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All22 analysis: Red Zone issues

Originally posted by jonnydel:
I'll work through this so Thl can stay on all his niners redzone stuff.

Here's a quick look at who performed best at scoring%(TD's only - because that's what we're trying to get, not FG)
The Broncos and Bengals had by far the highest red zone % in the NFL. The Broncos were 1st with 72.73% then the Bengals with 71.43%. Those were the only 2 teams with better than 70%. We were ranked right in the middle of the pack at 15 with 53.03% and 15-5 was rather tightly packed - 5 was KC with 59.68% ,so we were only 6.55% worse than the #5 red zone team, which really amounts to 5 TD's on the year(.3 per game). 5-1 obviously had a bigger spread from KC-DEN, a 13.05% difference.

Here's some of what Denver does:
They like to run a 3 by 1 isolation a lot(probably about 60-65% of the time - rough estimate based off film), but, they'll go balanced the other times. Bear in mind that Denver is primarily an 11 personnel offense(1 back, 1 TE, 3 WR). We can/do still run a lot of the same concepts out of our 2 TE package because we can still run a 3 by 1 unbalance.

Here's a particular play where you can see a major difference between a guy like Peyton Manning and Kap.



The defense comes out with a single safety look - showing a likely blitz based off of alignments, so Manning keeps the TE to block. Since the single safety is on the single receiver side Decker is removed from the play and runs a lazy slant. This brings the only reads to the wide side of the filed with Thomas and Welker in a stacked formation. They stack Welker behind Thomas to give Welker a free release and also keep the CB's from being able to have good leverage on their receiver because Baltimore - like us, like to pattern match their man coverage.



Denver's line does a great job in protection against the blitz, that is one nice pocket. Manning - because of his pre-snap read, looks directly over to the combo side. He's looking for which receiver is in better position. The defense actually does a pretty good job in coverage.



Here's the biggest difference between where Kap is as a QB and Manning. Manning doesn't try and rocket this throw in there and squeaze it into a super tight space, he puts the ball where only his receiver can get it. The red line is where Kap always throws these routes with tight coverage - a straight line out where he rockets the ball and our receivers often have a hard time handling the pass and it has to be put exactly on the money.

Instead, the yellow is where Manning puts the pass. He leads his receiver back so that the defender cannot get to the ball.



here you can see how Manning's placement allows Welker an easy catch and the ability to make a move after the catch.



Welker uses the space created to make his man miss and walks in a for a TD

Great breakdown. It really is fun to watch a qb at his absolute peak go to work. We were lucky enough to witness for the better part of two decades with joe and steve. To no surprise, we use to be a 70% redzone td team during our dynasty years.
  • thl408
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#29 (#4 of POs)

1st & 10
End around option pass
CAR in cover3


Boldin takes the end around handoff and sees this. CAR defenders do not bite and stay with their assignments. Crabs is bracketed.


Boldin wisely throws it away over the head of Crabs. Incomplete pass.


2nd & 10
Looks like a packaged play. Read option with a WR screen to the left. Blue defender will come on a blitz.


Ball is snapped and Kap sees the blitzer off the left edge. This gives the WR screen to Crabs a better numbers matchup 2v2. Kap will throw the WR screen.


The deep safety does a good job coming up and pushing Crabs towards the sidelines. Crabs for +5.


3rd & 5
Not sure what the 49ers are trying to do here with that route combo to Kap's right. Crabs gets jammed nicely by the CB so I'm not sure if he was supposed to run a slant or a go pattern.
CAR will man up on the outside WRs (QP, Crabs) and double team Boldin and VD.


Kap completes his dropback and sees this. He is looking to one of VD or Boldin (can't tell). Both are bracketed as both safeties are in position to defeat VD's post pattern. Pressure will come up the middle and Kap will scramble right.


Kap will eventually throw wide to Crabs along the sidelines. Bring on the FG unit.
Originally posted by thl408:
Here's a recent article that touches on that. When I watch Brady and Peyton operate in the red zone, there are a lot of rub routes being used to run interference on the man coverage defenders. Generally speaking, defenses will play man coverage in the red zone. What separates those QBs from the rest of the league when it comes to red zone passing is their anticipation of when a WR will become open. Also, since a QB can never expect a WR to become completely open, a QB has to be able to locate the ball in a location that only their WR can catch, then have confidence in the WR to make the play.

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2110604-nfl-101-introducing-the-basic-red-zone-route-combinations

Do you think this anticipation just goes along with kaep growth in a pro system. That's really where I'm kinda standing at.

Another thing I was thinking about in relation to Denver and the other big passing teams that may hinder us in regards to the very nuanced passing game they have is the fact our running game is so effective. I know it sounds stupid but I get the feeling that roman and Harbs would rather just bring out the two tons of OL and pound away.
  • thl408
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Originally posted by jonnydel:
I'll work through this so Thl can stay on all his niners redzone stuff.

Here's a quick look at who performed best at scoring%(TD's only - because that's what we're trying to get, not FG)
The Broncos and Bengals had by far the highest red zone % in the NFL. The Broncos were 1st with 72.73% then the Bengals with 71.43%. Those were the only 2 teams with better than 70%. We were ranked right in the middle of the pack at 15 with 53.03% and 15-5 was rather tightly packed - 5 was KC with 59.68% ,so we were only 6.55% worse than the #5 red zone team, which really amounts to 5 TD's on the year(.3 per game). 5-1 obviously had a bigger spread from KC-DEN, a 13.05% difference.

Here's some of what Denver does:
They like to run a 3 by 1 isolation a lot(probably about 60-65% of the time - rough estimate based off film), but, they'll go balanced the other times. Bear in mind that Denver is primarily an 11 personnel offense(1 back, 1 TE, 3 WR). We can/do still run a lot of the same concepts out of our 2 TE package because we can still run a 3 by 1 unbalance.

Here's a particular play where you can see a major difference between a guy like Peyton Manning and Kap.



The defense comes out with a single safety look - showing a likely blitz based off of alignments, so Manning keeps the TE to block. Since the single safety is on the single receiver side Decker is removed from the play and runs a lazy slant. This brings the only reads to the wide side of the filed with Thomas and Welker in a stacked formation. They stack Welker behind Thomas to give Welker a free release and also keep the CB's from being able to have good leverage on their receiver because Baltimore - like us, like to pattern match their man coverage.



Denver's line does a great job in protection against the blitz, that is one nice pocket. Manning - because of his pre-snap read, looks directly over to the combo side. He's looking for which receiver is in better position. The defense actually does a pretty good job in coverage.



Here's the biggest difference between where Kap is as a QB and Manning. Manning doesn't try and rocket this throw in there and squeaze it into a super tight space, he puts the ball where only his receiver can get it. The red line is where Kap always throws these routes with tight coverage - a straight line out where he rockets the ball and our receivers often have a hard time handling the pass and it has to be put exactly on the money.

Instead, the yellow is where Manning puts the pass. He leads his receiver back so that the defender cannot get to the ball.



here you can see how Manning's placement allows Welker an easy catch and the ability to make a move after the catch.



Welker uses the space created to make his man miss and walks in a for a TD

Snipped a couple pics, this is a fantastic example. The stacked WRs give a rub concept. Even in the first picture, you can see the BAL CBs looking at each other to sort out who is covering who. Any breakdown in communication and separation will be created. Then the excellent ball placement by Peyton. He allows his WR to come back for the ball and reduces the angle in which the defender can take in order to swat the ball away. Then just rely on the WR to get some RAC in open space. Done. "easy" TD.
Here's the kind of play that is why Peyton is so great.



NY shows a single safety look. What's great about this play is that it looks like NY is going to run a cover 3 zone. Which, the route combos called would work great against a zone - as you have the vertical clearing routes with the shallow out and in routes to hit the cleared zones.


Instead, NY comes with an overload blitz, leaving a rusher coming free. When Manning see's this he goes to his "hot" read. The short in route to throw "into" the blitz. Throwing "into" the blitz is throwing the ball from where the blitzing defender came because that's an area that there won't be a defender now.



You see from this angle how the T had to take the inside rusher and it leaves Justin Tuck free at Manning. Manning never panics, he see's the defense and reacts just as he should.



here's where it's great, you see he's thrown the ball and the receiver hasn't turned his head or gotten in position yet. Manning again, doesn't rocket the ball in there, he floats this one out so that the receiver has time to adjust to everything.


You see how Manning gets tall and floats the ball over the defender.


The ball floats to the spot where only Demaryius Thomas can get it.



This is where Thomas catches the ball. From the point where Manning threw it, to the catch, he floated it enough to give his receiver time to turn around and take a couple steps. This allowed the ball to be caught. This was a great play by manning for 10 yards.
  • thl408
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Originally posted by Niners816:
Originally posted by thl408:
Here's a recent article that touches on that. When I watch Brady and Peyton operate in the red zone, there are a lot of rub routes being used to run interference on the man coverage defenders. Generally speaking, defenses will play man coverage in the red zone. What separates those QBs from the rest of the league when it comes to red zone passing is their anticipation of when a WR will become open. Also, since a QB can never expect a WR to become completely open, a QB has to be able to locate the ball in a location that only their WR can catch, then have confidence in the WR to make the play.

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2110604-nfl-101-introducing-the-basic-red-zone-route-combinations

Do you think this anticipation just goes along with kaep growth in a pro system. That's really where I'm kinda standing at.

Another thing I was thinking about in relation to Denver and the other big passing teams that may hinder us in regards to the very nuanced passing game they have is the fact our running game is so effective. I know it sounds stupid but I get the feeling that roman and Harbs would rather just bring out the two tons of OL and pound away.

Yes, I do think that anticipation just comes from experience and reps imo. So yes, growth in the system. Kap's INT% suggests he is careful with the ball. Making anticipation throws requires a little bit of "I think I see what's coming, just pull the trigger". He already seems to trust his WRs to make a play, which is why we see so many back shoulder throws to the isolate WR. Now, he needs to trust himself and what he is seeing in order to make anticipation throws to the concept side.
here's another denver red zone play. It gains 5 yard to set up 2nd and goal from the 2.


Here they are in a 3 by 1 set. The unbalanced set makes the defense reveal it's zone coverage. They're gonna run a simple WR screen to Decker since they have the numbers matchup.



You see the T get a good cut block and Decker takes a nice round line to help set up his blockers.


The defenders play the screen fairly well taking away both the inside and outside. Decker lowers his shoulder and gets what he can - something I'd like to see more out of Crabtree, who tends to try and dance around and where he could pick up 5 yards he picks up 2.


You see Decker fighting to get more yards. While not a TD itself, this play, because it sets up 2nd and goal from the 2 ends up opening up the TD on the next play.
Originally posted by thl408:
Yes, I do think that anticipation just comes from experience and reps imo. So yes, growth in the system. Kap's INT% suggests he is careful with the ball. Making anticipation throws requires a little bit of "I think I see what's coming, just pull the trigger". He already seems to trust his WRs to make a play, which is why we see so many back shoulder throws to the isolate WR. Now, he needs to trust himself and what he is seeing in order to make anticipation throws to the concept side.

It really does come back to what our theme on all of these offensive related thread has been - kaep becoming more comfortable with his progressions. With the improved personnel, we might be heading for that perfect storm type situation that leads to a drastic improvement in the passing game.
Here's the TD play after Deckers screen:



Here Denver is going to run a play action fake up the middle - across the formation. Notice how NY has no safety in the middle of the field.


The run fake pull the LB in the middle up and causes the 2 defenders by Welker to peak into the backfield.



You see how both defenders are looking in the backfield and not at Welker - so he just runs right by them. The beautiful thing about Manning here is that he throws the ball to the black circle. He doesn't try and rocket the ball in. It's all about the anticipation and throwing it to the spot of least defense and over the lineman so it can't get batted down.



Manning has already thrown the ball, he threw it when his receiver was still between the defenders. This is a throw he's able to loft because he knows his receiver will be open and he's confident there's not defender there. He doesn't have to "see" his receiver open before pulling the trigger.



Doesn't get much easier than that.
  • thl408
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#30 (#5 of POs)

1st & 10
Inside trap play. Orange is the defender to be trap blocked. Blue is GHardy, one of the best.


Both Staley and Iupati shoot out from their stance and will get to the second level leaving the defender to be trapped unblocked. Boone pulls and will execute the trap block on orange. Dixon will block low on Hardy (blue).


Orange gets trapped and a lane is created for Gore. Dixon's uninspired block leaves Hardy on his feet.


Hardy will chase Gore down from behind. Gore for +5.


2nd & 5
Guard (Iupati) lead right with Dixon following.


The blocks shown are what should happen. Instead, Dixon (orange) has trouble identifying his block and hesitates. Any hesitation by the lead blocker will affect Gore's ability to run through the hole. Dixon fails to identify his block and the defender that Dixon should have blocked ends up stuffing Gore.


Gore for +1.


3rd & 4
QB sweep left. Blue is #97 Addison (rotational DLman).


Kap receives the snap and sweeps left. The blue defender (from above) shoves Staley right into the backfield and ends up knocking Gore off course. This blows up the entire play.


Kap for a loss of -6. Bring in the FG unit.
Originally posted by Niners816:
Originally posted by thl408:
Yes, I do think that anticipation just comes from experience and reps imo. So yes, growth in the system. Kap's INT% suggests he is careful with the ball. Making anticipation throws requires a little bit of "I think I see what's coming, just pull the trigger". He already seems to trust his WRs to make a play, which is why we see so many back shoulder throws to the isolate WR. Now, he needs to trust himself and what he is seeing in order to make anticipation throws to the concept side.

It really does come back to what our theme on all of these offensive related thread has been - kaep becoming more comfortable with his progressions. With the improved personnel, we might be heading for that perfect storm type situation that leads to a drastic improvement in the passing game.
For me, his mental approach to the game has to shift from being a great athlete and a great player to being a great QB. Manning is so great because he doesn't have the physical skillsets and giftings that Kaepernick has. So, he had to know the game inside and out, be perfect with his reads and throwing mechanics and know everything about being a pocket passer; because he didn't have the luxury of being able to take off and run or fire a ball 70 mph down the field. He had to throw with anticipation and good footwork.

Kap has to approach where he's at in his game the same way. It's not about him being a better athlete or training harder. It's not like Walter Payton running his hill to be better. It's knowing everything there is to know about the game, it's understanding everything there is to understand about the offense and a continuing quest for knowledge and sharpening his mind.

I'm not sure he's there yet. I think he's still thinking that if he works harder it's going to happen. It's not about working harder - it's about working smarter. During the offseason, Peyton Manning went down to the University of Alabama to talk with Nick Saban and learn more about football - this is Peyton Manning, seeking out more football knowledge from people. Kaepernick went and trained with Olympic athletes...... While I'm not questioning Kap's work ethic - I'm sure he works as hard or harder than anyone. It's, what is he working on. You'll never see Peyton Manning training with Olympic sprinters - but you will see his bust in Canton....
That's good stuff there, really appreciate the hard work.
Originally posted by Niners816:
Originally posted by thl408:
Yes, I do think that anticipation just comes from experience and reps imo. So yes, growth in the system. Kap's INT% suggests he is careful with the ball. Making anticipation throws requires a little bit of "I think I see what's coming, just pull the trigger". He already seems to trust his WRs to make a play, which is why we see so many back shoulder throws to the isolate WR. Now, he needs to trust himself and what he is seeing in order to make anticipation throws to the concept side.

It really does come back to what our theme on all of these offensive related thread has been - kaep becoming more comfortable with his progressions. With the improved personnel, we might be heading for that perfect storm type situation that leads to a drastic improvement in the passing game.

I don't agree with this being our only theme; jonnydel and thl have done a great job of providing a lot of in-game evidence for us to consider, and Kap's need to progress is a necessity for the continued growth of this offense, but ome of our route packages are ridiculous, for the situation they are used in, or for any situation, ever. 4 verticals on 3rd and goal from outside the 10 is a give up play. No one is getting open on a vertical at that range, and we rarely attempt contested red zone passes on the outside when the game is not immediately on the line, IIRC.

That sorry 3rd and 5 attempt against CAR you detail earlier (where Crab gets stopped cold), is just sad. We run a route pairing deep middle and shallow middle, likely expecting cover 2, but the sideline concept to the left is also designed to defeat cover 2. When they show man-1, we're hosed. Running concepts to defeat the same coverage on both sides of the field is essentially stupidly flipping a coin and hoping for the best, and the influence of the deep/shallow middle concept is limited by field posistion, even IF they were in cover 2. It's just sloppy. That play should not be in the redzone play list, period, and it should only be used in the middle of the field against a team that runs cover 2 the VAST majority of the time (Chicago), since that is the only coverage that gives away an advantage on this play.

grrrrrr. Rant over
Originally posted by jonnydel:
For me, his mental approach to the game has to shift from being a great athlete and a great player to being a great QB. Manning is so great because he doesn't have the physical skillsets and giftings that Kaepernick has. So, he had to know the game inside and out, be perfect with his reads and throwing mechanics and know everything about being a pocket passer; because he didn't have the luxury of being able to take off and run or fire a ball 70 mph down the field. He had to throw with anticipation and good footwork.

Kap has to approach where he's at in his game the same way. It's not about him being a better athlete or training harder. It's not like Walter Payton running his hill to be better. It's knowing everything there is to know about the game, it's understanding everything there is to understand about the offense and a continuing quest for knowledge and sharpening his mind.

I'm not sure he's there yet. I think he's still thinking that if he works harder it's going to happen. It's not about working harder - it's about working smarter. During the offseason, Peyton Manning went down to the University of Alabama to talk with Nick Saban and learn more about football - this is Peyton Manning, seeking out more football knowledge from people. Kaepernick went and trained with Olympic athletes...... While I'm not questioning Kap's work ethic - I'm sure he works as hard or harder than anyone. It's, what is he working on. You'll never see Peyton Manning training with Olympic sprinters - but you will see his bust in Canton....

I hear what you're saying about the experience differences between Peyton and Colin. I too hope that Colin is approaching the mental/student side of the game hard. I tend to think he is because you read quotes from various coaches and commentators saying how hard he works at his job from all angles. For instance:

On 5/30/14, Harbaugh said:

"I thought [Colin] was playing at such a high level it's going to be tough to see incremental growth," Harbaugh said. "But I'm seeing this offseason maybe there's going to be another big inflection point. He has that look. He has that confidence, that knowledge. (He) is in tremendous athletic shape and is throwing the ball with pinpoint accuracy. "I'm expecting an inflection point. I'm expecting him to make great strides." (emphasis added)


...Harbaugh sees a quarterback taking full command of the offense, a re-loaded group with competitive battles at wide receiver and running back. "I think we're going to be darn tough to beat," the 49ers coach said. "We've got some firepower. We've got some ammunition. I'm excited as heck about it."

On 5/27/14, Tim Kawakami observed:
Colin Kaepernick laughed, he barked orders, he threw missiles and when he gestured, his teammates moved wherever he told them to go. Simple summary: The 49ers quarterback was in command out there on Wednesday, in absolute command physically and vocally. This was just one drill, in a May OTA, with no Seattle defensive players anywhere in sight. But Kaepernick's crisp demeanor and easy confidence was something very different and very revealing. At one point, he seemed to take over the entire session, including curtly waving off back-up Blake Gabbert's turn so Kaepernick could throw another Red Zone rocket to Michael Crabtree...


But, as Harbaugh suggested, when a top QB comes into his own, the world opens up. It also helps that the 49ers have provided Kaepernick with a stronger set of receivers just in time for the personal blooming. "Kap said it the other day, he feels that he has a stable of receivers now," Harbaugh said. "Maybe that's the first time that we've said that since we've all been here together. And I concur. It feels that way."


On 6/17/14, Greg Roman stated:
[Q} How much of what adjustments you can do might be affected by maybe because Colin's ready for more?

[A] "That's definitely a factor. It really is his second full year starting, third year, fourth year if you want to make the argument in the system. So, he's seeing things now that he didn't see before. He's right on track."



Some might say that Harbaugh and Roman won't say a negative thing about Colin, but at the same time, Harbaugh expanded a lot on his prior expectations for minimal growth vs. how Colin actually looks ready to make a major jump in performance. Roman' statement that Colin is seeing things heavily implies digestion of the offense, quicker reads, and seeing the field. I guess we'll see.
The three links for my comments are:

http://www.ninersnation.com/2014/6/17/5819510/49ers-minicamp-greg-roman-press-conference-transcript-colin-kaepernick-vance-mcdonald

http://blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami/2014/05/28/colin-kaepernick-in-command-at-ease-comfortable-and-looking-like-the-six-million-dollar-man-times-about-20/?doing_wp_cron=1404414433.5873570442199707031250

http://www.49ers.com/news/article-2/Jim-Harbaugh-Says-Colin-Kaepernick-Throwing-Football-with-%E2%80%98Pinpoint-Accuracy%E2%80%99/36358e0a-08cf-4454-bf51-08afc4b8cbb8