49ers re-sign Dwelley, Harris to one-year deals →
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports


Film From the Field House: Scripting Five Passes for the 49ers

Bret Rumbeck
Jan 10, 2020 at 7:00 AM0



Should a flying DeLorean ever arrive crashing into the driveway of an old San Francisco 49er fan's home, I'm guessing he or she would ask to go back and watch legendary quarterback Joe Montana play a night game at Candlestick Park.

The old guard, the men, and women who'd bring red wine and grilled chicken into the stadium on a foggy night, still yearn for the day the 49ers revive the West Coast Offense and hoist another Lombardi Trophy into the night sky.

Fortunately, new and old 49er fans are lucky to have head coach Kyle Shanahan calling plays from the shadowed sidelines of Levi's Stadium.

Shanahan has been a masterful play-caller for the 49ers, especially after quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo took the reins of the offense.

In his first 16 game season in Shanahan's offense, Garoppolo completed 69.1 percent of his passes, fourth-best in the NFL, for 3,978 yards and 27 touchdowns. He had 7.31 net yards gained per pass attempt, ranking him sixth among eligible quarterbacks.

Garoppolo improved his performance during the second half of the season, throwing for four touchdowns three times and only throwing three interceptions between Weeks 12 and 17.

Restaurant chefs may train to learn the same principles, but the truly great chefs are not afraid to add a modern, personal flair or new fusion to a traditional dish.

Shanahan is no different.

His offense is grounded in old West Coast Offense principles and terminology, but with the right amount of innovation that works in today's NFL. It's proof that old schemes in football never die.

Here are five plays I hope to see on Shanahan's play card this Saturday afternoon.

Week 1: 1st Quarter – 2nd and 9 at the TB 32 (13:08)


The 49ers' first pass play of the 2019 regular season was a 19-yard completion to tight end George Kittle.

"Fake 18" indicates to the running back and the offensive line to move right, while Garoppolo fakes a handoff and continues on a short bootleg left.

The mass movement right forced Tampa Bay's linebackers to follow, combined with wide receiver Deebo Samuel's high corner route, created open space for Kittle in the left flat.

'Y Shallow Cross' is not a new idea.

Its origins are found in the 1994 San Francisco 49ers install playbook, written by then offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan.

The younger Shanahan took 'Drake 54 Z Speedo' and gave it a new name.

Kyle might have called the play, but maybe Mike deserves credit for the concept.

Week 2: 3rd Quarter – 1st and 10 at the SF 25 (15:00)


Shanahan has called 'Dagger' often this season with tremendous success. He called it to open the second half against Cincinnati and rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel gained 39 yards.

My season notes and diagrams indicate 'Dagger' called at least three times throughout the season, with each play going to Samuel. He gained at least 80 yards on the dagger concept in 2019 during his rookie year.

'Dagger' is not a sophisticated combination. The inside receiver runs a 'deep thru' while the outside receiver runs a 'dover' route.

The 'deep thru' is the first read on the play and sets the tone for the play's success. The receiver must choose the angle at the near-high safety, roughly at 14 yards.

If there are two safeties, he takes a softer angle toward the middle. Against one safety, the receiver cuts sharply toward the post.

'Dagger' is an excellent Cover 2 beating play, especially with a solid fake from the running back to freeze the linebackers. Cover 2 is vulnerable to in-breaking routes, as the middle of the field is often left open. With 'Dagger,' both in-breaking routes place one safety in a situation to make the wrong decision.

Of note, Shanahan also borrowed the 'dover' route from his dad but adjusted it slightly to fit his offense. In Mike Shanahan's 1994 playbook, 'dover' was a deep in-breaking route that had the receiver making three moves at the top: a slant inside, up, and then a square break inside at 20 yards.

Week 6: 2nd Quarter – 2nd and 10 at the SF 49 (14:52)


What continues to impress me is Shanahan's ability to take a staple play and modify it to fit whatever situation is needed.

During the Week 6 victory over the Los Angeles Rams, Shanahan had Kittle take one snap at fullback, and called 'P15 Wanda F Scissors.'

Typically, Shanahan calls 'Scissors' from a trips formation. The far outside receiver runs a post that breaks in at 18 yards. The inside receiver runs a 'rub spread,' which is a route that breaks inside at 4-6 yards, and then immediately toward the sideline. The Y receiver runs a corner route that breaks outside at 12 yards.

This time, he modified the play and had Kittle run the out route from the fullback position.

The 1991 49ers also ran a 'scissors' combination, but from a right or left slot formation. The outside receiver would run a post, while the slot receiver ran a post-corner route.

Here was one instance where Shanahan deserves the credit for the innovation, as does the 49ers' offense for flawless execution.

It clearly worked, since the Rams defense completely forgot about Kittle, who gained 45 yards on the play.

Week 9: 4th Quarter – 3rd and 11 at the SF 16 (8:34)


'Double Swirl' is a play that goes back to Shanahan's days with the Falcons, if not further.

The play has mirrored swirl routes on the edges of the formation. Both receivers run roughly 10 yards downfield and make a break toward the corner before flipping around 180 degrees. A slot receiver, in this instance, Kendrick Bourne, ran a 10-yard 'basic' route.

Both backs stay in to block, as the play uses a 24/25 protection. Walsh used 24/25 split-flow protection often in his offense, and Shanahan has not modified it.

Shanahan, with a backbone made of pure adamantium, called the same play with just over 4 minutes left in the game but flipped the formation. Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders gained 16 yards on a 3rd and 11 play that helped seal the win for the 49ers.

Week 13: 3rd Quarter – 3rd and 14 at the SF 7 (:17)



I'm a man of simple football tastes. Please give me a cold Anchor beer, wings, and a slant route to a 49er wide receiver.

In my world view, Shanahan could run slants to Samuel, Sanders, and Kittle against the Vikings and score six points on nearly every drive.

Samuel has been nearly impossible to stop on slant routes, which is why I fully expect Shanahan to call 2/3 Jet Lion more than once on Saturday afternoon.

Once again, Shanahan took a play from his dad's time with the Broncos and made it work in his system. While Mike used to have a fullback or extra tight end run into the flat, Kyle asks all his receivers to run slants, and still uses Jet protection on the play.

200 Jet tells four offensive linemen to slide away from the call to the widest side of the field. That leaves the tackle and back to pick up the opposite side. The running back reads who to block inside-out, starting at the man head up over the center.

Saturday afternoon is a good time for 49er fans young and old to celebrate the team's success while remembering its rich history.

All images courtesy of NFL.com.
All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference unless noted.
  • Bret Rumbeck
  • Written by:
    Bret Rumbeck has been writing about the 49ers since 2017 for 49ers Webzone and 49ers Hub. He is a Turlock, CA native, and has worked for two members of the US House of Representatives and one US Senator. When not breaking down game film, Bret spends his time seeking out various forms of heavy metal. Feel free to follow him or direct inquiries to @brumbeck.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


0 Comments

  • No Comments

Facebook Comments



More San Francisco 49ers News



Overall health, not just QB, is the 49ers' biggest concern

By Chaz Inouye
Feb 20, 2021

If one scoured across the internet and 49ers' social media you would see that quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, is the most polarizing and debated topic discussed. Garoppolo has been the starting quarterback since the end of the 2017 season, but missed most of the 2020 season with an injured ankle and was only able to complete two games in 2018 due to a torn ACL. There are other reasons why people want a change at quarterback, but his health seems to be his biggest concern, which is valid. However, Jimmy Garoppolo and his injuries are a microcosm of the 49ers' major issue: their overall team health. Garoppolo would be the poster child for this concern as he plays the most important position on the field, but his injuries, along with those to other significant



Searching for hidden gold: 5 overlooked QB draft prospects who might pan out for 49ers.

By Don Atkinson
Feb 19, 2021

Winston Churchill once said, "There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction." This is so in football, as much as in everyday life. With a slew of free agents, a tight salary cap, and roster questions at many key positions, the 49ers are indeed about to change. Nowhere is that more true than at the quarterback position. Rumors suggesting the release of 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, a blockbuster trade for Houston's star quarterback Deshaun Watson, and a host of potential free agent signings have swirled since the close of the team's 2020 season in January. Nothing yet has happened, and in fact it may not any time soon. But ready or not, the NFL draft is approaching, and 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch will



No. 10 Should Be Under Center for the 49ers in 2021

By Tim Sprinkles
Mar 4, 2021

Where there is smoke, there is fire, and there has been a ton of smoke coming out of Santa Clara concerning the 49ers, their quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and the future of the two together. Don't get me wrong, the most likely scenario for who starts under center for the 49ers in 2021 is Jimmy Garoppolo, but GM John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan have made it clear that they are open to upgrading the position and moving on from Jimmy G. If the 49ers do move on from Garoppolo, they shouldn't look to mortgage the future by trading a haul of picks to move up into the top 10 or even top 5 for a quarterback. They should pick No. 10 from Alabama, quarterback Mac Jones, if he falls to the twelfth pick in the 2021 NFL draft. Mac Jones is rapidly moving up the boards



Options for the 49ers if LT Trent Williams Leaves in Free Agency

By Brian Renick
6 mins ago

The worst-case scenario for the 49ers this offseason would be seeing All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams leave in free agency. Last offseason, the team sent a 3rd round pick to the Washington Football Team to acquire Williams, and then restructured his deal to give him a small pay bump and included language in the contract that stated they would not use the Franchise Tag on him in 2021. Looking at the pending free agents at the tackle position, it's easy to see that Trent Williams is far-and-away the best player available. Williams has stated that he would like to return to the 49ers, which is good news, but he also wants to test the market to determine his value, which could be bad news. There are enough teams flush with cap space, even with a cap-tightened season, and a need


Featured

More by Bret Rumbeck

More Articles

Share 49erswebzone