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Offseason Coaches film analysis

So, here is some talking points and analysis I've gathered from looking at a lot of film over the past couple months. It'll take me a little while to get everything compiled, broken down and posted, so, I'll be starting with the somewhat thinner volume of stuff for the beginning. Also, if you have specific questions or talking points to go on, those are welcome as well.

I'll start with one of the bigger questions of the offseason - what will be the difference between Antoine Bethea and Donte Hitner???

Well, unfortunately, I watched a ton of film on this - and there's not much that can be supported by screen shots or even GIF's. The only real way to see the difference is in real time. But, I can speak to what I saw on film.

1. Bethea will not get nearly as many "unnecessary roughness" penalties as wHitner. Bethea isn't nearly as aggressive as wHitner was - both good and bad. He's not the physical presence in the run game the Donte was and he doesn't fly downfield to attack the LOS quite like Donte did. He does have a good understanding of his gap responsibility in run support, but, does not look to aggressively make a play on the runner. He's more of a "form" tackler - in that, he looks to square to the ball carrier and wrap up.
2. He will be in better position in his pass coverage. Bethea seems to have a good understanding of route concepts and where he should be within the defense. A lot of times last year I saw Donte slightly out of position in his underneath coverage. Donte was a better "center field" style pass coverage guy. Donte usually had a tendency to get "happy feet" in coverage and would usually drift inside on his coverage usually allowing a lot of short outs to his zone.
3. Bethea does not have the footspead that Donte does. Bethea's lack of footspead showed up a few times. He's usually in good position so it makes up for it, but, there were a few times when he was playing single safety that some WR's got several steps behind him, not because he was out of position, but because he doesn't have the straight line speed that Whitner does.
4. He's smoother in the hips than Whitner. This is one of the reasons that he was able to stay in good positions - he makes his transitions through coverage better than Donte.
5. They're both high energy, smart players who will make plays but aren't going to make a ton of "splash" plays.

Now, to the second topic:
How will Wilhoite do stepping in for Bowman?

First thing I have to say about this is, Wilhoite should improve with a full offseason, OTA's and training camp playing with the 1st string. That being said, he's quite a good football player that needs more comfort in the system and should be utilize at the "TED" much more than the "Mike".
For those who are unclear on the difference between a "TED" and "Mike" in the 3-4 here's a quick explanation:
Your TED is usually the guy you want taking on the blocks and freeing up your Mike backer so the Mike can run free. When Spikes was here he was the TED, last year Willis was the TED. In our defense last year - the two guys played interchangeably, you could see that when Wilhoite came in.

Wilhoite does a much better job in run D than pass D. He's fairly tight in the hips and his understanding of his place in the defense does not suite him for a middle of the field pass defender. He does a good job when he's given something like a "flat" zone or a "curl" zone. Here's a few examples:



Here the Texans are gonna run a stretch run play to the left. This should look familiar to us since Seattle runs this all the time.



Here Wilhoite keeps his shoulders square to the LOS - which is just what you want. He takes on the lineman well and disengages himself when he see's the RB cut back.



You see how he's able to disengage and get out towards the cutback. It's a good thing to, because the RB had a ton of room to that side of the field to cutback.



He makes a good open field tackle

Here's an example from pass defense:


Here Wilhoite ends up playing the "Mike". What he should recognize is why he's the Mike - he's the Mike because of the twin receiver side plus the offset I formation of the FB. This means that the immediate threat for passing targets are unbalanced to the weak side. The only true receiving threat to the strong side - or wide side of the field is the TE.



Houston gives a run action fake - you see Wilhoite is just a step later in his recognition than his teammates. Bowman has already started his zone drop, while Wilhoite is just realizing that it's a pass.



Notice how the TE did not enter the passing patter - so, Wilhoite should understand that the receiving threats are all to the short side of the field. Instead he takes his middle drop towards the wide side of the field. Note how much room is created in the passing lane over the middle. The big blue circle where Wilhoite is, the yellow circle is where he should be.

As a side note - I'm also pointing out Shaub's footwork mechanics. Many people have asked how Kap compares with other QB's. Now, Shaub was garbage last year, but, this is a guy who has thrown for over 4000 yards in this league. Note how his front foot is pointed towards right side. He tries to throw this ball to the open target over the middle but, because his front foot is pointed in, it causes the ball to sail out - it's like a golfer who moves his right arm out during his backswing will hit the ball left. The small blue circle is where the football ends up getting thrown. Kap is better than this with his footwork BTW.

Working on more to come: but next week will be slow as I have to go out of town for a business trip pretty much all week.
Great breakdown. In your opinion, do you think Bethea will fit well with Reid? Or to put it another way, is he an upgrade, downgrade or lateral (although different in style) move in relation to whitner?
Jonnydel I think your threads are by far my favorite on the Webzone. Good stuff in the breakdown. I think we're going to see real change on defense, obviously in personnel and also in philosophy to an extent, this season.
Originally posted by Niners816:
Great breakdown. In your opinion, do you think Bethea will fit well with Reid? Or to put it another way, is he an upgrade, downgrade or lateral (although different in style) move in relation to whitner?

I think it'll be commensurate with the lower pay we're giving Bethea over Whitner. He's not the run stopper that Whitner was - although not bad in his own right. I would put his style as a slightly slower version of Reid.

Reid is top tier talent with good closing speed and instincts with an ability to lay the thump well. In coverage, Bethea is looking more to make a play on the ball than to deliver the big hit. Also, when tackling - he takes good angles on ball carriers to make surer tackles instead of trying to knock someone's block off.

I think we'll see a few less blown assignments in the secondary, but might be more susceptible to some runs. So, it makes sense why we would choose a guy like Jimmy Ward who has the possibility to be an upgrade at the position but, if not able to assume that role this season we will have a more than capable player.
  • Giedi
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JD, I think we will be playing nickel 60+% of the time, so I'm going to say that Wilhoite won't play as much as you think. It will be P Willy as the MLB in the nickel 2-4-5 and the dime 2-3-6 defense. With Moody/Ward Subbing in for Wilhoite depending on down distance and personnel. *ASS-uming* Kaepernick really blows the doors open on this offense, we will be putting bottom feeding teams away early and often and the Base defense will not be playing much and nickel will be the closing out defense.

Strong run heavy and defensive teams like the Baltimore Ravens and Seadderall, Wilhoite will be very needed. Chris Borland might be in the mix with Wilhoite if Chris stands out in pre-season.

On the DB side, I'm hoping Darryl Morris, Ward, and Donte Johnson make an impact in the secondary. I hope Lynch really compliments Lemon-Yay, Brooks, and Aldon by being another pass rush terror.
Originally posted by jonnydel:
I think it'll be commensurate with the lower pay we're giving Bethea over Whitner. He's not the run stopper that Whitner was - although not bad in his own right. I would put his style as a slightly slower version of Reid.

Reid is top tier talent with good closing speed and instincts with an ability to lay the thump well. In coverage, Bethea is looking more to make a play on the ball than to deliver the big hit. Also, when tackling - he takes good angles on ball carriers to make surer tackles instead of trying to knock someone's block off.

I think we'll see a few less blown assignments in the secondary, but might be more susceptible to some runs. So, it makes sense why we would choose a guy like Jimmy Ward who has the possibility to be an upgrade at the position but, if not able to assume that role this season we will have a more than capable player.

That's sort of what I was thinking too. I like the tandem of ward and bethea. Ward can be a slot guy until he grows into the safety spot. And again, I think Trent nailed it by not overpaying for whitner. Now I was a whitner fan (goldson as well), but there is no way I would feel comfortable giving them the money they ended up getting.

I can see peoples concerns with the secondary, but I really think there is an opportunity for this unit to be an upgrade over our last couple of years. It's just scary right now because it's an unknown. I have a real gut feeling we are gonna like the state of our secondary once we get into the season.
  • Giedi
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Originally posted by Niners816:
That's sort of what I was thinking too. I like the tandem of ward and bethea. Ward can be a slot guy until he grows into the safety spot. And again, I think Trent nailed it by not overpaying for whitner. Now I was a whitner fan (goldson as well), but there is no way I would feel comfortable giving them the money they ended up getting.

I can see peoples concerns with the secondary, but I really think there is an opportunity for this unit to be an upgrade over our last couple of years. It's just scary right now because it's an unknown. I have a real gut feeling we are gonna like the state of our secondary once we get into the season.

I was hoping we could get a more athletically talented DB than just Ward. I was hoping for a Justin Gilbert or a Kyle Fuller kind of athlete. Instead we got Ward. Point being is that I don't know if Fangio has decided to strengthen the coverage unit as much as I'd hoped for. I still think Fangio is stuck with his Dome Patrol defense that's failed in the playoffs to stop elite passing attacks. It's my hope that Ward and the free agents are enough to upgrade the pass defense part of Fangio's Dome Patrol philosophy to deal with those playoff passing attacks, but right now, I'm not really confident in that at all. We did get DB's Johnson, Reaser, and Acker later in the draft but I don't know if this is enough to strengthen this defense to superbowl (Five wins) standards. Green Bay won with the zone blitz but in 2010 they had a shut down corner in Charles Woodson. I don't think we have that on this defense - and that's why I am dreading playing elite passing attacks in the post season.
Originally posted by Giedi:
JD, I think we will be playing nickel 60+% of the time, so I'm going to say that Wilhoite won't play as much as you think. It will be P Willy as the MLB in the nickel 2-4-5 and the dime 2-3-6 defense. With Moody/Ward Subbing in for Wilhoite depending on down distance and personnel. *ASS-uming* Kaepernick really blows the doors open on this offense, we will be putting bottom feeding teams away early and often and the Base defense will not be playing much and nickel will be the closing out defense.

Strong run heavy and defensive teams like the Baltimore Ravens and Seadderall, Wilhoite will be very needed. Chris Borland might be in the mix with Wilhoite if Chris stands out in pre-season.

On the DB side, I'm hoping Darryl Morris, Ward, and Donte Johnson make an impact in the secondary. I hope Lynch really compliments Lemon-Yay, Brooks, and Aldon by being another pass rush terror.
while very true that we play Nickel more than anything - our Nickel package does not remove the 2nd ILB, it removes the NT. So whether we're in base 3-4 or Nickel we still have our two ILB's in the game. The only time we take an ILB out is in our "Dime" or "quarter" packages. So, I expect Wilhoite to still play about 80-85% of the snaps.

For instance - if you look at the very first picture I posted - we're in a "Nickel" set. notice how there's no nose tackle, just 2 DT's.
[ Edited by jonnydel on Jun 14, 2014 at 2:47 PM ]
What's with the comment about Fangio's D not being good in the playoffs against elite passing teams???? What??? I'm talking about the Niners D. Can I tell you too that the Packers SB run did not include a shutdown corner in Woodson. Woodson was hurt for most of that Super Bowl and both secondary's were far from shut down. He may have even been playing safety or that might have been right before the switch either way at that point in his career he was a playmaker but NOT a shutdown corner. The 2012 playoff run was hurt by the lack of pass rush. We could have had Deion back there the QBs had so much time it would have hardly mattered. They did well in 2011 against the Giants we just couldn't move the ball and the Saints game was just a shoot out. Last year we shut Rodgers and Cam down pretty good and our secondary played well against the Hawks with the exception of that 4th down play. I'm not sure I see your point on that. This year although unproven I think we have more speed and athleticism than we have had in a while with the addition of a ball hawk and playmaker like Ward. D. Morris may surprise some people, Brock is solid and so is Chris. Acker has speed and ball skills and Johnson is fast and strong but really needs to be coached up. If Cook and Wright can add something we might be deep as well. Overall I think we will be much better this year and we have been pretty good the last couple of years so that bodes well. Baalke has shown he can find DBs anywhere and I think that is one of the positions he's best at scouting talent. Donatell has shown he can coach up players and has proved to be one of the best secondary coaches in the league. All in all as Coach would say arrow is pointing up.
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Originally posted by jonnydel:
while very true that we play Nickel more than anything - our Nickel package does not remove the 2nd ILB, it removes the NT. So whether we're in base 3-4 or Nickel we still have our two ILB's in the game. The only time we take an ILB out is in our "Dime" or "quarter" packages. So, I expect Wilhoite to still play about 80-85% of the snaps.

For instance - if you look at the very first picture I posted - we're in a "Nickel" set. notice how there's no nose tackle, just 2 DT's.

You probably are right, but I think the line backers can be aldon at DE Brooks at de, Willis at mlb, Nick moody at linebackersafety. Assuming Justin and Raymac play the DT positions, that leaves 5 db's. I'm assuming Cully and brock at corners, bethea at fs, reid, & ward.

I think if moody is faster and can cover better than Wilhoite, I think he should be subbed in for him. It all depends on how Moody and Wilhoite have developed - or not as the case may be over the offseason.
I thought I read that while Bowman is out, Willis is going 2 play Bow's normal position and whoever steps in for Bow will play Pat's spot.
  • thl408
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Originally posted by jonnydel:
So, here is some talking points and analysis I've gathered from looking at a lot of film over the past couple months. It'll take me a little while to get everything compiled, broken down and posted, so, I'll be starting with the somewhat thinner volume of stuff for the beginning. Also, if you have specific questions or talking points to go on, those are welcome as well.

.

What did you think of Looney's game versus the Rams when Staley went out early in the 1st period (2nd Rams game)? I'm curious to know what you think, especially now that Boone is unhappy and wants a raise. Can the 49ers feel safe relying on Looney and not feel obligated to give in to Boone? Snyder was not good filling in for Iupati yet was still getting the nod over Looney.
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Originally posted by Giedi:
You probably are right, but I think the line backers can be aldon at DE Brooks at de, Willis at mlb, Nick moody at linebackersafety. Assuming Justin and Raymac play the DT positions, that leaves 5 db's. I'm assuming Cully and brock at corners, bethea at fs, reid, & ward.

I think if moody is faster and can cover better than Wilhoite, I think he should be subbed in for him. It all depends on how Moody and Wilhoite have developed - or not as the case may be over the offseason.

I'm curious what you have seen that makes you excited about Moody taking on a contributing role, especially now with Borland on board. I didn't notice Moody much last preseason then he broke his hand. Just curious if I'm missing something regarding Moody.

I am reminded of Nolan's big nickel when I hear of the hybrid LB/SS position.
Originally posted by matt49er:
I thought I read that while Bowman is out, Willis is going 2 play Bow's normal position and whoever steps in for Bow will play Pat's spot.

This is true. In our base defense, Bow would be on the weakside, and Willis on the strongside of the formation. Willis will now move to the weakside, which is where he played earlier in his career.

The weak-side is more of a playmaking role, while the strong-side has to sift through and take on more blocks. This is why Bowman has made flashier plays than Willis the past couple years. I expect to see Willis making big plays again in this role, reminding everyone he's still just as good as he used to be.

Wilhoite and/or Borland should be able to hold down the other ILB spot until Bow gets back. They just need to be disciplined and plug their gap responsibilities. I'd imagine they would only be 2-down players, coming off the field in nickel for Jimmie Ward.
[ Edited by SofaKing on Jun 14, 2014 at 8:16 PM ]
Member Milestone: This is post number 400 for jonnydel.
Originally posted by matt49er:
I thought I read that while Bowman is out, Willis is going 2 play Bow's normal position and whoever steps in for Bow will play Pat's spot.

While this is true - the two aren't all that different from a practical perspective. From a philosophical and tactical perspective they are though.

Let me try and explain: With the 3-4 you generally have your "Mike" and "Ted" inside linebackers. Your "Mike" is going to primarily be your tackler - what Bowman played last year and what Willis played up until Bowman emerged. He's the guy that you try and keep free from the O-lineman. He's generally going to be the on the unbalanced side of the formation. Generally, your backside DT is going to try and occupy the guard on his side to free up the "Mike" whereas the front-side DT is going to try and maintain two gap responsibility. This means that the front side ILB - usually the "Ted" is going to have to take on a guard before making a play. When playing this way the Ted's first goal is to stuff the guard or FB on a lead play and force the play back towards his "Mike". So, your "Ted" has to be a big powerful guy who can that and doesn't have to be as fast.

I believe Willis moved to the "Ted" not because he lacks any of the qualities of a great "Mike"(we saw that in his first 4 seasons) but because he has the power, form and knowledge of the game to serve in that role and Bowman is a great tackler has great speed and mobility as well. It was kind of - could work great both ways, but probably works best with Willis at the "Ted".

That being said, Wilhoite is definitely the bigger - run stopping type. He reminds me a lot of Takeo Spikes -when Spikes played here as the "Ted".

This is also why Willis' numbers declined slightly when Bowman showed up - because the defense - by design, is set up for Bowman to make the majority of the tackles. But, there's a reason why the players tend to continually vote Willis as a top 10 -15 guy in the league.

In actuality - I would say Bowman played the "Mike" on about 70% of the snaps last year. Offenses will shift and move around a bit before the snap so, sometimes you just have to go with where you are and change positions. Luckily, we've had 2 outstanding players who could play those roles rather interchangeably the past 2 years. I expect to see a lot more pre-snap motions and shifts against us this year to try and exploit Wilhoite as the "Ted" to try and move him to the "Mike". Just my 2 cents.