I strongly believe we'll see a much better completion % out of Kaepernick this year which will lead to a greater addition in terms of passing YPG over last year.
Originally posted by matt49er:
Great point, the 49ers do not have a set offensive style which is a good reason to believe an evolution of sorts is even easier to successfully transition to when the situation fits like I believe it now does. I do agree that the run/pass ratio won't go overly pass heavy given our talent on the OL and RB positions, I do see us utilizing the weapons more effectively and getting the ball downfield more. I think maybe your passing ypg prediction is a bit low, given the additional play makers and improvement on the OL, I strongly believe we'll see a much better completion % out of Kaepernick this year which will lead to a greater addition in terms of passing YPG over last year.

Trust me, I hope my prediction is a conservative estimate . I agree that kaeps comp. % should improve, he was basically at 62% when crabs returned. I don't think it would be that big of a stretch to see it reach that 63-65% level. Now if we see a jump to 66% + then you are getting into steve and joe territory and throwing for 4000 with less than 500 attempts is more than attainable. At that level you are looking at a 260+ Ypg passing Attack.
[ Edited by Niners816 on Jun 12, 2014 at 6:29 AM ]
Originally posted by NinerBuff:
Great thread!

I hope your right and I envision a lot of what you said...

However, I doubt very much that Kaep will run more than he did during last season. There's too much riding on his health. The number 1 reason we will see an improvement this year will be his ability to get to the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th reads. The FO seems to prioritize this with the people and coaches they're bringing in.

Realistically, I see a slight improvement in completion % and ypa this year, with approx. 3800 yds passing and 27 TDs. Add in another 500 yds rushing and 5 TDs and you're looking at a serious All-Pro season... cough... De-escalators...

I agree that Gore will have a reduced role, but pass protection remains the primary reason he still will be used more than some of us would like. Lattimore / Hyde would have to demonstrate adequate pass protection to see the field. LMJ only makes the team if we can't get away from him as our returner. Hunter still remains our #2 until proven otherwise. I will say that I don't see a top 3 rushing attack because of an improved passing attack and a less imposing defense. We won't have the luxury of grinding out wins like we've become accustomed to with Bowman and Smith out, and J. Smith getting older. We'll still have a good unit, but it'll slip a few notches.
What NFL QB has time to get through 4 reads consistently? They usually have a first, second and a check down to a RB.

Maybe Russell Wilson, but he runs around like an idiot in the backfield waiting for someone to get open.
Originally posted by BleedsRedNGold:
What NFL QB has time to get through 4 reads consistently? They usually have a first, second and a check down to a RB.

Maybe Russell Wilson, but he runs around like an idiot in the backfield waiting for someone to get open.

Joe Montana vs Denver in Super Bowl XXIV

Seriously tho, you nailed it, it's primary, secondary and checkdowns. However kaeps legs, could buy him enough time to get to a possible 4th read on a rare occasion.
[ Edited by Niners816 on Jun 12, 2014 at 6:39 AM ]
Originally posted by defenderDX:
It all looks good on paper....... Paper...... How many times have we said similar things in prior years? Then we come to find out our talent doesn't get utilized to it's maximum potential and we end up yelling and screaming at the coaching staff, or Greg Roman. OR, injuries happen and it doesn't play out on paper like we initially expected it to during the corresponding offeseason.

Don't hold your breath! Not trying to be a debbie downer, but until I see what we have translate from the PAPER to the FIELD in GAMES I will not get too excited..

And as the great Kenny Mayne used to say....games are not played on paper...they are played inside your television set. Seriously though, love the post.
Originally posted by matt49er:
Many (including myself) have criticized the 49ers offensive philosophy and the man in charge of calling the plays OC Greg Roman. Issues including the teams execution in the Red Zone, tendency to lean too much on Frank Gore, running Gore into 8 man fronts out of the power I over and over again, lack of utilizing certain players talents like LMJ and an overall lack of offensive diversity and explosion.

While I agree with all these critiques, I also believe there was a reason these things happened & it's not that Greg Roman sucks (although again, I want to point out that I have personally expressed some frustration with him at times) but rather that the 49ers were working with what they had & packaged the offensive and team philosophy around the following principles:

Taking care of the ball, Being a power run first offense, Controlling the LOS & Relying more on the Defense than the offense.

As frustrating as this philosophy was at times, it did work, 3 straight NFCCG appearances & a SB birth is hardly failure. But I believe that's all about to change & we're about to see the birth of a 49ers offensive evolution. And here's why:

True starting QB longevity is finally achieved with Kaepernick's extension: Think about it, this is the 1st time in the Harbaugh era we have truly known who our starting QB is going to be long term. in 2011, nobody knew if Smith would be any good, even after that with his 3 year extension we drafted Kaep in the 2nd round and pursued Manning, hardly a sign of confidence in our signal caller. Then Kaep took over mid-season for an injured Alex & regardless of what anybody says, last season being his first as a FT starter, Kaep was still showing this organization what he had, the contract extension gives us a QB we can design our offense around and we finally have that.

True weapons & depth at all offensive positions: Even last season it looked like we were going to have this with the Boldin trade & drafting McDonald in the 2nd round, but once Crabs got hurt, our lack of depth was exposed and even if Bill Walsh was calling the plays, no way that group of play makers could have allowed this offense to be anything more than it was. This off season the Niners showed a concerted effort to change all that by adding quality depth everywhere on offense. At the QB position we brought in another passer with a similar skill set to Kaep in Josh Johnson & trading for Gabbert, a player I view as very similar to Alex Smith. Extended FB Bruce Miller, drafted Carlos Hyde in the 2nd round (not to mention Lattimore coming back) to improve the backfield. Re-signing Boldin, being extremely careful with Crabtree in OTAs, signing Brandon Lloyd, trading for Stevie Johnson & drafting Bruce Ellington shows that the team is serious about depth at the WR position & will be prepared in case of injury. Extending Kilgore, trading for J.Martin, drafting Thomas and Martin greatly improve OL depth.

Focus on route running & RZ Execution: Neither Stevie Johnson or Brandon Lloyd (or Bruce Ellington for that matter) are considered burners, they are fast but not true burner/deep threat type WRs. What they are, are tremendous route runners with good hands who know how to beat CBs and find the open seam to make plays all over the field. This is a complicated offense, not one that necessarily relies on a guy just flat out burning his defender to get open but a series of things going right and the player making the smart play to get open. The 49ers have this in Crabtree & Boldin already, now having 4 or 5 WRs that can do this, along with VD's great speed & size (I also think he's a much better route runner than some give him credit for btw) the Niners finally have a large group of playmakers to spread the defense out and be a truly dangerous passing offense. Lloyd is excellent in the RZ and although everybody harps on the ball he dropped, so is S.Johnson, this will take Kaepernick breaking his tendency of looking at Crabtree only in the RZ & looking at all his options & making the right decision. I feel that this bad habit was formed because he wasn't used to having so many good/great targets, he will quickly get used to not only having more weapons but having better pass protection from him OL (more on that below) and a more wide open approach to the offense.

Better OL pass protection: This is pretty simple to me. Jonathan Goodwin was the weak link to the OL and hurt the entire line IMO. Whomever wins the C job, Kilgore or Martin, the team will see a big improvement. I'm also in the camp that both Iupati and A.Davis were hurt most of the year last year & that effected our performance on the line, especially pass protection. Now I know we can't guarantee those guys or others won't get hurt also, but as pointed out above, the additions of J.Martin, M.Martin and Kilgore stepping up as either a starter or a top backup, the depth is improved. I believe the coaching staff would be much more comfortable sitting an Iupati, A.Davis or whoever for a game or however long it takes for said player to get themselves healthy while the new backups step in and play than they were last year with guys like A.Snyder (who I think gets cut this year unless we have injuries that force him onto the roster) or forcing a major shift in the OL by moving Boone to OT & putting in another OG. Better pass protection, means Kaepernick will be more comfortable in the pocket & will have more time to make his reads & deliver the football.

Put it all together, and this is what I expect to see out of the 2014/15 San Francisco 49ers (on our way to our 6th SB title BTW):

More 3-4 WR sets: This is simple to me. The 49ers had one good WR last year for most of the year, then when Crabtree came back we had just 2. In 2012 Crabtree was our only legit receiving threat at WR, Moss was over the hill and I don't care that Ginn had a good year at Carolina last year, he's not a good WR, neither is Manningham. This year we have 4 WRs with 1,000 yard seasons on their resume (3 recently), 2 young promising receivers (Patton, Ellington). Many criticized the lack of these sets played in the past, but the fact remains, we have never had the personnel to effectively run a more open/spread formation offense using multiple WRs, that is, until now.

Kaepernick with a longer leash: Unless you're blind you've noticed a more free Colin Kaepernick in the playoffs. Many more designed runs/rollouts, it was almost like the team took the shackles off him & allowed him to be himself & the results weren't just good, they were terrific. Kaep flat out kills teams when he runs the football. To be clear, I'm not suggesting that the 49ers are suddenly going to have Kaep run the ball 15+ times per game, I'm suggesting they won't be as careful with him as they have in the past during the regular season. The reason, better depth behind him at QB, a better OL, more depth at RB/WR & most importantly, I think the coaching staff's confidence in him will continue to grow. He's shown he knows how to avoid hits when running by sliding or getting out of bounds when he needs to instead of taking an unnecessary hit. Kaepernicks scrambling/running ability being utilized more will not only produce yards but will put defenses on their heels which will in turn, open up the passing game even more.

Which leads me to my next point on CK, the teams philosophy with both Smith and Kaep as the starter was to avoid INTs at all costs, this led to less deep throws & more conservative pass play calling. I expect those strings to be loosened also, we've already seen this when the QB changed from AS to CK, this will just continue as CK becomes better at reading defenses, more comfortable in the pocket & with his increased offensive weapons.

Less Frank Gore: Like many, I say this every single year, we need to see less Frank Gore. Not because I don't love Gore, or that I don't think he's great, because I do. We need more diversity in the run game and we need to save Frankie G more for the playoff run. The problem, we haven't had a backup that didn't telegraph what we were doing if we brought that guy in and took FG out. You know Hunter or LMJ aren't going to power between the tackles like Gore, if they get the ball, they are probably going outside and you just can't tip off NFL defenses like that. Now, with Lattimore ready to take the field and Hyde coming into the fold (not to mention Hunter probably being more explosive more than a full year after his ACL surgery) the running game finally has not 2, but 3 guys you can put in the game with the same look. Don't get me wrong here, Gore will still lead this team in carries & rushing yards, likely rushing TDs also & although I see the offense evolving a great deal, no way Harbaugh/Roman abandon the power running game & they shouldn't. The 49ers are awesome at the power running game & it will remain a big part of the offense, the big difference is now we have 3 guys to run it, not just one.

Conclusion: This is one of, if not the most talented offensive units top to bottom with maybe the best OL in football with a young stud QB leading it. A great mixture of veterans & young players at each position & the ability to do, pretty much anything they can dream up for the first time in a very long time. The 49ers have been right there relying on a great running game, defense and ball control/protection. Despite all this, I've always thought that Harbaugh, a former NFL QB has always envisioned more out of his offense & now that he finally has the tools to put that vision into practice, we're about to see something special fellow 49er fans. I not only expect the rushing offense to remain in the top 3 of the league, I expect it to improve with more Kaepernick runs, a fresher/healthier Frank Gore & the additions of Lattimore/Hyde. And a much more creative/wide-open passing game that exploits the talents of the many skilled play makers this team now has at it's disposal. It's going to be a fun year guys and I see this team reclaiming the NFC West with a 13-3 record securing home field advantage throughout the playoff & winning the Super Bowl capturing #6.

so agree with this, if we can light teams up with our offense and our defense is just devastating, it's a good feeling.
Very very good post. Almost perfectly spoken. I feel with kaps development and now added wr weapons, we will become more of a passing team by at least 5-10 percent. Plus the fact that our offense may have to pull more weight and not rely on our defense without Aldon and bowman so our coache and gm anticipated this and learned by recent history that if a wr gets injured we are screwed. So we went out and got Lloyd and s Johnson just in case this happened again, our offense would have more than 1 wr.

The fact that we now have multiple options at wr, we will pass more and Wrs will get open more. This was a problem for the last 3 years and the main reason we lost the last 3 years. This year I think we win it all for this very simple fact that we have more than one good player at the wr position. That's all we needed for the lat z3 years and now we have it. Even if kaep improves 5% the fact that the Wrs will get seperation or get open more consistently should be enough to win the sb
you forgot to cite your sources..
Originally posted by Niners816:
Originally posted by BleedsRedNGold:
What NFL QB has time to get through 4 reads consistently? They usually have a first, second and a check down to a RB.

Maybe Russell Wilson, but he runs around like an idiot in the backfield waiting for someone to get open.

Joe Montana vs Denver in Super Bowl XXIV

Seriously tho, you nailed it, it's primary, secondary and checkdowns. However kaeps legs, could buy him enough time to get to a possible 4th read on a rare occasion.

I was vague when I said 2nd, 3rd, and 4th reads. I totally agree that it's 1st (~60%), 2nd (~25%), 3rd (~12%), and 4th (~3%)... It'll be a very rare occurance to get to the 3rd read, much less the forth... My bad for derailing my post

On the topic of designed runs, I expect 1 or 2 designed runs a game, 2 or 3 scrambles a game, and maybe 5 to 7 roll-outs. That way, were utilizing Kaep's athleticism, and keeping the defense honest while minimizing injury potential. The dramatic improvement in Kaep's QB rating during roll-outs should dictate an increase in those plays (you would think)...
Originally posted by NinerBuff:
I was vague when I said 2nd, 3rd, and 4th reads. I totally agree that it's 1st (~60%), 2nd (~25%), 3rd (~12%), and 4th (~3%)... It'll be a very rare occurance to get to the 3rd read, much less the forth... My bad for derailing my post

On the topic of designed runs, I expect 1 or 2 designed runs a game, 2 or 3 scrambles a game, and maybe 5 to 7 roll-outs. That way, were utilizing Kaep's athleticism, and keeping the defense honest while minimizing injury potential. The dramatic improvement in Kaep's QB rating during roll-outs should dictate an increase in those plays (you would think)...

It's cool...you point is spot on tho, when kaep gets to the level that he is allowing the offense (at least the WCO concept portion of it)to work for him that is when you are gonna see a dramatic improvement in the passing attack.

Honestly when I saw 4th read, the first thought in my mind was joe in the aforementioned Super Bowl. I will take any opportunity to refer game.
Originally posted by elguapo:
Very very good post. Almost perfectly spoken. I feel with kaps development and now added wr weapons, we will become more of a passing team by at least 5-10 percent. Plus the fact that our offense may have to pull more weight and not rely on our defense without Aldon and bowman so our coache and gm anticipated this and learned by recent history that if a wr gets injured we are screwed. So we went out and got Lloyd and s Johnson just in case this happened again, our offense would have more than 1 wr.

The fact that we now have multiple options at wr, we will pass more and Wrs will get open more. This was a problem for the last 3 years and the main reason we lost the last 3 years. This year I think we win it all for this very simple fact that we have more than one good player at the wr position. That's all we needed for the lat z3 years and now we have it. Even if kaep improves 5% the fact that the Wrs will get seperation or get open more consistently should be enough to win the sb

Excuse me almost? J/K man, TY, I appreciate it.
I would be ok with the offense making only a few minor changes, and that's adding a few 3 or 4 WR sets to the playbook , and how about throwing to our backs a little bit ...we have the talent to run any style of offense we want ...its good to have options
I agree with several of your points - however, I do disagree in that I don't see us going to many 3-4 receiver sets. That's just not our style, doesn't fit our run game or the skill sets of our receivers.

Because we are a run first team, most defenses are going to be playing some combination of single safety/single high safety defense against us. Contrary to what many people will often talk about, this is not where your burners are most effective, burners are most effective against 2 high safety coverage, because it forces a safety to vacate a deep half or quarter zone, opening up the middle/post areas of the field while also having the possibility of hitting the deep strike if the safety is out of position.

Here's some examples:



Here you'll see the Jaguars have come out in a cover 3 zone, press coverage. The press is really only from position, not necessarily meaning they will physically press the receivers. Our receivers do get free releases on this play. The yellow highlights the optimal routes to be a deep 3rd coverage technique because the corner will be looking to stay upfield of the receiver to not let the receiver behind him. This is the proverbial "island" so often talked about. That the corner has a tough job because the receiver has so many ways to go that the corners job is much more difficult. The red is the route Williams runs.



The corner gets into the hip pocket and uses his length to keep in position against the receiver(look familiar?)




Kaep is forced to make a back shoulder throw and the ball is incomplete.



Here we see the same defense again. This time Boldin is lined up against the same corner.



you see how Boldin determines how the corner is going to play him by running slightly towards the sideline on his routes to begin with which causes the corner to turn his hips slightly out.



Then, because Boldin turned the corners hips out, he's able to take advantage of the player who's hips are now out of position to take an inside route and create seperation.



You see how much separation is created in a short route because of the good route running against a cover 3. If this were cover 2 man or zone - which is created when we go 3-4 receiver sets, the receiver doesn't have the advantage of the corner having to play deep responsibility. The corner can squat underneath and keep his hips square to the receiver to not allow in/out/curl cutting routes.

Because all of our receivers are primarily route runners and runners after the catch, we look to get them in open spaces against their defenders. I think as badly as many of us want to see our offense explode into the Broncos offense or the niners of old, I don't think it'll happen. What I do see, is the additions adding a lot of depth and diversity so that defenses have to gameplan more for different players and, with an effective, steady dose of quick, good route running playmakers, we can force more teams into a cover 2 and open up the box for our run game and for VD deep. I think if we go multiple receiver sets - we'll actually work against our strengths.

Now, against Seattle, I see us imploring more 3-4 receiver sets because they're Nickel corner is a downgrade over a LB for them plus, Chancellor is not good in deep space because he's pretty tight in the hips.